With Steve Spurrier speaking out recently concerning SEC scheduling, we decided to go back and look at the SEC championship game participants over the last decade and who they played out of division.
One thing to keep in mind is that until last season everybody in the league played three games outside their division. With Missouri and Texas A&M joining the league, that number dwindled to two.
Over the last decade, only one team has made the SEC championship game after playing three cross-divisional opponents with winning SEC records.
Wouldn’t you know it. That team was Spurrier’s 2010 South Carolina club. The Gamecocks beat Alabama (5-3), but lost to Arkansas (6-2) and Auburn (8-0). South Carolina was the only team in the East that season with a winning league record. In fact, four of the six teams that year in the East finished with losing SEC records.
During the last two seasons, the SEC championship game participants didn’t play a single team from the other division that finished with a winning SEC record. In fact, seven of their 10 combined opponents out of division won two or fewer league games.
In the last six years, only one time has a team making the SEC championship game had to face more than one cross-divisional opponent with a winning league record. Once again, that team was South Carolina in 2010.
Alabama has played in the SEC championship game three times under Nick Saban (2008, 2009 and 2012). Only one of the eight cross-divisional foes the Crimson Tide played in those three years had a winning conference record. Georgia finished 6-2 in 2008.
Likewise, LSU has also played in the SEC championship game three times under Les Miles (2005, 2007 and 2011). Of the Tigers' nine cross-divisional opponents in those three years, seven finished with losing conference records.
What’s all this mean?
Make up your own mind, but below is a look at the participants in the last 10 SEC championship games and a rundown of who they played out of division and the combined league records of those opponents:
Alabama: 3-13 (Missouri 2-6 and Tennessee 1-7)
Georgia: 3-13 (Auburn 0-8 and Ole Miss 3-5)
LSU: 6-18 (Florida 3-5, Kentucky 2-6 and Tennessee 1-7)
Georgia: 6-18 (Auburn 4-4, Mississippi State 2-6 and Ole Miss 0-8)
Auburn: 10-14 (Georgia 3-5, Kentucky 2-6 and South Carolina 5-3)
South Carolina: 19-5 (Alabama 5-3, Arkansas 6-2 and Auburn 8-0)
Alabama: 10-14 (Kentucky 3-5, South Carolina 3-5 and Tennessee 4-4)
Florida: 11-13 (Arkansas 3-5, LSU 5-3 and Mississippi State 3-5)
Alabama: 11-13 (Georgia 6-2, Kentucky 2-6 and Tennessee 3-5)
Florida: 10-14 (Arkansas 2-6, LSU 3-5 and Ole Miss 5-3)
LSU: 11-13 (Florida 5-3, Kentucky 3-5 and South Carolina 3-5)
Tennessee: 12-12 (Alabama 4-4, Arkansas 4-4 and Mississippi State 4-4)
Arkansas: 9-15 (South Carolina 3-5, Tennessee 5-3 and Vanderbilt 1-7)
Florida: 14-10 (Alabama 2-6, Auburn 6-2 and LSU 6-2)
LSU: 11-13 (Florida 5-3, Tennessee 3-5 and Vanderbilt 3-5)
Georgia: 10-14 (Arkansas 2-6, Auburn 7-1 and Mississippi State 1-7)
Auburn: 14-10 (Georgia 6-2, Kentucky 1-7 and Tennessee 7-1)
Tennessee: 14-10 (Alabama 3-5, Auburn 8-0 and Ole Miss 3-5)
LSU: 14-10 (Florida 6-2, Georgia 6-2 and South Carolina 2-6)
Georgia: 14-10 (Alabama 2-6, Auburn 5-3 and LSU 7-1)