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 firstname.lastname@example.org.