When I think about the SEC, the first thing that comes to mind is the conferences dominance in football. And why not? Since 1990, the SECs teams have collected 11 national championships.
Alabama has four, winning the title in 1992, 2009, 2011 and 2012. Florida claims three: 1996, 2006 and 2008. LSU has two, with those coming in 2003 and 2007, and Tennessee and Auburn won in 1998 and 2010, respectively. The Big Eight won three titles between 1990 and its inclusion in the Big 12, which won three more titles since it came into existence in 1996. The Pac-12 and the ACC also won three each. Those figures include the 1990 national championship, which was shared by Georgia Tech and Colorado, which was in the Big Eight at the time.
But while football is king in the SEC, the conference has enjoyed success in the mens marquee sports of basketball and baseball, as well, since 1990. The conference is sometimes maligned in basketball, but it is second only to the ACC in the number of national crowns during the past two-plus decades on the hardwood. The ACC has eight, with Duke claiming four, North Carolina three and Maryland one. The SEC has six, with Kentucky winning three, Florida two and Arkansas one.
In baseball, the SEC had never won a national title until Georgia did it in 1990, and, since that first championship, the conference has taken home the gold eight more times. LSU gets credit for six, winning in 1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000 and 2009. South Carolina won back-to-back in 2010 and 2011. The Pac-12 has four national crowns during the same period of time, while the Big 12 has three.
Between the first College World Series played in 1947 and Georgias win in 1990, the Pac-8/Pac-10 (now the Pac-12) owned the event, winning it 23 times, with Southern Cal claiming 11 titles, including five in a row between 1970 and 1974.
Folks in the SEC love their baseball. The conference boasts the top five programs and nine of the top 20 in the nation in attendance, with LSU leading the way, averaging 10,855 paid spectators per game. This is more than all teams in the Triple-A International League, including the Gwinnett Braves, averaged in 2012.
The SEC is in great position to add to its total when the College World Series opens Saturday in Omaha, Neb. Omaha has been the site for the College World Series since 1949, although the first two were played in Kalamazoo, Mich., with the third in Wichita, Kan.
LSU, with a record of 57-9, is one of this years favorites.
Since the SEC expanded to 12 teams with the addition of South Carolina and Arkansas in 1990, the conference has won a total of 80 national championships in mens sports and 68 in womens sports. LSU is the overall conference leader at 32, with 11 of those coming in womens outdoor track and field and nine in womens indoor track and field.
Arkansas is second at 29, with mens indoor track and field accounting for 11 and mens cross country seven. Georgia has 25 national crowns since 1990, with eight in womens gymnastics.
In the big three sports of football, mens basketball and baseball, the SEC has won a total of 26 national championships since 1990, compared to 10 for the Pac-12, although the Pac-12 easily outdistances the SEC in all sports with 205 titles to its credit as opposed to 148 for the SEC. It should be noted that mens and womens water polo account for 33 of the Pac-12 titles, while 22 have come in mens and womens volleyball, 11 more in skiing and six in rowing. The SEC does not have water polo, mens volleyball, skiing or rowing as championships.
There is no question the SEC is the best conference for college football, and it more than hold its own in other sports, as well.
Bobby Pope is the executive director of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.