BTI's Rants and Ramblings: The Have's and Have Not's of SEC Football

Bryan the Internover 8 years

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Aritcle written by:Bryan the InternBryan the Intern
The excitement surrounding Mark Stoops and the football program is really amazing, considering where the program dipped at the end of the Joker Phillips era.  Recruiting has been a boom, which is always a good place to start.  It seems the right assistant hires were made, and there is a new passion from the fanbase surrounding the program.  But moreso in football than in basketball, there is a rigid hierarchy in the SEC standings that tends to follow a similar trend year after year after year.  And Kentucky has unfortunately been on the wrong side of that hierarchy for a long time.  For example, here is where each team in the SEC has finished in their division over the last 10 SEASONS.  Missouri and Texas A&M were left out of this breakdown: EAST DIVISION Georgia: 1, 1, 3, 2, 2, 1, 3, 1, 2, 1 Florida: 2, 3, 2, 1, 1, 3, 1, 3, 3, 3 Tennessee: 6, 6, 4, 3, 5, 2, 2, 5, 1, 2 South Carolina: 3, 2, 1, 5, 4, 5, 5, 2, 4, 4 Kentucky: 7, 5, 5, 4, 6, 4, 4, 6, 5, 5 Vanderbilt: 4, 4, 6, 6, 3, 6, 6, 4, 6, 6 WEST DIVISION LSU: 2, 1, 3, 2, 3, 1, 3, 1, 2, 1 Alabama: 1, 2, 4, 1, 1, 5, 4, 3, 3, 5 Auburn: 7, 4, 1, 5, 5, 2, 2, 2, 1, 3 Arkansas: 6, 3, 2, 4, 4, 3, 1, 4, 4, 4 Ole Miss: 5, 6, 6, 3, 2, 6, 5, 6, 5, 2 Mississippi State: 4, 5, 5, 6, 6, 4, 6, 5, 6, 6 Let's take the East Division first.  Consider that in 5 of the 10 seasons, Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee have finished 1-2-3 in some order.  Half of the seasons, the top half of the division have been occupied by the same 3 teams.  Florida and Georgia have finished in the Top 3 in the conference in ALL 10 SEASONS.  In fact, Florida and Georgia have both been in the top 3 of the SEC East division EVERY YEAR since 1997.  And when you take Vanderbilt and Kentucky, in their 20 seasons combined, they have finished 3rd or better in the conference ONCE.  In those 20 seasons, that is 5 combined head coaches amongst the schools.  Multiple men have tried and failed to bring those 2 schools out of the East Division cellar.  Now, in the last 3 years, South Carolina has replaced Tennessee as the 3rd power in the division, but that hasn't meant much upward mobility from UK and VU. In the West, LSU has roamed the top of the league for the entire 10 year stretch, finishing in the Top 3 every year.  Alabama has certainly stabilized over the last 5 years with no end in sight.  Auburn and Arkansas have generally lingered in the middle of the division (besides Auburn's national champion year) and then the Mississippi schools sit at the bottom of the division nearly every year.  What's amazing is people think Dan Mullen has done a fantastic job at Mississippi State but they have never finished above 4th in that division. What about recruiting?  Where has each school finished in the recruiting rankings within the conference over the last 6 years? Alabama: 1, 1, 3, 2, 1, 1 LSU: 5, 3, 4, 4, 2, 3 Florida: 3, 2, 9, 1, 10, 4 Georgia: 4, 6, 2, 7, 3, 2 Auburn: 7, 4, 1, 3, 6, 5 South Carolina: 10, 5, 6, 8, 5, 8 Tennessee: 12, 10, 5, 6, 4, 9 Ole Miss: 6, 14, 8, 7, 10, 7 Mississippi St: 9, 7, 11, 5, 10, 8 Arkansas: 11, 8, 7, 9, 9, 6 Kentucky: 14, 11, 10, 11, 11, 11 Vanderbilt: 8, 13, 12, 12, 12, 12 Remember the HAVE's in the list above of conference finishes?  Florida, Georgia, Alabama, LSU, and Auburn.  Look at the 5 teams with the best recruiting success over the last 6 years.  I think you'll find some similarities.  Now, you might say that it's obvious that recruiting success relates to on-field success.  Which is true.  Not breaking any barriers with that theory.  But the point is, there seems to be little movement on the teams who do the best in recruiting, which leads to the wins.  A group of 5 teams essentially hog all the wins in the league, all the recruiting success in return, and the cycle repeats. So what does that mean for Kentucky?  Well, it means it will require your PATIENCE, PATIENCE, PATIENCE.  I think taking a look at South Carolina is a perfect example.  Steve Spurrier is one of the best coaches in the game and it took him SIX SEASONS to see real success there.  Mark Stoops has quite the uphill battle ahead of him.  But so do the fans.  Because you are going to have to remain patient with this program if you want to see real success.  Are you will to take 2 or 3 straight 5 and 6 win seasons with the hopes of 7, 8, and 9 win seasons after that?  I certainly hope so, because that is almost certainly going to be the case. Oh, by the way, Mark Stoops's 2014 class currently ranks 9th in the SEC.  Or, the best spot in the league rankings in 7 years.  Not a bad start. Follow me on twitter @BryantheIntern

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2021-09-16