The SEC East, where good recruiting classes go to die.

Not pretty.

Kentucky’s in second place in this division, which says more about the division than it does about Kentucky. Onetime leader and national title contender Tennessee has collapsed on itself like a star. Top-10 recruiter Georgia is 4-4. Missouri isn’t even a dilapidated shell of what it was a few years ago, and Vanderbilt is Vanderbilt.

So far this year, the West is 7-1 against the East, with the only win by Kentucky against Mississippi State.

From SEC Country:

Should the East lose out, including for an eighth consecutive year in the SEC title game, it would continue the trend of declining success against the West every season since expansion in 2012. That year, the East went 7-8 against the West, then 6-9 in 2013, 4-11 in 2014 and 2-13 last fall.

Hard to understand, too.

Still, the East should never be this bad.

The SEC East has a handful of the country’s top recruiters. Florida and Georgia regularly recruit at a national championship level, and Tennessee hasn’t been so far behind. The division’s footprint includes some of the country’s best recruiting areas, several of its members throw tons of money at football, and all seven teams have made fresh coaching hires in the last few years.

Based on that, here’s the sobering thought about our perception of Kirby’s master plan, recruiting über alles.  What if he succeeds in bringing in better classes and it doesn’t make any difference?

84 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

84 responses to “The SEC East, where good recruiting classes go to die.

  1. It will be a very short time before someone reaps the benefit of the strategy … see Zook, Ron and Meyer, Urban. Maybe the other benefit is that the athletics establishment will get blown up.

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  2. DawgPhan

    I think that the teams in the SEC east have made a lot of really suspect coaching decisions. And not just for the head guys either. A lot of suspect “he can recruit real good” position coaches and coordinators.

    Lots of churn in the coaches as well.

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  3. PTC DAWG

    Who is left from these so called top classes is the key…

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  4. Since 2012: 2-1, 1-1, 2-0, 1-1, 0-1.

    That’s a last second loss in the SECCG, a fluke tipped billion yard TD in the last second, and an ass beating by Bama, and this year’s beating at Ole Miss with a rookie coach. 6-4 since 2012 vs the West with 2 losses coming down to the last minute and 4 wins by double digits.

    Yeah, we’re probably losing to Auburn this year, too. But we’ve beaten them when it looked more bleak, so there.

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  5. To me, the SEC West schools jumped on oversigning and the importance of roster management much, much quicker than the East schools.

    Even now that they’ve reeled that in some, the culture is ingrained.

    Maybe the East will catch up at some point, but the Sabanization of the West has really elevated that side.

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  6. David K

    Richt was coaching against the same wasteland. Florida was upturned by Muschamp, Spurrier had quit recruiting, Tennessee was limping along with Dooley. How we haven’t had a stranglehold on the East the past 4 years is ridiculous. We were supposed to be the stable powerhouse of the bunch, yet we allowed Missouri to win a few times and then Florida with an average at best team last year.

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    • Otto

      Agreed, UGA should have been SEC East champ 4 of the last 5.

      If Smart doesn’t pan out, hopefully UGA hires a head coach with head coaching experience and does not go with the hot coordinator or the guy with Athens connections. He will likely have the full backing from vast majority of the fan base.

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      • Mayor

        History teaches us that it is not the HC who succeeds the longtime successful HC that ends up being the Man–it is the guy after that. Love him or hate him CMR won about 75% of his games while in Athens, the highest winning percentage in Georgia football history. CMR also won 2 SEC Championships and won or tied for 7 SEC East titles in 15 seasons. Kirby Stupid isn’t the Man. The guy who comes after him is going to be the Man. FU has raised this to an art form.

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        • ugafidelis

          This coming from the commenter still bitching about not spiking the ball 4 years ago… Done by a 12 year first time head coach who lost his job to a first time head coach.

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    • You nailed it. I’ve always thought we let some advantageous years pass us by with nothing to show for it in our division.

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  7. I do wonder how it would look if we would go to a 9 game schedule where you would get to play more than 2 teams a year from that side.

    I mean, yeah, someone else has to take an annual Bama beat down, but someone else gets another crack at MSU or Arkansas or Auburn last year, etc.

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  8. MGW

    Then the next guy will have a good base of talent to build on, which is nice.

    I believe Smart was a great hire and he’ll win championships. But, if he doesn’t work out, I hope we don’t just go get another Saban guy like Florida did. We’re trying it, and I hope it works.

    If it doesn’t, lets go the opposite direction; get the next great thing who is scoring a shitload of points in some other conference and set him lose with some real talent. Either way, I’d have been upset this go round if we didn’t hire someone with a reputation of recruiting his ass off. Thats called insurance.

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  9. Rick

    “and all seven teams have made fresh coaching hires in the last few years.”

    And so continues the myth that there is anything good about a ‘fresh’ coaching hire. Coaching changes used to be improvements, because you’d wait until a coach wasn’t doing so hot before canning him. Now that Nick Saban has made the entire conference lose it’s f*cking mind, we just fire whoever whenever.

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  10. Will Trane

    This is my complaint against Smart. It took him over a month to come in while he still worked for Saban. Can not serve two masters at the same time. That is nothing but stupidity and arrogance.
    2017 will for all purposes be Smart’s first full class.
    He inherited a lot of mediocre players. But you always have the folks and crowd hang to names like Chubb, Michel, Eason, and a few others who try to make you think the Dawgs have players. They do not. Long way from it.
    Their biggest priority is recruiting a battleship load and size of o-line men and some receivers. All of the must be big, quick, and means as hell.
    There are some players in this state. Build the damn firewall for a change.
    The last three o-line coaches recruited no o-line players. Just look down that roster.
    Since ’13 this program has gone for glitter and not players. It sacrificed linemen on both sides of the ball. You have to build there or it will not work.

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    • Chi-town Dawg

      I didn’t agree with Kirby working for Bama the extra month, but don’t think it hurt us on the recruiting trail in 2016 because he was extremely active and we signed a very solid class. I do think it may’ve impacted us in the area of team/staff development and other organizational matters, but not recruiting, which is one area I feel very confident about with Kirby.

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    • Napoleon BonerFart

      UGA’s recruiting classes have been top 10 forever. And most of our awful linemen were offered scholarships from other SEC schools, including the infallible Alabama.

      While our OL hasn’t performed well, they also haven’t been coached up much. If Smart has sold out on needing a team full of 5-star kids in order to be bowl eligible, then I don’t expect much from UGA under his tenure. For our next coach, I would prefer to see someone like Hermann or Petersen who can compete with P5 teams without having the recruits those teams have.

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      • Herman will be at Texas and Petersen is a West Coast guy with a special needs child that’s never lived East of Idaho.

        In other words, not gonna happen.

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        • Napoleon BonerFart

          You’re probably correct. That’s why, instead of creating an exhaustive list of realistic candidates that would be available in 5 years, I used the qualifier “like.”

          But thanks for the addition to the discussion.

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        • Mayor

          Well, if you want someone who is right around the corner and who has been having success just about as much as Petersen and Herman, how about Dabo Swinney. And the Georgia “braintrust” never even called him.

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          • Sure, most coaches willingly leave a team that just played for a NC with Watson at QB. Why the f would he leave?

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            • Napoleon BonerFart

              It’s very common for coaches to upgrade their contracts after very successful seasons. Swinney happened to stay where he was when upgrading. And I see little chance that UGA will be willing to pay top 10 money for a coach anytime soon. But the point of Bluto’s post was that it might be worth a call. Even if the only result was getting him a raise at his current school.

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    • Truckin

      You are an idiot.

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  11. Hogbody Spradlin

    Funny how a bunch of unrelated paths become a trend.

    The only thing I can discern as a common cause is in the West. Bama and LSU were both good since 2008, and everybody else threw the kitchen sink into catching up with them.

    Every tale of decline in the East has it’s own distinct father.

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  12. Irwin R. Fletcher

    Florida and Georgia regularly recruit at a national championship level, and Tennessee hasn’t been so far behind

    Sorry, but this is complete garbage. It’s lazy. Those recruiting websites sell rankings to the masses but real reporters shouldn’t be so quick to regurgitate that.

    What is ‘recruiting at a national championship level’? To me, it would be complete recruiting classes meaning heavy on blue chips (5 and 4 stars), cover all phases of the game, and most especially build depth in the trenches.

    I mentioned this yesterday but worth another look…Just look at the Offensive Line recruiting over the last 4 seasons…
    Players signed in the top 15 at OG and OT since 2014..Bama 10; LSU 8; Ole Miss 5; TAMU 4; Arky 4; Auburn 3….and then there is the East with UF, UT, Mizzou, USC, & UGA 2 (Wynn and Cleveland); and UK 1.

    It doesn’t take 500 words and a journalism degree to tell you that number 1, there is no way you can look at that list and say that UF or UGA are recruiting at a “National Championship” level…again, that’s just lazy and 2., there is a reason the West is dominating the East and it starts up front.

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    • Otto

      It is like any stat, only showing part of a picture. Reminds me of a D that doesn’t give up passing yards because they can’t stop the run, and thus the other team doesn’t pass near as often.

      Recruiting rankings look at the recruits signed not meeting the needs of the team. You can have a highly rated class off 4 and 5 star QBs, RBs, and WRs but not have the line to do anything with them.
      http://patrickgarbin.blogspot.com/2015/01/living-low-on-hogs.html

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      • mwo

        According to Rivals, since 2008, UGAs recruiting classes have been ranked as follows: 7,6,16,5,12,12,7, and 6. Bama was ranked first in each of those years. One of these things is not like the other! One is national championship level and one is not.

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        • mwo

          I omitted 11th for 2016.

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        • Yea, thats just talk radio lazy thinking to claim that UGA is a top tier SEC recruiting powerhouse. We are just a little better than average, with a couple of really nice shiny objects that divert everyone’s attention away from roster management failings and substandard line recruitment.

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        • Otto

          I was not saying that UGA was at Bama’s level of recruiting but UGA recruiting level is on par with playoff teams other than Bama which has clearly been in a class of their own. UGA has the classes (looking at overall rankings only) to go 2-0 against Clemson over that span and win the East.

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          • PTC DAWG

            Name the high quality OL we have signed…

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          • Irwin R. Fletcher

            UGA recruiting level is on par with playoff teams other than Bama

            Nope.

            Ohio State has signed 7 OT/OG in the top 15 in the past 4 classes.
            Michigan has signed 7.
            FSU 5.
            Clemson 4.

            The whole point is that looking at recruiting service rankings is lazy because you could sign 6 LB’s each year for two years that are rated at .9000 and it would show up the same in those rankings as signing 2 LBs, 2 OT, and a RB one year all rated .9000 and then 1 QB, 2 DTs, 2 LBs and OG and Safety the next all rated .9000.

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            • DawgPhan

              So if you expand the cutoff to top 20 @ OT/OG then UGA has 5 over the last 4 classes and Clemson has 4.

              If you expand it to include top 20 OCs then UGA has 6 in the last 4 classes and Clemson still has 4.

              What was your point again? The number of top OL recruited is a good indicator or recruiting at a title level and UGA just hasnt done that?

              Was that your point?

              UGA’s recruiting needs to improve. The line needs to improve, but the results on the field are not explained as easily as “we didnt recruit well enough”.

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              • Irwin R. Fletcher

                You can expand it to top 100 for all I care. My point is that you have to be heavy on blue chips and when you start getting into guys ranked in the top 300 instead of top 100…I think you lose that definition.

                Look…UGA has recruited well enough to be competitive in the ACC or the Big 12. But that’s not the league they are in and that’s certainly not the same thing as recruiting on a national championship level. And it certainly isn’t relevant when talking about the East vs the West ….which is the whole point.

                Keep trying to find complicated answers though. It’s entertaining.

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            • Napoleon BonerFart

              Right. Alabama has had a recruiting staff of hundreds for years, but everybody else should have met the same standard. However, can you explain how Florida has recruited offensive line talent equal to, or worse than, UGA’s, yet are on a winning streak in Jax? Thanks.

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              • Irwin R Fletcher

                Is this a trick question? Because they play us in Jacksonville and not a team for the SEC West.

                Any more brain busters?-Billy Madison

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                • Napoleon BonerFart

                  Before you get too snarky, read my question again. Talent certainly explains why UGA isn’t as good as Alabama. It doesn’t explain why UGA isn’t as good as Florida, Tennessee, or Auburn.

                  Is the key to beating Florida and Tennessee that we need to recruit significantly better than those teams? If Florida has 4 star kids, we need 5 stars?

                  Bum Phillips once said that “[Bear] Bryant can take his’n and beat your’n, and then he can turn around and take your’n and beat his’n.” I always viewed that quote as being about the essence of good coaching. If he were talking about Kirby Smart, he might say that he can take anybody’s 5 stars and beat anybody else’s 3 stars. But that just doesn’t strike me as that impressive, amirite?

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        • What were those classes within the SEC?

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    • Good post. I was wondering if anyone was going to bring this up. Its all about line play. You can have all the blue chippers you want in skill position areas, but you don’t dominate without serious line recruits. I would be curious to see a recruiting rankings skewed toward lineman and then see the correlation between their recruitment and a programs success.

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      • Irwin R. Fletcher

        If you’re curious…other schools who have recruited well in the OG/OT area in the same period? Michigan, Ohio State, FSU, Clemson, Notre Dame, and USC. Shocker, right?

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    • DawgPhan

      wait, which of those teams are competing for championships? Besides Bama that is.

      All the recruiting guys say UGA recruits pretty well. But I am sure that you will say that recruiting rankings are stupid and meaningless. And something about transfers.

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      • RandallPinkFloyd

        Irwin was nice enough to explain the fault in saying we recruit well when we don’t recruit the OL trenches well. Just read above. But I’m sure you’ll come back with something snarky instead.

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        • DawgPhan

          and the stat he posted in support of his statement that we dont recruit at a title level was basically debunked by the stat that he posted.

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          • Irwin R. Fletcher

            I posted a stat that showed that we do recruit a a national championship level? Oh wait…no i didn’t.

            The point was that the ‘powers’ in the East should be able to compete with the West because they recruit at a national championship level. My point is that I don’t know how you can possibly defend defining it as ‘national championship level’ by saying it is ok to be out recruited by just about every program in the West on O-Line talent..

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            • DawgPhan

              I mean you keep mentioning title level recruiting…you quoted a title level recruiting statement to lead your reply, but you weren’t talking about it.

              gotcha.

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              • You know, you could consider the points other people make and maybe question some of your own assumptions. Or you can just continue to be a dick.

                OL recruiting has been below where it needed to be for the better part of 10 years. You are literally one of the only people on this site that won’t concede that.

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                • dawgfan

                  And not only that, I just read over on dawgnation that Solomon Kindley lost his redshift because he was in on 1(one) play against Missouri. Ga signed a grand total of 2 offensive lineman and appears to be wasting a red shirt for one. This seems incredibly inept if true.

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                • DawgPhan

                  Conceded that point up the thread. Have always conceded that point. At no time have I ever thought that UGA recruited at the level they needed to. Recruiting could have always been improved.

                  my point is that the attitude of we can’t win now, we cant compete with vandy and nicholls state because we didnt sign enough top 15, or whatever cutoff you use, OL recruits is silly. It’s a waste of effort and that opinion is not worthy of consideration.

                  UGA recruits at a top 10 level nationally. We are currently ranked 70th. Missing on a handful of guys more than the other teams above us doesnt account for the huge difference in on the field performance.

                  Kirby fans are the only ones that can’t seem to grasp the nuance there.

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                  • Irwin R. Fletcher

                    Did you read the post or did you just start your inane rambling in the comments?

                    If you think I’m a ‘Kirby Fan’ then you must not have been around this blog for the last 5 years or so. And trust me…nuance doesn’t mean what you apparently think it does.

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              • Just admit that you lost the argument.

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    • Connor

      All that stat might indicate is a reason why the West has been better than the East. It’s not helping my understand why we are in the back half of the weakest division in the power 5 right now.
      I really hope that UGA fields a team one day that has every single position stocked with 5 star upperclassmen. That will be great. I also hope that Kirby has a plan for the years when that isn’t the case, because it’s going to happen most years.

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      • Irwin R. Fletcher

        We didn’t like that plan. We fired Richt for winning 10 games a year with that plan. We hired Kirby to stock them cupboards and win championships!

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  13. Q

    The East has 2/7 schools that don’t give a shit about football, while the west has Saban. There’s your difference. UGA and UF have been relative equal to their yearly western opponents.

    UGA and Florida have NOT been recruiting at Bamas level, i.e. championship level, since Meyer did from 06-08. And certainly not oversigning and cutting the fat to reload every year. The rosters aren’t comparable. Silliness.

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  14. Tronan

    Maybe this is tangential, but do most players really care about championships? Big time CFB is a minor league for the pros. I’ve always gotten the impression that highly touted recruits play college ball where they feel they’ll be most comfortable prepping for the pros. For example, UGA has maintained a fairly consistent pipeline of future NFL talent despite becoming an afterthought for any kind of title. More anecdotally, I know a guy who’s son was a star HS RB back in the early aughts. Clemson, another traditionally good but not great program, recruited him. The coaches said, “We’re preparing players for the NFL.”

    Don’t get me wrong, championships are nice. I can’t imagine anyone wouldn’t want one. And, the teams that are consistent contenders typically attract more good recruits because they probably do a better job getting the most out of them (which often translates to pro readiness). But, championships seem to matter most by far to the fans. And, as we know, fans matter the least in the current world of CFB.

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    • Otto

      While that does have some merit. Auburn, Oregon and much of the BigXII run spread systems which are not NFL like and still recruit well, putting kids in the NFL.

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      • Chi-town Dawg

        I think Tronan raises a good point. My guess is that most of these kids are looking for 1) lots of playing time 2) a school/staff that prepares them for the NFL and 3) a program they like i.e., fit with other players and coaches. Winning a championship while important, probably doesn’t make the top 3 in terms of why a kid goes someplace. The sole exception might be Bama, but even there I think the NFL prep is huge.

        As a sidenote, I’m amazed when watching the starting line up intros how many NFL players went to small schools or places I’ve never heard of.

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      • Tronan

        They do run different offensive systems, but can point to enough alums in the NFL to still attract highly rated recruits. I’ve heard that UGA and Bama tout their pro offensive systems when they recruit players, but college programs that don’t run some version of the spread seem to be in the minority these days.

        I realized I should have added that being at an NFL feeder, whatever system it runs, reasonably close to home is another big factor for kids when they decide where to sign. Sure, some players come from outside the state or region, but the home state or the next state over is going to have a lion’s share of players on most rosters.

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  15. ApalachDawg

    Top tier recruits go where the money is or where mom is going to get the best job (Exhibit A – the Tunsil clan. we got outbid) and secondly or maybe more like 1A, top tier recruits go to the program that will get them to the NFL.

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  16. ApalachDawg

    I wonder if the team that we beat 10-9 from Austin’s message board is the same as our crybaby crapfest with some of our same topics?
    A program with more resources than ours but stuck in the same quicksand as us. Too big and too powerful to get out of our own way.
    Quick comparison:
    Both with recently fired long time coaches that in the declining years of the program brought a country club, lovefest culture to a football program that new regimes are trying to undo. One of those teams was left with Div I-AA talent on the OL. You don’t win anything in the SEC without an OL and a nasty DL – wow that is not a news flash
    They have world class facilities
    We have a killer IPF on the way
    They have pretty boy McConaughey
    We have badass Samuel L. Jackson
    They have a fertile recruiting area
    We have a fertile recruiting area
    They have an live mascot
    We have an live, movie star mascot
    They play their arch rival at a neutral site
    We play our arch rival at a neutral site
    They have an iconic logo
    We have an iconic logo that a NFL team copied
    Hook ’em Horns
    Go Dawgs! Sic ’em! Woof, Woof Woof!
    9-10 Damn it!
    10-9 Suck on that Longhorn bitches!

    Maybe we should invite Texas to join the SEC East so they could wallow with us in our below the below average status.
    Or just revive the weedeater bowl in Shreveport and play there annually to crown the most disappointing team with all the resources in the world…

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  17. Noonan

    Swap Auburn and Bama for Missouri and Kentucky. Rotate both cross-division games every year. Problem solved.

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    • Jeff Sanchez

      Better yet, so away with divisions all together, pick four traditional SEC rivals for each school (Auburn, Tenessee, Florida, South Carolina) and rotate the others every two years.

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      • ApalachDawg

        Truly crack pipe dreaming…

        Four divisions in the SEC:
        1 Texas A&M / LSU / Texas / Missouri
        2 Tennessee / Arkansas / Oklahoma / Kentucky
        3 Georgia / Florida / South Carolina / Vanderbilt
        4 Auburn / Alabama / Ole Miss / Miss State

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        • David K

          A&M / Texas / Oklahoma / Missouri
          LSU / Ole Miss / Miss St / Arkansas
          Auburn / Bama / UT / Vandy
          Georgia / Florida / South Carolina / Kentucky

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      • David K

        I love this

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        • Can we go the other way? Drop USC, Arkansas, A&M, and Missouri.

          Go round robin and ditch the championship game.

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        • ApalachDawg

          Alphabetical Divisions

          Alabama / Arkansas / Auburn / Florida
          Georgia / Kentucky / LSU / Mississippi
          Miss State / Missouri / Oklahoma / South Carolina
          Tennessee / Texas / Texas A&M / Vanderbilt

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  18. Pretty sure it would not matter what Kirby brings in. I have seen enough..

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  19. Truckin

    I say schedule Bama every year. Get better or get your ass handed to you.

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  20. jt (the other one)

    Cultural mindset. In the West it is win, win, win, win…Anyone think that Bama’s AD would have guilted TGIII to admitting taking money?
    Anyone think that Georgia would circle the wagons like the Barn’ or Ole Piss in the face of the NCAA?
    I am not saying cheat…but I am saying…we teams in the East as a whole seem to have a holier than thou mindset…culture. It may be changing at UGA but we shall see.

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  21. CB

    Outside of the South Carolina run under Spurrier the East has largely been trash ever since Urban Meyer left. Even then Florida pretty much carried the torch of the division by themselves. That is one of the main reasons I always viewed Bobo’s success and by default Aaron Murray as mostly fools gold. They were both above average, but the weakness of the east made them look like all time greats.

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