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College Football: The History of SEC Realignment


College football expansion has taken over the hearts and minds of college football junkies everywhere.

The sky is falling, rivalries are dead and the future of college football is in great peril. I am here to tell you that this just simply isn’t the case. Conference realignment has been taking place for more than a century and it won’t stop anytime soon. Teams have been switching leagues, conferences have been created out of thin air and college football has powered through all the criticism and into the playoff era.

So just in case you don’t remember the days of Georgia Tech winning SEC titles or Grinnell College's 10-year stint in the Big 8, Athlon is here to show you conference realignment isn’t a new phenomenon.

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The History of Big East Conference Realignment
The History of SEC Realingment
The History of Big 12 Realignment

The SEC Commissioners:

Martin S. Conner, 1940-46
N.W. Dougherty (acting), 1947-48
Bernie Moore, 1948-66
A.M. “Tonto” Coleman, 1966-72
H. Boyd McWhorter, 1972-86
Harvey W. Schiller, 1986-89
Mark Womack (acting), 1988-89
Roy F. Kramer, 1990-2002
Mike Slive, 2002-Present

The SEC Timeline:

December 8, 1932: Thirteen universities located in and around the Southeastern United States decided to break from the Southern Conference to create the Southeastern Conference. At the time, the SoCon was a 23-team massive conglomerate that included major football powers like North Carolina, Clemson, Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and NC State as well as the founding members of the SEC. The thirteen founding members of the SEC were Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Sewanee, Tennessee, Tulane, and Vanderbilt.

1940: The University of the South, otherwise known as Sewanee, lost all 37 SEC games it played and the Tigers were shutout in 26 of those contests. Its overall SEC point differential was 1,163 to 84 in eight years of football. Interestingly enough, Sewanee will also change conferences this month when it leaves the D-III Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference to form the new D-III Southern Athletic Association.

1964:Georgia Tech departs from the SEC to become a founding member of the Metro Conference, a league that eventually became part of the modern Conference USA. In 1978, Tech became a founding member of the ACC. While in the SEC, the Yellow Jackets won five SEC championships (1939, 1943, 1944, 1951, 1952) and the 1952 National Championship. Tech has two more SEC titles than Kentucky, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Arkansas and South Carolina combined. Its next conference title wouldn’t come until 1990.

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1966: Tulane decides to leave the SEC to become a member of the Metro Conference along with Georgia Tech. While the Yellow Jackets bounced for the greener pastures of the ACC when it was founded in the late '70s, the Green Wave eventually became a founding member of C-USA when the Metro and Great Midwest Conference merged in 1995. Tulane, too, has as many SEC titles (3) as Kentucky, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Arkansas and South Carolina combined.

1991: In an unprecedented move by conference commissioner Roy Kramer and the SEC, a football conference for the first time ever would play a conference championship game pitting the winner of two divisions in a neutral site showdown for supremacy. This, of course, came along with the addition of Arkansas and South Carolina to the league. Both the Razorbacks and Gamecocks instantly became the furthest outliers in the league. Geographically, Arkansas was the westernmost campus while Columbia was the easternmost. The Hogs have played in three SEC title games, losing by a combined score of 102-34. South Carolina took 19 years before it made it to its first SEC title game and it lost 56-17 to the eventual national champion Auburn Tigers in 2010.

1992: The first SEC title game occured following the 1992 season, when No. 2 Alabama defeated Florida and earned a trip to the Sugar Bowl to face an undefeated No. 1 Miami Hurricanes squad. The Crimson Tide crushed the heavily favored Canes, debunking the theory that the SEC would struggle to compete for national titles in its post-expansion two-division era.

2012: After a period of astronomical growth, and on the heels of Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC expansion, Mike Slive carefully selected Texas A&M and Missouri to expand the SEC further into the Heartland. As of July 1, 2012, both institutions are fully functioning officially members of the SEC. Both combined for one Big 12 championship in the 16-year history of the league (Texas A&M, 1998)

SEC BCS Bowl History

Notes: Year is representative of the fall football season, not the actual date of the bowl
(#) = final national BCS ranking

1998 Fiesta (National Championship): (1) Tennessee 23, (2) Florida State 16
1998 Orange: (8) Florida 31, (15) Syracuse 10
1999 Fiesta: (3) Nebraska 31, (5) Tennessee 21
1999 Orange: (8) Michigan 35, (4) Alabama 34
2000 Sugar: (3) Miami 37, (7) Florida 20
2001 Sugar: (13) LSU 47, (8) Illinois 34
2001 Orange: (5) Florida 56, (10) Maryland 23
2002 Sugar: (3) Georgia 26, (14) Florida State 13
2003 Sugar (National Championship): (2) LSU 21, (1) Oklahoma 14
2004 Sugar: (3) Auburn 16, (8) Virginia Tech 13
2005 Sugar: (11) West Virginia 28, (7) Georgia 35
2006 Sugar: (4) LSU 41, (11) Notre Dame 14
2006 NCG: (2) Florida 41, (1) Ohio State 14
2007 Sugar: (5) Georgia 41, (10) Hawaii 10
2007 NCG: (2) LSU 38, (1) Ohio State 24
2008 Sugar: (6) Utah 31, (4) Alabama 17
2008 NCG: (2) Florida 24, (1) Oklahoma 14
2009 Sugar: (5) Florida 51, (3) Cincinnati 24
2009 NCG: (1) Alabama 37, (2) Texas 21
2010 Sugar: (6) Ohio State 31, (8) Arkansas 26
2010 NCG: (1) Auburn 22, (2) Oregon 19
2011 NCG: (2) Alabama 21, (1) LSU 0

Overall Record: 16-7
National Championships: 8-1

The History of the SEC:

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-by Braden Gall

Follow @bradengall

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