When it comes to bragging rights — actual measurable success — in the SEC, we’ve recently provided you a snapshot of the league’s best football and best basketball programs over the past eight seasons.
Now we combine those results and show you which league programs have done the absolute best (and worst) in the SEC’s money sports.
Below is the formula we used, with point values assigned for different accomplishments. It’s a simple formula, designed to give a simple read on which schools are giving their fans more to cheer about:
||NCAA Tournament Bid
|BCS Bowl Bid
||Final Four Appearance
|Heisman Trophy Winner
||SEC Tournament Title
|SEC Division Title
||SEC Division Title
|Top 10 Recruiting Class
||Top 10 Recruiting Class
* Over the past decade, SEC teams have won about 2.5x as many basketball games as football games, so we multiplied the number of football wins by 2.5… to make football and basketball somewhat even.
* We used Rivals.com’s recruiting rankings.
* Certainly we could have given more points NCAA Tourney and bowl bids, but whatever we assigned would be second-guessed. Therefore, wins are a point, other items receive bonus points, and only SEC and national titles earn big bonuses.
So which programs have had the most success over the past eight seasons? Here’s the list:
* It shouldn’t surprise anyone to see Florida — winners of two national title in football and two national titles in basketball — sitting on such a high perch after the past eight seasons. The Gators were the league’s best basketball program over that period and finished second only to LSU on the gridiron.
* The strength of LSU’s football program carried the Tigers all the way to the #2 slot in our standings. Basketball has been feast or famine for the Bayou Bengals, most recently — famine. But football has been outstanding.
* Alabama has had coaching changes in both major sports over the past eight seasons, but the Crimson Tide still comes in a very healthy #3 overall. Nick Saban has been great and Anthony Grant shows promise, but the bad ol’ days under Mike Shula and Mark Gottfried weren’t always bottom of the barrel bad to begin with.
* Perhaps Tennesseans will look at athletic director Mike Hamilton a little differently upon realizing that the Vols have actually been the fourth best program in the SEC over the last eight years. Nah. More likely they’ll realize that UT’s fortunes have fallen in football over that span and that the hoops program is now set to take its own tumble.
* Kentucky football mustered a 10th place finish in our standings. Yet a down run in basketball — by UK standards — was still good enough to pull the Wildcats to #5 overall. It tells you something about UK’s standards that the league’s second-best roundball performance over an eight-year span was considered disappointing.
* Auburn, Georgia and Arkansas spend an awful lot of money on their athletic programs to be see results like those above. The Tigers and Bulldogs were both hamstrung by poor basketball performances. The Razorbacks — on the whole — were simply average in both major sports. It will be interesting to keep an eye on these schools moving forward as all three have now upgraded their areas of previous weakness.
* South Carolina has good facilities, good money and a good fanbase. Why their athletic programs have never thrived — including in these last eight years — is a question many Gamecock fans must mutter in their sleep.
* On the strength of its hoops program, Mississippi State outdistanced Ole Miss for 10th place in our standings. When your athletic budgets — including private funds — rank at or near the bottom of the SEC, these are the kinds of results you can expect.
* Despite a solid basketball number, Vanderbilt brings up the rear in these results. Not only do the Commodores spend less than most of their SEC brethren, but they also have to deal with the school’s stringent entrance requirements.
* Who we expect to rise over the next eight years: Arkansas. Bobby Petrino has built a winner in Fayetteville and it’s likely that Mike Anderson will do the same. While we don’t expect a Nolan Richardson-like run — multiple Final Fours — we do believe the Hogs will see enough of a bounce in basketball to climb into the league’s top five or six teams over the coming years.
* Who we expect to decline over the next eight years: Tennessee. With the Vols facing likely NCAA sanctions and rebuilding projects in both major sports, it’s hard not to go with the program that finished fourth overall over the last eight years. But if we had to pick another, less obvious school we’d choose Florida. Oh, the Gators should still take advantage of big money, big facilities and a big recruiting base, but they have nowhere to go but down. And Will Muschamp could be the next Urban Meyer… or Ron Zook. Right now, no one knows.