Mike Strange: It's an SEC world

Mike Strange

First, Nick Saban hoisting a crystal football. Then, John Calipari basking in that one shining moment amid a waterfall of confetti.

At least Tennessee fans were spared the sight of Geno on a ladder with scissors Tuesday night.

That would have just about been more rivalry humble pie than Vol fans could stomach in one year.

But there's one man who, while he might feel Tennessee's pain in an avuncular way, is grinning ear to ear.

You might have noticed Monday night that Mike Slive had a primo courtside seat for Kentucky's national championship win over Kansas.

He deserved it. As commissioner of the biggest, baddest conference in the land he can sit anywhere he wants.

The SEC is the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in collegiate sports. The league currently holds the national title in the three marquee men's sports: Kentucky in hoops, Alabama in football and South Carolina in baseball.

Kentucky's first NCAA hoops title since 1998 isn't a blip. It confirms a trend. Of the past 20 championships held in football, men's basketball and baseball, the SEC has won 12.

The 2012 College World Series has yet to be contested. Since Florida is ranked No. 1, 13-of-21 isn't far-fetched.

Four different schools have combined to win six consecutive BCS football titles. Florida won back-to-back basketball titles in 2006-07. South Carolina has won the past two baseball titles — by beating

runner-up Florida last year — to succeed 2009 champ LSU.

As for women's hoops, which has certainly achieved marquee status, the SEC is still a one-horse league.

Tennessee is that horse, winning its seventh and eighth titles in 2007-08. No other SEC school has cut down nets since women joined the NCAA fold in 1982.

Does any other league approach the SEC's record in the big three men's arenas? In a word, no.

The Big Ten hasn't won it all in football since Ohio State in 2002, in basketball since Michigan State in 2000 or in baseball since the Buckeyes in 1966.

Of the 14 titles in the BCS football era, the SEC has won eight and no other league more than two.

Since relative league newbie Arkansas won the NCAA basketball title in 1994, the SEC has six championships to the ACC's five and four for the Big East.

Since Georgia ended an SEC drought and won the College World Series in 1990, the SEC has won nine of 22 championships. No other league can boast more than three.

So, if you're Tennessee, where do you fit in this band of well-armed brothers?

Other than the 1998 BCS football title, the Vols haven't contributed to the booty. Their historic rivals, on the other hand, have contributed plenty — with no end in sight.

In Saban, Alabama football is helmed by the unquestioned king of the game, The Vols are 1-7 against Saban, including 0-5 in his Crimson motif.

The marriage of Calipari and Kentucky merged two of UT's most intense hoops dislikes. The Vols at least played even with Calipari at Memphis, going 3-3. They're 1-6 since he traded up to Kentucky.

Tennessee, naturally, hopes to upgrade its marquee programs to championship level. It has the budget, but so far lacks the will to pay the king's ransom required to interest a Saban or Calipari.

In the meantime, UT can cash those SEC checks. And on the way to the bank, don't begrudge Mike Slive his grin.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange.

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Comments » 27

keepitreal4vols writes:

was that story meant to cheer me up or kick more sand in my face?

VolinCalif writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You may not have meant it as a slam, don't know. But the Vols had a ill coach that this team was worrying about all the time, any person can reason that their first worries were for Pat no matter how hard they tried, that had be be forever on their mind. They still made a good showing and I'm proud as H of them. They won no matter what many jerks may say. Anyone that slams what this team did this year can ###, you know d.. well what I am saying and so do all Vol or basketball Fans. I'd state it very clear but KNS would band me for life and rightly so. If your post wasn't a slam I apologize and hope you understand my comment. If it was ... you've got it.

papavol writes:

in response to VolinCalif:

You may not have meant it as a slam, don't know. But the Vols had a ill coach that this team was worrying about all the time, any person can reason that their first worries were for Pat no matter how hard they tried, that had be be forever on their mind. They still made a good showing and I'm proud as H of them. They won no matter what many jerks may say. Anyone that slams what this team did this year can ###, you know d.. well what I am saying and so do all Vol or basketball Fans. I'd state it very clear but KNS would band me for life and rightly so. If your post wasn't a slam I apologize and hope you understand my comment. If it was ... you've got it.

I'm pretty sure that he did not mean it as a slam against the lady vols. just to contradict what MS is saying in his article. Even though he did point out that no other SEC women's team was cutting down the nets since the lady vols. (another well wrote article by Mike Strange)

and yes, the elite 8 appearance for any team is a huge accomplishment. I'm just not so sure Pat and the lady vols see it this way.

VolinCalif writes:

Yes I believe you are correct. I probably shouldn't have mouthed off. Truth is I have never heard Walt say crude things about anyone. So I should have taken it as you did. My apologies to everyone. The thought of anyone bad mouthing this ladies team just set me off. They had a big burden to carry this year and did a great job. I have known several people with the illness Pat has and it isn't pretty toward the end. She has my prayers. Again, to Walt I apologize.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Good point! Had Kelley Cain and Alyssa Brewer stayed on the team there would have been. They were the difference in making the Elite 8 and winning the title this year in my opinion.

Just imagine 6'6" Cain and 6'3" Brewer banging it out with griner while Glory and Shekinna do their thing in the post. It would have been interesting to watch.

underthehill writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

Good point! Had Kelley Cain and Alyssa Brewer stayed on the team there would have been. They were the difference in making the Elite 8 and winning the title this year in my opinion.

Just imagine 6'6" Cain and 6'3" Brewer banging it out with griner while Glory and Shekinna do their thing in the post. It would have been interesting to watch.

The Lady Vols went as far as could reasonably be expected..no one had the talent to beat Baylor and Cain and Brewer would not have helped the Lady Vols ..neither had the speed to run the floor or play defense..It was sad that Cain had injuries and was never in shape to play ..it is going to be very difficult for the Lady Vols to remain at the top of the SEC next year with so many teams other than them having most (if not all) their starters returning..hope they find a way to do it...sure would love to have that Notre Dame coach...when Pat steps down..

MikeInTN writes:

I'm waiting for The Vols to become relevant in football again...waiting...waiting...waiting...

rtrchatt writes:

Would not beat against CNS breaking Coach Bryants record of 11 in a row vs UT. Being that took place in my youth, I "almost" can see
the Vols winning one at some point against the best coach in college fb today, NS.

born2ride writes:

The SEC won championships in football and basketball.

UT was 1-7 in football and finished last in the SEC.

The Vols did not make the NCAA tourney in basketball.

Bama has Saban. UK has Calipari.

AS long as we are stuck with Dooley and Martin we will never be competitive.

Col26ca writes:

in response to born2ride:

The SEC won championships in football and basketball.

UT was 1-7 in football and finished last in the SEC.

The Vols did not make the NCAA tourney in basketball.

Bama has Saban. UK has Calipari.

AS long as we are stuck with Dooley and Martin we will never be competitive.

Good Morning AH why don't u FO and KMA. Cheers

arkyvol writes:

for vols supporters to take pride in being in the sec reminds me of a cartoon i saw in the new yorker when i was in college. it was of a bum picking food from a garbage can at the back entrance of an exclusive club. to a friend, he sniffs, "i only eat at the best places".

lomas98 writes:

It has been pretty depressing seeing the other SEC teams surpass TN. Not only the championships that have been won that were mentioned in the article, but playing in BCS games as well. GA I think has played in 3 BCS since TN won in 98. LSU has played in a couple of others not including the national championship. Arkansas has a BCS appearance. Bama has played in BCS games not including national championship. FL has as well. FL also has had final four apperance besides the national championship. LSU even appeared in a final four a few years back. It is not sane to expect that type of success every year, but it would be nice to compete for it every once in a while. Bruce Pearl made the basketball program relevant and competing, but he messed up. I'm not sure the 2 guys we have are the ones to get us to championship levels, but I will support them as long as they are here. I like the way the basketball team competed last year, Martin just needs to step up his recruiting. Still have doubts about the football team and Dooleys leadership abilities and his composure.

imw8n4u writes:

So why did we feel the need to add A&M and Missouri?

ChicagoVols writes:

Much as it hurts, the writer is correct. We've never had the ambition bama and UK have had. I don't get why, but it's the truth. Even S Car got a very good accomplished ncaa coach and we're stuck with bread crumbs in both sports. It's pathetic, really.

arkyvol writes:

the vols may end up as the illinois of the sec. once upon a time, the illini and the likes of red grange were the scourge of the big ten. they haven't had much more than a pulse in the century that's nearly passed since then.

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Ok...Stop whining....I'd rather be us. We are going to have the most explosive offense in the SEC this year, even if we have to use 6 running backs to do it. Florida goes down....Hard....That's all I'm willing to predict at this juncture.....Hehehe....

VolnPickwick writes:

in response to imw8n4u:

So why did we feel the need to add A&M and Missouri?

A&M is the one the SEC wanted, we needed a presence in Texas, that opens a very furtile recruiting area up to all the teams in the conference. Mizzou is there to balance out the conference. Texas now has a school playing in the SEC and that gives exsposier to the conference in Texas. Which, in turn, gives exsposier to players that come from Texas to the SEC as they will compete against teams playing in the Texas markerts. It really is a win win for the whole conference, IMO.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to rtrchatt:

Would not beat against CNS breaking Coach Bryants record of 11 in a row vs UT. Being that took place in my youth, I "almost" can see
the Vols winning one at some point against the best coach in college fb today, NS.

Wouldn't bet either but some tidbits to consider: that streak in the 70's started against some pretty good UT teams and it was ended by a mediocre team against the #2 ranked Bama. CNS may be > CBB but on any given Saturday...

CoverOrange writes:

The SEC has won 6 BB championships since 1994, 3 of those to Kentucky. Arkansas once was a force and Florida dominated for a couple of years but right now it is pretty much Kentucky and a junior league. The SEC is not a force in basketball.

SevenT writes:

in response to volman2010:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I am growing very tired of these sort of comments. First the NCAA clearing house cleared Rose to play for Memphis, then came back months later after the NCAA clearance and started an investigation. Camby took money under the table from a dirty agent.

Calipari was not implicated by the NCAA

Why don't you explain the Bar B Que Pearl situation.

orangeman1 writes:

in response to arkyvol:

for vols supporters to take pride in being in the sec reminds me of a cartoon i saw in the new yorker when i was in college. it was of a bum picking food from a garbage can at the back entrance of an exclusive club. to a friend, he sniffs, "i only eat at the best places".

Exactly. I used to be an SEC team supporter until about 4 years ago, when it hit me. Why would UT fans want Bama, Fla, LSU, Auburn to win OOC games in football unless UT had a legitimate shot of playing for a National Title. Its not like it helps UT for Bama to win another NC. Actually it hurts them. Same with basketball for Ky. Why would anyone want the school they are competing with on the field and in recruiting to win a NC? Now days since our failures in football, hearing UT fans brag about National Championships by other SEC schools is almost humiliating. Kinda shows me what being a Vandy fan has been like since....well always.

orangeman1 writes:

in response to VolnPickwick:

A&M is the one the SEC wanted, we needed a presence in Texas, that opens a very furtile recruiting area up to all the teams in the conference. Mizzou is there to balance out the conference. Texas now has a school playing in the SEC and that gives exsposier to the conference in Texas. Which, in turn, gives exsposier to players that come from Texas to the SEC as they will compete against teams playing in the Texas markerts. It really is a win win for the whole conference, IMO.

I hear what you're saying, but fact is, it was all about money. The SEC has exposure in every market due to ESPN. If players in Texas wanted to play in the SEC, they would. Actually, I think it could hurt the other SEC schools in recruiting Texas because , now, A&M has that SEC card in their pocket when they didnt before. Athletes may have considered them before, but wanted to play in the SEC so didnt go there. I dont think adding Missouri and A&M does much except expand the TV market and set the stage for other conferences doing the same.$$$$ Missouri was added for the same reason A&M was. St Louis/Missouri is a big market and will bring in revenue to the conference.

UkJarhead writes:

in response to volman2010:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Dear Volman- Please look up the word "fact"

Neither school was put on probation as the schools nor Cal was found to have done anything wrong. The 2 players in question committed wrongs without any proof of school or coach involvement. I doubt you even know the facts of the case since you obviously don't know what the word means and are reporting false truths here. Maybe you should do some research before you show yourself.

BTW, the writer of the article also stated a false truth. The number 1 team in College Baseball is....... The University of Kentucky!!!!

lemme_axya_this writes:

in response to SevenT:

I am growing very tired of these sort of comments. First the NCAA clearing house cleared Rose to play for Memphis, then came back months later after the NCAA clearance and started an investigation. Camby took money under the table from a dirty agent.

Calipari was not implicated by the NCAA

Why don't you explain the Bar B Que Pearl situation.

Well SevenTeeth, if you don't like it, find yourself a Kentucky site to play on, if there are any.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to SevenT:

I am growing very tired of these sort of comments. First the NCAA clearing house cleared Rose to play for Memphis, then came back months later after the NCAA clearance and started an investigation. Camby took money under the table from a dirty agent.

Calipari was not implicated by the NCAA

Why don't you explain the Bar B Que Pearl situation.

Pearl was caught lying and got busted for it. Seems pretty simple to me. UK has a LONG history of getting busted way worse for things Pearl never thought about doing, or at least never thought he could get away with. True enough, Calapari is officially clean...so far.

rockypop writes:

Some have suggested that universities pick a major revenue sport to put the bulk of their budget dollars in, instead of trying to build championship programs in both (football & men's basketball). This strategy has been successful for schools like Alabama, LSU, USC, Michigan, Florida, Ohio State, and Texas in football (among others), and Kentucky, North Carolina, UCLA, Kansas, Duke, and UConn in basketball (also among others).

Few schools can claim championship caliber programs in both with the rare exceptions of possibly Florida and Ohio State.

Mike Hamilton's stated goal for UT's athletic program was to "challenge for championships every year." Maybe that meant every sport - maybe only the top two revenue sports, or maybe whatever he wanted it to be. But, clearly, whatever he meant, it's not happening.

All I know is that of all the schools that are mentioned above, UT has more of all the ingredients necessary to succeed at the championship level than any of them, with the possible exception of recruiting for football. And, history has proven that this shouldn't be a problem.

I, for one, am not thrilled with what college athletics has become. But, as they say - it is what it is, and UT has to get in the game by bringing whatever resources are necessary to bare in order to be a player. Even if it's only a single sport.

decades_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to Col26ca:

Good Morning AH why don't u FO and KMA. Cheers

Don't tempt him. Old b2 might just come by your house to express his opinions personally. If you see a parked scooter in your driveway and see someone coming to your door, just don't open the door. You'll only have yourself to blame.

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