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From 2008 To Now, There Have Been Some Real Fortune Changes In The SEC

With apologies to Ferris Bueller, life moves pretty fast.  Especially in the SEC.  One year you might be the undefeated BCS champion with a Heisman-winner behind center.  The next, things might go so badly that fans starting calling for changes on the coaching staff.  One year you might be a 2-10 joke that can do no better than hire an ACC unknown as your new head coach.  The next, you might be going bowling with a Coach of the Year candidate at the helm.

In the uber-balanced SEC, fortunes can change quickly.  The idea of a team winning consistently is almost laughable.  And for all the talk of how dominant the SEC West is at the moment — and it is — it wasn’t that long ago that the conference’s might rested in the East.

Below you can see just how the power has shifted.  For kicks, we wanted to see which programs have risen or fallen the most over the past four seasons.  So we compared each program’s combined records from 2008 and 2009 to their combined records from 2010 and 2011.  You can see the ’08-’09 combined standings first, followed by the ’10-’11 combined standings and, finally, the changes from one two-year period to the other.  The results will be painful for some to look at, a joy for others.  But no one should get too cocky or too depressed.  Obviously, in the SEC, life moves pretty fast and changes do come quickly.


2008-2009 Combined

Florida   26-2 15-1
Georgia   18-8 10-6
S. Carolina   14-12 7-9
Kentucky   14-12 5-11
Tennessee   12-13 7-9
Vanderbilt   9-16 4-12
Alabama   26-2 16-0
Ole Miss   18-8 9-7
LSU   17-9 8-8
Arkansas   13-12 5-11
Auburn   13-12 5-11
Miss. State   9-15 5-11


2010-2011 Combined

S. Carolina   19-7 11-5
Georgia   16-9 10-6
Florida   14-11 7-9
Kentucky   11-14 4-12
Tennessee   11-14 4-12
Vanderbilt   8-16 3-13
LSU   23-2 14-2
Alabama   21-4 12-4
Auburn   21-5 12-4
Arkansas   20-5 12-4
Miss. State   15-10 6-10
Ole Miss   6-18 1-15


Changes From ’08-’09 to ’10-’11

Auburn   Up 7.5 games Up 7 games
LSU   Up 7.5 games Up 6 games
Arkansas   Up 7 games Up 7 games
Miss. State   Up 5.5 games Up 1 game
S. Carolina   Up 5 games Up 4 games
Vanderbilt   Down .5 games Down 1 game
Tennessee   Down 1 game Down 3 games
Georgia   Down 1.5 games No change
Kentucky   Down 2.5 games Down 1 game
Alabama   Down 3.5 games Down 4 games
Florida   Down 10.5 games Down 8 games
Ole Miss   Down 11 games Down 8 games


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Introducing “The SEC In The NFL”

Which SEC Schools Produce The Most NFL Talent?

We’re unveiling a new weekly column for the Overtime section this fall.  We’re calling it “The SEC In The NFL” and as you might have guessed, we’ll focus our pro football efforts on your favorite college football conference.

Each week during the regular season, we’ll highlight the stars and studs, notable performances and quotable NFL athletes, all with SEC roots, of course.

In honor of the NFL season kicking off tonight, we thought we’d take a look at the raw material for our weekly grist mill.  That is, exactly how many former SEC players are currently drawing a NFL paycheck and what uniform did they wear when they played on Saturdays?  Our source is the NFL Players By College – a handy guide on ESPN’s website that you can check out for yourself here.

Of course, NFL rosters are fluid.  These numbers were accurate as of Wednesday.

Here’s how the list shakes out – sorted by total number of players per alma mater.

Alma Mater Total Number of Players
LSU 39
Georgia 36
Tennessee 36
Florida 31
Auburn 28
Alabama 23
South Carolina 22
Ole Miss 21
Arkansas 15
Mississippi State 15
Kentucky 11
Vanderbilt 6


A few impressions. Neither Georgia nor Tennessee can compete with LSU when it comes to on-field results over the past decade (two national championships for the Tigers) but both schools are almost equal as a pro football factory.  With the Bulldogs and the Volunteers the outliers, four of the top six schools have won BCS titles since 2006.  Still, there’s quite a gap even within the top half with LSU having more than 1 ½ times the number of NFL players from Alabama.

I would have guessed Arkansas as right behind the top six teams but it turns both South Carolina and Ole Miss have more pro players than the Razorbacks.  To almost no one’s surprise, Kentucky and Vanderbilt are at the bottom of the list.

One statistical oddity when it comes to the Commodores – their NFL playing alums are easiest to follow since four of the six guys are on the Chicago Bears roster.  Why that is I’m not exactly sure but Mike  Martz, the Bears offensive coordinator and the former head coach of the St. Louis Rams, is known to place a premium on intelligence (the Rams drafted Harvard quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick during Martz’ tenure.  Fitzpatrick is believed to have registered one of the highest Wonderlic Test scores in NFL history), so perhaps that’s a factor.

The Vandy trivia made me curious to dig deeper into the distribution of SEC talent.  Going through the rosters of every team led me to produce this chart.  The total number reflects players that are active, injured, suspended or on the practice squad.  In short, outside of some unsigned free agents, this is practically every single player who could make an impact in the NFL this season. While the practice squad number is reflected in the “SEC Players” total, I also captured their totals in a separate column to isolate those players less likely to play a role.

AFC SEC Players Practice Squad NFC SEC Players Practice Squad
EAST     EAST    
Buffalo 12 0 Dallas 8 1
Miami 9 1 New York 8 1
New England 15 1 Philadelphia 7 0
New York 3 0 Washington 9 2
East Totals 39 2 East Totals 32 4
Baltimore 8 1 Chicago 9 1
Cincinnati 15 1 Detroit 8 2
Cleveland 9 1 Green Bay 14 2
Pittsburgh 8 0 Minnesota 8 1
North Totals 41 3 North Totals 39 6
Houston 9 1 Atlanta 13 0
Indianapolis 7 0 Carolina 11 1
Jacksonville 3 1 New Orleans 10 1
Tennessee 10 0 Tampa Bay 7 0
South Totals 29 2 South Totals 41 2
WEST     WEST    
Denver 3 0 Arizona 8 2
Kansas City 17 1 San Francisco 8 0
Oakland 12 0 Seattle 9 1
San Diego 6 1 St. Louis 6 0
West Totals 48 2 West Totals 31 3
Conference Totals 157 9 Conference Totals 143 15


A few things jump out here.  The first one is the AFC South.  With two franchises in SEC states – Tennessee and Jacksonville – this division has the least number of players with a SEC background. What the hell is going on with the Jaguars?  You’d think a franchise in a city that hosts the annual Florida-Georgia game would have its pulse on the SEC, but the Jags barely recognize its existence.  Jacksonville has tripled up on talent from UCLA, sports a trio from Missouri and even a trifecta from Louisiana Tech but only three guys from the entire SEC. Go figure.

Having only three players with SEC roots (and one of those is on the practice squad) ties Jacksonville with the New York Jets and the Denver Broncos for the lowest total in the league.

Pro football scouts and coaches out west have very different opinions of SEC talent.  The AFC West has the most SEC players with 48 while the NFC West, with 31, is the second lowest behind the aforementioned AFC South.

The team with the most SEC players is Kansas City (17) while New England (15) is tied for second with Cincinnati.  Is that just a coincidence?  Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli was the Patriots VP of Player Personnel during their run of Super Bowl victories. Also interesting to note that reigning Super Bowl champion Green Bay is next in line at 14 players.

Of the six NFL teams that reside in SEC States, the Falcons have the most local flavor (13 SEC players).

Finally, I count exactly 300 players with SEC connections.  If you assume an average of 65 players per NFL roster (53-man roster, plus practice squad plus injured reserve), that means there are 2,080 total players under contract.  That translates into just over 14% of all the players in the league who played on Saturdays in the SEC, an impressive figure no matter how you slice it.

Are you ready for some football?

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Tyler’s Take: 80 FBS Football Teams In 2020

Four New SEC teams Would Have Killed 40

Five things stand out after all the dust has settled:

1)      Mike Slive “joked” he could add about 30 teams in 30 seconds (my words and not his), and only weeks later he would actually be put to the test to find just one in about 48 hours.

2)      Because two invitations would have been accepted by nearly any school asked, the NCAA must have been on the verge of tears because it would have set the wheels in motion to change NCAA football forever. It didn’t happen because Slive didn’t want an ocean of blood on his hands, so now the NCAA and Mark Emmert owes the SEC in a HUGE way. 

3)      The SEC is eyeing 14 teams and not 16. I assume 14 is the magic number because the SEC can sign new contracts without blowing up the entire system if it went to 16. Adding four instead of two would lead to a massive realignment and potential revenue sharing, thus diluting the SEC’s annual take.

4)      I’m calling Slive’s bluff. He knows full-scale realignment is eventually coming, but he didn’t want to set off the fire alarm just yet.

5)       NCAA Armageddon was stopped, but 80 FBS teams in 2020 is reality.

Let’s review SEC options I thought were on the table one last time…

Option 1 – Pick with the left hand

Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Missouri. The SEC brand expands into the Midwest and Texas. Missouri opens the St. Louis market, and relieves Arkansas of the adopted son tag some 20+ years later. This is also a win-win since Arkansas is already a natural rival. Collateral Damage: The Big-12 disintegrates within seconds.

Option 2 – Pick with the right hand

Florida State, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Georgia Tech. Perfect from a geographical and rivalry standpoint for existing SEC teams, exclusive of moving into Virginia the conference is adding teams in states it already owns. In a world all about eyeballs watching television this collection makes the least amount of sense. Collateral Damage: The ACC disintegrates in milliseconds and the self-proclaimed Ivy League schools of the south no longer have a home.

Option 3 – Pick with both hands

Neatly place Texas A&M and Missouri in the West and Florida State and Virginia Tech in the East. Ultimately, the SEC gets nearly everything it wants without totally destroying the conferences it borrowed its new teams from. (I write the word borrow on purpose.)

The SEC in 2014



Florida Alabama
Florida State Auburn
South Carolina Mississippi
Virginia Tech Mississippi State
Georgia Arkansas
Kentucky Missouri
Vanderbilt Texas A&M
Tennessee LSU


The NCAA in 2020 – What does it look like?

With TCU now in the same conference as Syracuse – a mere 31 driving turns and 1,591 miles away – the shape of college football is becoming so oblong it will no longer be passable in a few years. Simply put, the NCAA has yet another problem weighing heavily on its slow-moving hands. The problem is not having one football team join another conference half way across the country to catch the BCS money train, it’s all the other non-revenue sports teams that must travel the same path to play their games without a money train.

Outside of March Madness college football owns the NCAA, so with that in mind here’s the plan.

Step 1:  Only 80 NCAA teams will play FBS football in 2020. Teams will be divided geographically into four conferences, each with two divisions of ten teams. I reached the magic number of 80 with the 2010 college football home attendance figures. If a team didn’t average more than 30,000 fans for home games it doesn’t deserve to play with the big boys, end of story. *I was generous enough to keep two current BCS schools in even though they didn’t hit 30,000: Duke (28,750) and Washington State (24,532). Actually, I take that back. Maybe we swap East Carolina for Duke since nobody likes the Blue Devils.

Four Independents and 10 or so non-BCS teams join the 80, and “borderline” teams that can be swapped out for others.

Air Force 40,093 Boise State 33,629 BYU 61,383
Fresno State 34,120 Hawaii 37,311 San Diego State 34,133
UCF 39,314 *UTEP 29,350 *Houston 31,100
East Carolina 49,665 *So. Miss. 29,400 (I) BYU 61,000
(I) Army 31,667 (I)Navy 32,653 (I)Notre Dame 80,795


Step 2: Schools that don’t make the cut will be “demoted” to the FCS. To soften the blow there will be guaranteed games against the new FBS 80 and revenue sharing, too. All new and current FCS schools realign themselves the best possible way… by sitting down at a table and looking at a map.

Step 3: All NCAA teams in every sport besides football remain in their current conference unless it makes sense for a particular team to return closer to home. (See TCU returning back to Texas.)

That’s it. Is it a perfect fit in some cases? No. Will it be strange to have one conference for football and one for all other sports?  The BCS started us down this path of football separation in its first season.


1)      North Carolina                  11) UCONN

2)      N.C. State                            12) Boston College

3)      Wake Forest                      13) Navy

4)      East Carolina                      14) Maryland

5)      Virginia                                                15) Syracuse

6)      Virginia Tech                     16) Army

7)      Vanderbilt                          17) Rutgers

8)      Tennessee                          18) Penn. State

9)       West Virginia                   19) Pittsburg

10)   Louisville                            20) Cincinnati


1)      Miami                                   11) Alabama

2)      Florida                                  12) Auburn

3)      Florida State                      13) Ole Miss

4)      Central Florida                  14) Miss. State

5)      South Florida                     15) Southern Miss.

6)      Georgia                                                16) LSU

7)      Georgia Tech                     17) Arkansas

8)      Clemson                              18) Missouri

9)      South Carolina                  19) Oklahoma

10)   Kentucky                             20) Oklahoma State


1)      Notre Dame                       11) Iowa

2)      Indiana                                 12) Iowa State

3)      Purdue                                 13) Kansas

4)      Illinois                                  14) Kansas State

5)      Northwestern                   15) Nebraska

6)      Ohio State                          16) Texas

7)      Michigan                             17) Texas A&M

8)      Michigan State                  18) Baylor

9)      Minnesota                          19) TCU

10)   Wisconsin                           20) Houston


1)      Colorado                             11) Cal

2)      Air Force                              12) Fresno State

3)      BYU                                        13) San Diego State

4)      Utah                                      14) Oregon

5)      Arizona                                                15) Oregon State

6)      Arizona State                     16) Washington

7)      Boise State                         17) Washington State

8)      USC                                        18) Hawaii

9)      UCLA                                     19) Texas Tech

10)   Stanford                              20) UTEP


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