ATHENS -- Mark Fox has an interesting theory on why the SEC isn't held in very high esteem nationally, and it has nothing to do with RPI rank and bad losses.
"People are gonna pick on the SEC because they don't like us, because we wear them out in football," Fox said Friday. "That's the truth."
Fox was then asked if he was being at all facetious.
"I think the national media," Fox started to say, then said, "We've dominated in football. And every league, our league included, deserves some criticism from time to time for how your league has played. But I think there's probably some truth to that. They're tired of us whoopin' them in football. They call us a football league, but what have we won, four of the last eight basketball championships, something like that? This is a great athletic conference. This is a phenomenal athletic conference. The best athletic conference, I think. So people obviously take some shots at you when you're at the top."
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While there may be some truth to the idea that the SEC gets some backlash, the conference ranks seventh in the RPI, behind the other four power conferences, as well as the Big East and American Athletic Conference.
Florida and Kentucky are the only two SEC teams currently ranked in the top 50 of the RPI. Tennessee is No. 51, while four more conference teams, including Georgia, are in the top 100.
Georgia is one example for SEC critics. The Bulldogs struggled in non-conference play, going 6-6 with losses to Davidson and Georgia Tech. But in SEC play Georgia is 8-5 and alone in third place entering Saturday's game at South Carolina.
"This league's better than people think," Fox said. "We obviously have some black eyes. But I mean every league and every team does. (North) Carolina has some. I think it'll all obviously play out."
Florida and Kentucky are the conference's only shoo-ins for bids, but Fox thinks Tennessee, which just routed Georgia on Tuesday night, is in good shape, too, saying the Volunteers "have a good a resume as everybody."
"I think Tennessee at the end of the day will have a great case," Fox said. "I mean they beat Virginia, they have a great strength of schedule."