Florida defeated Kentucky for the 26th straight time on Saturday. The last time the Wildcats beat the Gators, UF coach Will Muschamp was 15 years old.
When Florida plays Vanderbilt on Oct. 13, the Gators will likely extend their winning streak against the Commodores to 22 games.
The Southeastern Conference has claimed the last six BCS Champions. But once you get past the eight top dogs, there is not much to offer.
If the SEC truly wants to make its claim as the supreme football conference in the nation, it needs to make changes. It’s time to kick some of these schools to the curb.
I’m not saying schools need to be removed from the conference entirely. But when it comes to football, some teams are overmatched.
Eight schools — Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, South Carolina and Tennessee — have SEC-caliber football programs and have earned permanent status. Each boasts either an appropriate amount of current success or enough past triumphs to compensate for recent struggles.
Kentucky, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt are the odd schools out when it comes to football. Texas A&M and Missouri must abide by the replacement school rules listed below:
1. The school must be located in a state belonging to the former Confederate States of America. Sorry, West Virginia.
2. The school must have a Chick-fil-A on campus — end of discussion.
3. A replacement school must have had a 10-win season in the last five years.
4. When you’re out of SEC football, you’re out. Re-entry is forbidden. Period.
5. You have five years to prove your worth. Back-to-back seasons with a conference record above .500 earns an additional year. Division titles earn three additional years, and SEC championships earn five additional years. Once you accumulate 10 additional years, permanent football status is awarded and all-sports membership is considered.
With the guidelines out of the way, here is the reasoning for each school receiving football expulsion, plus a potential replacement.
In Lexington, Ky., basketball is king and football is a drag.
Wildcats fans camp out to buy tickets for Big Blue Madness — a midnight basketball practice. Tickets sold out in 35 minutes this year.
Meanwhile, Kentucky’s average football attendance has decreased by nearly 10,000 fans — a 14 percent drop — from 2009 to 2011.
Since 2002, UK is 23-57 in SEC play with two last-place finishes.
The Wildcats are a no-brainer for football removal, and if not for their elite basketball program, a serious candidate for permanent expulsion.
Replacement Candidate: North Carolina — Granted, UNC is also primarily a basketball school, and the Tar Heels are at home in the Atlantic Coast Conference. But with offensive genius Larry Fedora leading the program, it would be interesting.
Vandy has finished with a winning percentage better than .500 once since 1982. The Commodores have 16 winless seasons in SEC play. It’s time.
From an academic standpoint, Vanderbilt helps raise the SEC’s profile quite a bit. Also, the Commodores would continue to compete in baseball and men’s basketball — two sports in which they have enjoyed great success while playing in the SEC.
And don’t forget women’s bowling — 2007 national champions!
It’s difficult to dismiss coach James Franklin’s optimistic vision for the program, but when you’re the homecoming opponent for half the teams on your schedule, the SEC moniker is not for you.
Replacement Candidate: Louisville — The Cardinals boast a respectable history, and they are trending up under coach Charlie Strong.
There are few places better than The Grove on a college football Saturday, but unless the Rebels have a Manning under center, they are irrelevant.
Their only SEC win in the last two seasons was against Kentucky. Ouch.
The Ole Miss football program is moving at the pace of its on-campus speed limit — 18 miles per hour, to honor Archie.
The Rebels last won an SEC title in 1963. Since then, Ole Miss has one SEC West championship, which they shared with LSU in 2003. The Tigers won the tiebreaker.
When you hire Hugh Freeze as your new coach, it’s a sign you’ve given up.
Replacement Candidate: Clemson — The Gamecocks would likely block the move, but the Tigers bring the atmosphere of an SEC program, and Dabo Swinney has Clemson positioned as a perennial Top-25 power.
The Bulldogs have won one conference championship since joining the SEC as a founding member in 1933. They won it in 1941.
Coach Dan Mullen has gotten the ball rolling in Starkville, Miss., in the last two seasons by notching back-to-back bowl victories and two NFL first-round draft picks.
However, until an early-season win against Auburn in 2012, Mississippi State had not won a game against an SEC West opponent other than Ole Miss since 2008.
Ending the season with seven or eight victories is nice, but if you’re a non-factor in the divisional race, then what’s the point?
Replacement Candidate: Virginia Tech — The Hokies would fill the maroon void left by the Bulldogs and add a program with rich tradition and a passionate fan base. Coach Frank Beamer has won seven conference titles and coached in six BCS bowls at Virginia Tech.
My suggested changes may seem radical — perhaps even unreasonable. Do I foresee a system like this ever seeing the light of day? Probably not.
But something should be done to make the SEC more competitive. To some, the league may seem tough enough already.
However, in the so-called toughest conference in college football, there should be no automatic victories. It’s time to shake things up.
Contact Joe Morgan at [email protected].