SEC Madness: The True Elite Eight
With March Madness kicking off this week, most sports fans are sorting through stats and analysis in hopes of winning their NCAA tournament bracket pool. Despite the Cinderella stories and dramatic last second shots that the tournament provides, many of us in the South still have a void left to be filled during March Madness. For me it’s March sadness, because we are still 5 months away from football season. As television pundits were dissecting the brackets, my friends and I were debating who was the best SEC football team to win the National Championship in recent years. With this in mind, I decided to put together a mock bracket pitting the last 8 SEC National Champions against each other in a tournament style format.
In the last fifteen seasons the Southeastern Conference has produced 8 National Champions: 1996 Florida, 1998 Tennessee, 2003 LSU, 2006 Florida, 2007 LSU, 2008 Florida, 2009 Alabama, and 2010 Auburn. These teams are the true elite eight, as everyone knows that the SEC is the finest college football conference in the nation. Now we seek to determine who would become champion of champions if these teams strapped on the shoulder pads against each other in a single elimination tournament. There was a random drawing to determine the first round match-ups. Assume that all match-ups will be played on a neutral field in the Georgia Dome. Here is what the bracket looks like.
In order to determine a winner for each match-up, I will analyze factors such as strength of schedule, win-loss record, statistical analysis, position by position breakdowns, star players, coaching, and NFL draft picks. I will also consider each team’s signature moments, including narrow escapes, statement games, and clutch plays that saved the season.
Remember to have fun with this; it is just a mock tournament. Obviously, not everyone will be happy about the team that is ultimately named hypothetical champion. Sadly, the only way to play these games is on paper, not on the field. With that said, I will do my best to be objective, analyzing numbers and statistics, but at some point subjective opinions will have to determine a champion. I have several other people who are fans of different teams who will be giving input and helping to determine who the winners should be. I would also appreciate your constructive input in the comments below. Feel free to tell me about the moments that made your team great, the narrow escapes, or reasons that you believe a certain team should be the winner. Useful feedback will be considered when determining winners. Please refrain from comments such as “Bama all the way” or “Florida sucks” as these will not do anything to further your argument. Now that the process has been explained, let the madness begin!