With seven consecutive football national championships for the Southeastern Conference, a question breaches the surface of thought: In what order do the current SEC football teams rank historically?
Alabama fans say their current 15 national championships hold thrust to an immense advantage over their SEC colleagues. Do national championships truly constitute a particular institution's football program ranks head over heels above another? National championships have a great impact in a discussion of this nature. Let’s get real; sanctioned national championships are the ones that should count in a proposition of this magnitude. Minnesota should have a claim to fame as "the granddaddy of them all" by establishing the first officially NCAA recognized national championship in 1936.
Since 1936, here are the number of recognized national championships by each SEC school: Alabama (9); Florida, LSU (3); Auburn, Georgia, and Tennessee (2).
In a formula to try and calculate who may be superior amongst the SEC counterparts throughout history, conference championships and Heisman Trophy winners are essential for a rational case. Granted, Arkansas has won 13 Southwestern Conference championships and the 1964 national championship. The Razorbacks have yet to relish a national championship as a member of the SEC, not to mention ever winning the Southeastern Conference.
South Carolina, which joined the SEC with Arkansas in 1992, also has yet to relish victory in the SEC championship game. The Gamecocks do hold credit for a 1969 ACC championship and a 1980 Heisman Trophy winner in George Rogers. After Johnny Football claimed the 2012 Heisman Trophy in Texas A&M's first year in the SEC, the current SEC Heisman list (won while playing for a current SEC school) portray as follows: Auburn, Florida (3); Georgia (2); and Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M (1).
The third component to determine who ranks atop the SEC since the conference was established in 1932 are divisional championships. Since 1992, the SEC East winner has played the SEC West winner to determine the SEC's best for that particular season. The current divisional winners since 1992 stand as follows: Florida (10); Alabama (8); Georgia, LSU, Tennessee (5); Auburn (4); Arkansas (3); Mississippi State and South Carolina (1).
The fourth and final component is what all current 14 SEC institutions set out for every August: to win the SEC championship. Since the SEC was established in 1932, the current SEC football championships by each school are as follows: Alabama (23); Tennessee (13); Georgia (12); LSU (11); Florida (8) ; Auburn (7); Ole Miss (6); Kentucky (2); and Mississippi State (1).
Adding all of these components generates a comprehensive winning formula to determine who really should be labeled "the best SEC football program" as a SEC football member through the years. Coaches reference a formula of winning the division first, winning the game in Atlanta, then winning the national championship, and sometimes the Heisman comes along the way.
Here are the combined calculations: Alabama (40); Florida (22); Georgia (21), Tennessee (20); LSU (19); Auburn (16); Arkansas (3); Kentucky, Mississippi State (2); and Texas A&M, South Carolina (1).
As most SEC members and fans view the sport, individual awards are not as important as divisional, conference, and national championships. If you take the Heisman Trophy factor out of the equation, the "quote, unquote" best SEC program ever stacks up like this: Alabama (39); Tennessee (20); Florida, Georgia (19); LSU (18); Auburn (13); Arkansas (3); Kentucky, Mississippi State (2); and South Carolina (1). These calculations and traditions makes one wonder: Does a Heisman Trophy really distinguish a program?
This SEC historic formula seems to suggest that Alabama is the premier team in the conference either way.