Adams: Football alone gives SEC cause for celebration

The SEC will celebrate an anniversary of sorts this week. This is its 25th spring meeting in Destin, Fla.

But the conference doesn't need an anniversary to celebrate. Its success in football is cause for celebration 365 days a year.

Long before the spring meetings became permanently attached to Destin, the SEC already could argue it had the best football conference in the country. Now, there's no debate. The league has the championships and the television contracts to prove it.

In fact, the SEC's television contracts with CBS and ESPN are so long and lucrative, it's a wonder the league can still get a discount rate at the Sandestin Hilton resort hotel.

The 2006-2007 school year was as good as it gets as far as winning major titles. The SEC won the national championship in football, men's basketball and women's basketball.

But the combination of fame and fortune in football makes this one of the best school years ever for the SEC.

The success is magnified because of the persistent speculation during the 2008 regular season that the Big 12 was playing better football. The bowls disproved that. Florida won the national championship; the SEC won six of eight bowl games; and Florida beat Oklahoma, and Ole Miss defeated Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl in the only Big 12-SEC bowl match-ups.

There's more evidence of the SEC's banner school year in football:

n The SEC led all NCAA FBS conferences with a .767 winning percentage.

n The SEC led the nation in attendance.

n Four SEC teams finished in the top 15.

n Alabama coach Nick Saban was the consensus national coach of the year.

n Florida quarterback Tim Tebow won the Maxwell Player of the Year award.

n Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith won the Outland Trophy, which is awarded to the nation's top lineman,

n Thirteen SEC players made first-team All-America, and seven of them were consensus picks.

n Ten conference schools made the top 25 in recruiting; Alabama and LSU were No. 1, according to different recruiting services.

n Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford was the first player taken in the NFL draft.

The SEC has excelled in more sports than football this school year. It has won three other national titles, including one by Tennessee's women in indoor track. And there might be more championships to come. Florida has the nation's top-ranked softball team. Alabama and Georgia have qualified for the Women's College World Series. LSU is a national championship contender in baseball.

So the conference could finish the school year with five or six national titles. In a league as strong as this one, that qualifies as an average year.

But what happened in football makes it a special year.

Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 14

teampenny#658108 writes:

Not much mention of Tennessee. Come on John throw us a bone! Go Vols

PepperGrinder (Inactive) writes:

Should have mentioned something of how Eric Berry was robbed of the Thorpe Award. I still cant believe they gave it to Junkins. I guess it was because he was a senior and they felt like giving him some kind of reward for being on a team that lost 2 straight national championships. Out of all the finalists not one was close to Eric Berry's numbers.

formerflgranny writes:

Clarence, Is that you?

rockytopatl writes:

in response to teampenny#658108:

Not much mention of Tennessee. Come on John throw us a bone! Go Vols

Dude: The column is about the SEC. The Vols, as much as we love 'em, bombed as far as SEC champs this year. Get real. The KNS isn't a homer -- it's a NEWSPAPER.

allvol32 writes:

Nice column Mr. Adams. I've been a UT and SEC fan for over 40 years and the SEC is by far the best football conference. I always root for any SEC team (even Florida!) when they're playing any non-SEC opponent.

There are huge rivalries within the SEC and fans sometimes go over the line in attacking other schools but it's those very rivalries that drive schools to higher levels of excellence and make the SEC the best football conference in the land.

CoverOrange writes:

So the SEC is great at playing sports. In the great scheme of things that is important how....? In ten years when the dollar has gone the way of the peso and the lira and we sell California to the Chinese, this won't matter too much.

old_number1 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

So the SEC is great at playing sports. In the great scheme of things that is important how....? In ten years when the dollar has gone the way of the peso and the lira and we sell California to the Chinese, this won't matter too much.

Dang, turbo, this isn't the time or the place for a huge dose of reality!! LOL

eefor10c writes:

Give me cause to celebrate adams. Go home to LSU!

allvol32 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

So the SEC is great at playing sports. In the great scheme of things that is important how....? In ten years when the dollar has gone the way of the peso and the lira and we sell California to the Chinese, this won't matter too much.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust - in 10 million year it matters not a whit either - what an insipid comment Turbo...this is a sports fan site.

dvhill100 writes:

Good article. It really is the SEC's world, and everyone else is playing catchup.

TommyJack writes:

Decent piece, Adams.

Do not feed the bottom feeders.

tennecwingrider writes:

in response to gatorz5:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

And if your parents had gone to a movie that night, neither would you.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to allvol32:

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust - in 10 million year it matters not a whit either - what an insipid comment Turbo...this is a sports fan site.

Sorry, long week and I let it show through.

But, I have to agree somewhat with BigOrange---- (who is not a Big Orange fan, obviously) that Adams wrote this to as another stab at UT.

allvol32 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Sorry, long week and I let it show through.

But, I have to agree somewhat with BigOrange---- (who is not a Big Orange fan, obviously) that Adams wrote this to as another stab at UT.

No problem Turbo - and you're right about what seems to be an anti-UT bent in a lot Mr. Adams columns.

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