SEC Pride: What do fans have to brag about after week 7?
SEC fans are a prideful bunch. From historically great programs to wonderful fan traditions to the conference’s recent dominance over the college football landscape, there’s plenty to chant “S-E-C!” about. Here’s a look at five things the conference’s fans can point to after week 6 of the regular season.
1. A new No. 1. For the first time in school history, Mississippi State has risen to the top of both the coaches and AP polls. They do so after knocking off three straight top-10 opponents, with former No. 2 Auburn being the third victim on that list. That resume was impressive enough to voters to move the Bulldogs ahead of reigning national champion Florida State. With a bye coming up this weekend, Mississippi State will likely hold their slot until at least next week.
2. Record crowd at Kyle Field. Not only has Texas A&M brought an exciting program and brand of football to the SEC, they’ve also imported one of the most incredible fan bases into the league. Against Ole Miss on Saturday, the Aggies faithful set an SEC record with 110,633. On top of that, it set a Texas state record, not bad when you consider the monstrosity of a stadium the Dallas Cowboys play in.
3. Rising coaching stars. A few years ago, Dan Mullen and Hugh Freeze were nobodies. Freeze was a high school coach a decade ago, while Mullen was an offensive assistant attached to Urban Meyer. Now, they’re the two hottest names in the coaching world. It won’t be a surprise if some of the traditional powers sure to have coaching vacancies go after them this off-season, and their current homes would be wise to re-up them.
4. Extreme parity. Well, at least in the West. The conference’s stronger division proved Saturday that anyone can put up a fight. Ole Miss won in a hostile environment, Arkansas came within a missed opportunity here and there (and some botched clock management by the referees) of knocking off the Crimson Tide. Through seven weeks, the only losses for SEC West teams have come at the hands of their divisional rivals.
5. It’s more than a job. The way Mullen and Arkansas’ Bret Bielema reacted after their disparate results shows you that the coaches in the SEC care about more than just collecting their paychecks. Mullen looked euphoric on the field after Mississippi State’s biggest win ever, carrying around his daughter and smiling ear to ear. In Bielema’s post-game press conference, you could hear his heartbreak coming through loud and clear. In an era where coaches and schools don’t seem to have much loyalty to each other around the country, it’s refreshing to see that kind of passion.