Conference Dominance Reaches Further Than Football
Compared to most other conferences, the Southeastern Conference is regarded as a different kind of animal.
The passionate, live-and-die with their team fans often feel a sense of pride for their conference when a team that is normally a bitter rival wins a bowl game. Few, if any, other schools take this kind of pride in the conference they belong to.
Of course football is the driving force behind this conference pride, and with good reason. Seven consecutive national titles is something that no other conference has ever accomplished and something that likely won’t be accomplished again for a long time, if ever.
Last season, members of the SEC enjoyed postseason success in a variety of sports. Unless they were living under a rock, most fans know that Kentucky won the men’s basketball national title last season. Most of them probably don’t know that eight SEC teams, as well as Texas A&M, made the women’s NCAA tournament.
At the indoor track championships last season, three men’s SEC teams finished in the top five, including the top two. Three women’s teams finished in the top 10.
At the men’s outdoor championships, the SEC scored 177.5, 52.5 points higher than the Big Ten and Pac 12.
Three of the six teams that made the gymnastics Super Six last season came from the SEC, including winner Alabama and runner up Florida.
Eight SEC softball teams made the NCAA tournament as well as the two teams that would become SEC teams, Texas A&M and Missouri. Alabama went on to win the tournament over Oklahoma.
Despite all of this success in so many different sports, most fans still see football as the sport that the SEC is the most dominant in. Seven consecutive national titles is a big accomplishment, but when it comes to football, the conference is top-heavy.
The teams that are good in the SEC are really good, but the teams that are bad are really bad. Arkansas lost to both the University of Louisiana-Monroe and Rutgers and barely beat Tulsa 19-15, but the Razorbacks still defeated Kentucky and Auburn a combined 73-14.
The sport that the SEC is really good at top to bottom is baseball. Part of this has to do with being in the South and getting warmer weather sooner than the rest of the country. Another big part of it is fan support.
Baseball games barely draw fraction of the attendance that a football game does, but in comparison to other conferences, SEC fans love baseball.
According to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, four SEC schools, LSU, Arkansas, South Carolina and Ole Miss, draw more fans than any other school. LSU averaged over 10,000 fans at each game last season, which is more than they average for basketball.
Seven SEC teams qualified for regionals last year along with future members Texas A&M and Missouri. Three SEC teams made College World Series appearances, including Arkansas and South Carolina, who played each other in the semifinals.
If preseason polls are any indication, this year could be just as good for the conference. Perfect Game has eight SEC teams in their top 25, including three of the top five. Collegiate Baseball ranked 10 SEC schools in the top 30.
Haley Markle is the Assistant Sports Editor for the Arkansas Traveler. Her column appears every Monday. Follow the sports section on Twitter @UATravSports.