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How hard is it to win an SEC Championship?

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If I asked you to guess where Tennessee ranked in SEC Championships in the five biggest sports (football, men’s & women’s basketball, baseball, softball) in the last ten years, what would you say?

We know football is still working on the comeback. We know the Lady Vols aren’t at the peak of their powers. It’s easy for the gray skies of football to cloud the perception of the whole over the last ten years, especially when there’s not a dominant alternative in women’s basketball or elsewhere.

How do the Vols rank in regular season SEC titles in the big five sports over the last ten years?

Tied for fourth.

SEC Regular Season Championships since 2012 Expansion

Since 2012FootballMen’s BballWomen’s BballBaseballSoftballTotal
Florida0203611
Alabama7100210
South Carolina006006
Kentucky040004
LSU110204
Tennessee012104
Arkansas000123
Auburn120003
Mississippi State002103
Texas A&M011002
Vanderbilt000202
Georgia100001
Missouri000000
Ole Miss000000

(data via wikipedia)

The Gators lead the way via spring dominance. Alabama football continues to be the most dominant program in the conference among these five sports, followed closely by Florida softball and South Carolina women’s basketball. Those six for the Gamecocks pull them ahead of 11 other schools in the league by themselves.

But Tennessee’s four regular season SEC titles since expansion are next, tied with Kentucky and LSU. The Lady Vols won the league in 2013 and 2015. Men’s basketball won in 2018. And the baseball team just secured the regular season crown.

Texas A&M has won a pair of conference titles in the big five sports since joining the league. Missouri has won zero. Ole Miss has nothing in the last ten years. And Georgia’s 2017 SEC title is their only mark on the board (though I’m sure they’ll take the trade with Alabama from this past fall).

Only Florida, Alabama, LSU, and Tennessee have won regular season titles in at least three sports in the last ten years. Winning is hard!

It’s an amazing thing to be able to have the, “This is as healthy as our athletic department has been since _________,” conversation right now. For those of us who are old enough to remember, the answer to that question came with a level of success in both football and women’s basketball that may not be repeatable year after year in the current climate. We’ll see.

Either way, what’s happening right now is indeed remarkable, and becomes more so as you expand outward:

It’s also a consistent reflection of who Tennessee has been going backwards:

SEC Regular Season Championships since 1992 Expansion

Since 1992FootballMen’s BballWomen’s BballBaseballSoftballTotal
Florida7608930
LSU5439526
Tennessee23153124
Alabama10202620
Kentucky01311015
Georgia3033211
South Carolina0163111
Auburn331007
Arkansas020327
Vanderbilt010405
Mississippi State012104
Ole Miss001102
Texas A&M011002
Missouri000000

(SEC softball began play in 1997)

Take it all the way back to when women’s basketball began in this league in 1980:

SEC Regular Season Championships since 1980

Since 1980FootballMen’s BballWomen’s BballBaseballSoftballTotal
Florida87011935
LSU77313535
Tennessee54183131
Alabama12303624
Kentucky02121024
Georgia6173219
Auburn7350015
South Carolina0163111
Mississippi State022408
Arkansas020327
Vanderbilt010506
Ole Miss001102
Texas A&M011002
Missouri000000

The only schools to win a championship in all five sports: LSU, Tennessee, and Georgia.

Winning is hard!

A couple of other fun notes from this chart:

  • The least balanced sport in the conference is football. Since 1980, you’ve got haves and have-nots: the six traditional powers all won at least five regular season titles, and no one else has won any. The last time someone other than those six schools won the SEC: Ole Miss in 1963.
  • As dominant as Alabama seems in football now, they’ve got little on Kentucky basketball and the Lady Vols.
  • In men’s basketball, everyone other than Ole Miss and Missouri has won the league at least once since 1980. There’s a similar truth in baseball, with everyone other than Auburn and the new guys from A&M and Missouri taking home at least one prize.

Tennessee has always had a top-rate athletic department in this league, competing for and winning championships in almost every sport. That’s the goal, right?

And right now, even without the full firepower of football or a women’s basketball program that defined the sport? Things have still been pretty good overall, and are trending healthier every day.

Winning is hard. And overall, Tennessee might be better at it than we give them credit for.

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Harley
Harley
1 month ago

Wow! Love the stats. It really puts Championships in perspective and highlights one sport schools and more well-rounded schools. Thanks for sharing.