The SEC wins one national championship in football and immediately starts building for another. You can check out the recruiting service of your choice to see how it's doing.
In fact, the recruiting top 25 for 2013 glows just as brightly from an SEC vantage point as the final top 25 for the 2012 season, which had five conference teams in the top nine and two more in the top 25.
Vanderbilt is in both top 25s. Imagine that.
It has been hard enough recently for Tennessee to compete with the likes of Alabama, Florida and Georgia on the field and in recruiting. Now, it has to worry about Vanderbilt under second-year coach James Franklin.
That's just what the Vols didn't need.
Vanderbilt always has had something to sell — great academics and a good city. But at some crucial point in the conversation between recruiter and recruit, the subject of winning would come up.
There hasn't been much dead air with Franklin, who has succeeded in recruiting where so many of his predecessors failed. He recruited a top-25 class last season even though a bowl defeat left the Commodores with more losses than wins. It makes you wonder how well he will capitalize on the program's first nine-win season since 1915.
It also makes you wonder how that will impact the Vols and new coach Butch Jones.
Almost everywhere UT turns in the Southeast recruiting region, it bumps into a program seemingly on the rise. Alabama just won back-to-back national titles; Georgia finished No. 5 in the country; Clemson and South Carolina each won 11 games; North Carolina posted its best record (8-4) since 1997 under first-year coach Larry Fedora; and Ole Miss and Mississippi State finished with winning records in the same season for the first time since 2000.
The Vols, who have had three consecutive losing seasons, no longer have to leave their own state to compete against a higher-ranked opponent. ESPN currently ranks Vanderbilt's 2013 class No. 17 — 13 spots ahead of Tennessee's.
Perhaps the Vols will finish strong and overtake the Commodores. But the idea that UT even needs a recruiting surge to overtake Vanderbilt must be alarming to its fans, especially after a 41-18 loss to the Commodores in November.
You will find out much more about Franklin's 2012 recruiting class this fall.
Brian Kimbrow, a four-star running back from Memphis, demonstrated his potential as a freshman. So did freshman backup linebackers Jake Sealand and Darreon Herring, who will assume more prominent roles this fall, as will defensive end Caleb Azubike.
The success of the class might ultimately be determined by the six offensive
linemen Franklin signed. If the majority of them pan out, that bodes well for Vanderbilt's future offenses.
Former Maryville High School star Patton Robinette also could be a factor in those offenses. The 6-foot-4 Robinette will compete with Austyn Carta-Samuels to succeed Jordan Rodgers as the Commodores' starting quarterback.
Carta-Samuels, who backed up Rodgers this past season, has more experience. He was the Mountain West Conference freshman of the year in 2010 at Wyoming before transferring. However, Robinette impressed the Commodores in his redshirt season.
Robinette wants to be a physician, according to his bio in the Vanderbilt media guide. But the Commodores aren't just selling academics these days.
They're suddenly a top-25 program trying to recruit another top-25 class. And, strange as it seems, Tennessee is the program trying to catch up.
(For the latest on Tennessee recruiting, please see govols247.)