No championships, but some good performances in major men’s sports
If you missed it, this was my blog about LSU sports in particular over the 2014-15 academic year.
This section will discuss the SEC’s performance in the four traditional major men’s sports, which are football, basketball, outdoor track, and baseball in 2014-15. I made a chart dating back to the 2006-07 academic year when I wrote this blog on the same topic last year. Below is just a small version of the chart containing only this (academic) year’s results.
|SPORT||Title||Runner-Up||Semi #1*||Semi #2|
|FOOTBALL||Ohio St.||Oregon||Alabama||Florida St.|
*- For track, this is simply the #3 team. For baseball, it is the last team eliminated before the championship series. For basketball and football, it is the higher-seeded of the two semifinal losers.
I’ll start with the bad news for SEC fans and the good news for people who don’t like the SEC. This is the first academic year since 1987-88 in which the SEC did not win a championship (just assume when I say this in this section I’m talking about the major men’s sports).
When LSU won the 1989 men’s outdoor track championship to begin the streak, that was actually the first major championship for the SEC since Georgia had won in football after the 1980 season.
That had been the SEC’s first men’s outdoor title since 1974 (Tennessee). The SEC did not win in baseball for the first time until 1990 (Georgia) but has been the clear leader among conferences since then. This also overlapped with droughts in basketball from 1978 (Kentucky) to 1994 (Arkansas) and in football from 1980 to 1992 (Alabama).
Arkansas and South Carolina football did not join the SEC until the 1992-93 year, but the winter and spring sports began SEC competition in the previous academic year. This was just in time for Arkansas to win its first of 8 consecutive track championships, and it saved the SEC from going 0/4 in the 1991-92 academic year.
There was also a two-week period in June of 2000 where the SEC was not the reigning champion of any of the four sports, but then LSU won the baseball title (by a run over Stanford) that year.
This year, the SEC had what was expected to be the superior team that went into both the College World Series and the Final Four but just couldn’t get it done. Of course, Kentucky had its only basketball loss the season in that semifinal game. In baseball, LSU only won a single game in the CWS, but both Vanderbilt and Florida made the semifinals.
Baseball was a bit of bad luck as well. I’m not saying Virginia didn’t deserve it, but in the formats of past years, Virginia would have been out with its second loss (which took place in the first game of the championship series). Until 2003, it was impossible to lose twice in the CWS without being eliminated. The Cavaliers had lost to Florida before the championship series began. So although the SEC didn’t win the CWS, they did get two wins against the champion. Also, had the Gators won their second game against the ’Hoos (which they lost by one run), there would have been an all-SEC final.
Still, having one of the top four football teams, one of the top four basketball teams, two of the top four baseball teams, and three of the top four track teams isn’t a bad year even without a championship. That would most probably be the best if there were three major conferences, and there are five.
Also, there were two other top-8 baseball teams (LSU and Arkansas), and two other top-8 track teams (Texas A&M and Mississippi St.). Football had two additional teams (Georgia and Missouri) finish in the top 14 of the final AP poll. Basketball didn’t have any other teams of note with only two wins (one of them a “first four” game) in the whole tournament not by Kentucky.
Successful year in other sports
The SEC did have some success worth commenting on in other sports.
The LSU men won in golf for their first championship in the sport since 1955, but Alabama had won the previous two titles. In total, the SEC has won four titles since the “stroke and match play” format was introduced in 2009.
In women’s basketball, South Carolina lost in the Final Four, and Tennessee reached the Elite Eight. South Carolina was the first SEC team to make the Final Four since 2008, which was the last time Tennessee won. At least one SEC team had made it every year from 2002 to 2008, when both LSU and Tennessee were regular participants.
In softball, the SEC did extremely well. Eleven teams made the tournament, eight made the super regionals, and five made the Women’s CWS. Florida won in the championship over Michigan, but the SEC had two other semifinalists (Auburn and LSU). Three of the last four softball championships have been won by SEC teams (Florida also won last year, and Alabama won in 2012).
As in men’s outdoor track, Oregon beat out several SEC schools for #1 in women’s outdoor track. SEC teams finished second (Kentucky), third (Texas A&M), fourth (Arkansas), fifth (Georgia), and eighth (Florida). SEC teams had won in 2012 and 2014 (Texas A&M), although LSU’s 2012 title was revoked.