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October 1, 2018

So, the SEC East is...Good?

There is a running narrative about the SEC East: It is trash. Honestly, the crossover record versus the SEC West is embarrassing. In the past nine seasons, the SEC West has a 103-44 record vs the SEC East and won all but one SEC Championship Game. The 2017 Bowl Season didn't do anything to change the perception either. Narrative dictates that an SEC East team lost to an SEC West team, so that is reason [FILL IN THE BLANK] why the East Is Trash.

There are plenty of reasons for the long term narrative. Tennessee's rotating cast of Coaches with Great Slogans. Florida's inability to find a coach that can find talent on more than one side of the ball. Missouri deciding they miss the Big Twelve's defensive style. Steve Spurrier retiring a full season before he bothered to tell anyone. James Franklin leaving Vandy. Georgia's offensive coordinator hiring practices. Kentucky.

Frankly, The Narrative is in the periphery of why a coaching change was made at Georgia in 2015. It was not hard to see that the SEC East landscape had changed, that Georgia had not taken advantage of their two biggest rivals for the top tier of the SEC East being in various states of dumpster firedom, and in failing to do so, shrugged at the open door leading to the top of the SEC East. The chicken and egg part of that argument is the SEC East was considered down because Georgia did not walk through that door (See 2013 and 2014 SEC East Division Champion Missouri Tigers for a deeper treatment).

Now, we are facing a crazy start to 2018. Mississippi State has already gone 0-2 vs the SEC East. In Bill Connelly’s S&P+ and ESPN’s FPI, the SEC has ten teams ranked in the top 30, evenly split between the SEC’s two divisions. Also, Kentucky getting significantly better on defense while having a star playing is paying off for the division.

What does all this mean? In the next two weeks, we will have a much bigger sample size, as LSU faces Florida and Georgia, Texas A&M faces Kentucky and South Carolina, and Missouri faces Alabama. The SEC East can flip The Narrative on it’s head, probably.

The bigger picture is how much fun it is to see Kentucky doing well and the corollary pop the SEC East is getting due to that improvement. Missouri and Kentucky are both solid teams, albeit for different reasons. Florida looks better than predicted. South Carolina still has the pieces to be a bowl team.

Then there is Georgia. Getting back to the 2017 season, the same game that works against the SEC East also has saddled Georgia with being the mantle bearer of the SEC East. A slip up against LSU on CBS as a second ranked team, we get a new lease on the SEC East is trash story. That is how narratives work.

Narrative is what drives this conversation in the first place. There are at least one and a half cable networks, with dozens of hours of time to fill each, devoted to the SEC Football Machine. You cannot do that without stuff to talk about. For that matter, you cannot very well do a podcast twice a week without it either.


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