The rest of the country despises the Southeastern Conference.
They can’t stand the league marketing slogan “It Just Means More.”
Yeah, more revenue generated than any other league to spend on more recruiting, more facilities and more marketing to build more programs in all men’s and women’s sports designed to steamroll everything in its way year after year.
Five league schools – Alabama, Auburn, Florida Georgia and LSU – have combined to have won the last 13 of 17 national football championships, including a current streak of four straight.
“The College Football Playoff selection is rigged,” SEC haters scream.
Five conference members have won the last 6 of 9 College World Series, including LSU in 2023, Ole Miss in 2022, Mississippi State in 2021 and Vanderbilt in 2019 after the COVID outbreak cancelled most of the 2020 baseball season.
“That’s easy to do when the SEC gets at three to four teams in the CWS every year because they get home field advantage in the regionals and Super Regionals,” seething SEC detractors complain.
If you think there’s now a sensory overload doomsday feeling the SEC wins just about everything now – more than 200 national championships since the first league expansion to 12 teams in 1991-92, then consider this next piece of information.
Five SEC schools won eight national championships in the 2022-23 academic year – Georgia (football), LSU (baseball and women’s basketball), Florida (men’s golf and men’s outdoor track), Arkansas (men’s and women’s indoor track) and Vanderbilt (women’s bowling).
Add the national titles won by Texas (women’s outdoor track and volleyball) and by Oklahoma (gymnastics and softball), which join the SEC a year from now, and the number jumps to 12 NCAA national team titles won this past school year by the future SEC family.
Which makes SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey extremely happy.
“If you look at the history of college football, we added two of the top five programs with (the best) winning percentage,” said Sankey, who attended the Arkansas at LSU game last weekend and met with the media prior to kickoff. “The crowds that they’ll attract when they play make me excited for the future.
“We have to prepare with the intensity of the competition. That’s not only in football, though. You look at the national championships this past spring that our future configuration won.
“It’s going to a remarkable level of competition in every sport.”
In the last 15 years, every SEC member except for Missouri has won a national championship in one of the 20 sports (9 men, 11 women) that the league sponsors. Thirteen league schools have captured national titles in multiple sports.
The SEC wheels of expansion have always turned slowly yet with deliberate purpose.
It took the league 35 years to grow from 10 teams to 12 teams with the addition of Arkansas and South Carolina starting in the 1991-92 school year.
Twenty-one years would pass before the SEC added Texas A&M and Missouri in 2012 as the 13th and 14th schools. And now, we are in the final season in every sport before Oklahoma and Texas become the 15th and 16th SEC members starting in the 2024-25 school year.
Except for the 1992 expansion when the SEC actively sought Florida State and Texas, the league hasn’t had to shop for schools. As decades passed with the league gaining steam with TV contracts that provided unprecedented revenue and exposure that led to the birth of ESPN’s 24-hour-a-day SEC Network in August 2014, schools approached the SEC about joining the league.
There are a couple of things the SEC has always known when adding new members. The schools are usually the flagship universities in their respective states or they must be in a state connecting to a state or states that already have current SEC members.
Unlike the Big Ten which will add next year two new members (USC and UCLA) located three time zones away from the majority of the league, or the ACC will add three schools including Stanford and Cal, which are more than 2,700 miles from most current ACC numbers, all 16 teams in the new SEC reside in 12 states that somehow border each other.
“Being geographically sensible was very much on our mind,” Sankey said. “You want young student-athletes in class preparing themselves academically and preparing competitively and not on airplanes.
“We had a clarifying conversation (with SEC member presidents and chancellors) in June 2022. It was one of our chancellors who said, `We really know who we are. We have a sense of identity that fans and teams and people want to be a part of it. So, let’s just focus on our identity.’
“What happened this summer (which the Big Ten and ACC leap-frogging time zones to steal Pac 12 schools as new members) validates our decision to move the way we did when there was an opportunity with Oklahoma and Texas.
“We still should be thinking from a geographic standpoint. Interestingly enough, we don’t stretch schools further. Some of our teams will have reduced mileage in travel, and that’s pretty unique.”
The league is still hashing a conference football schedule beyond next season’s eight-game league slate, which includes Texas and Oklahoma each playing seven current SEC schools each besides playing themselves. LSU, after playing Oklahoma just three times in the history of both programs (all in the postseason), will host the Sooners for the first time in the regular season.
Sankey still would like a nine-game SEC schedule in the future with three permanent opponents and six rotating opponents. LSU’s likely three permanent opponents would be Alabama, Texas A&M and Ole Miss.
“Are things going to change?” Sankey said. “Yes. How much change? We’re working through that. The conference controls the schedule and there are a variety of ways we’ve scheduled over time. Now, we’re at 16 teams, there are a lot of pieces.”
Just makes the chess match in every SEC sport more intriguing than any time in its 91-year history.
And the rest of the country can’t take much more of “It Just Means More.”
Contact Ron at firstname.lastname@example.org