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August 26, 2005

SEC of 1990 vs. 2004

Will anyone ever repeat a run like Steve Spurrier's in the SEC from 1990-1996? Before you answer, it's important to look at where the league was then versus now in terms of coaching.

Compare coaches today vs. 1990-1996:
Alabama - Mike Shula vs. Gene Stallings
Arkansas - Houston Nutt vs. Danny Ford/Ken Hatfield
Auburn - Tommy Tuberville vs. Terry Bowden/Pat Dye**
Georgia - Mark Richt vs. Ray Goff
LSU - Les Miles vs. Mike Archer/Gerry Dinardo
South Carolina - Steve Spurrier vs. Sparky Woods/Brad Scott
Tennessee - Fulmer vs. Fulmer/Majors

If you look at the perennial top 6 teams in the SEC (AU, UA, LSU, UT, UF and UGA), you see that all but Bama has upgraded their coaches since 1990-1996. Additionally, a cellar dwellar like South Carolina has upgraded its staff, and Arkansas has also upgraded with Nutt. Even Ole Miss has a stronger today than the early 1990s.

The Gator fans -- and most SEC fans for that matter -- want to achieve a level of dominance that Spurrier obtained. However, it isn't realistic in this era. The SEC is more competitive than ever before. In fact, there have been 6 different SEC Champs in the past 7 years.

1998 - Tennessee
1999 - Alabama
2000 - Florida
2001 - LSU
2002 - Georgia
2003 - LSU
2004 - Auburn

If a coach won the SEC once every 4 years in this era, it would be a towering achievement. Consider that Fulmer has only 2 SEC titles in his 12+ year career. No other current SEC Coach has more than 1 title at his school.

Conclusion -- For anyone to tear through the SEC like Spurrier did in those first 7 years, not only would their program have to hire a Top 5 coach. The rest of the league would have to downgrade their coaching talent across the board to create a power void.

Note: I don't want to deminish the accomplishments of Spurrier's last 5 years. He did win 1 more SEC Championship. And he posted a tremendous record. But his first 7 years was when he was almost unbeatable.

**(Remember, Pat Dye after 1990 was nothing like the Pat Dye of 1981-1989 in terms of results).

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