It's always tricky to try to compare teams over long stretches of time; even over a decade, there are more arguments to dissect and consider than many would imagine.
One team could have an almost unbelievable season -- such as Auburn's undefeated campaign in 2004 -- but have other years that make it hard to take seriously. Others enjoy consistent success but never quite achieve the great prize that sets them apart from the others -- see Georgia.
It is a hard choice to make, but one could argue that the best two programs over the course of the 2000s were the Florida Gators and the LSU Tigers. And, if one of them has to get it, it has to be the program based in Gainesville.
|12/15: What a Decade It's Been; Mike Price's Trip to Pensacola|
|12/16: The Zook Experiment; Georgia Hires Mark Richt|
|12/17: Best Game; Auburn's Rise and Fall; Rivalry of the Decade|
|12/18: Worst Game; The Rise of the Nicktator; The Promise|
|12/21: Exit Phil Fulmer; Best Player|
|12/22: Best Team; Worst Program|
|EARLIER TODAY: Houston Nutt's Denouement at Arkansas; Worst Team|
Consider first that Florida is one of three SEC programs -- LSU and Georgia being the others -- that has not had a losing season in the course of the decade. It has two national titles, three SEC Championships and four division crowns -- distinctions it shares only with LSU.
Florida does have a slight advantage against LSU in one key area: conference record. When championship games are included, the Gators are 64-20, a six-game lead over the Bayou Bengals, who are 58-26. When you're splitting hairs, sometimes you have to go with some that are pretty fine. Florida also is one of only two programs -- Georgia is the other -- to have not had a single sub-.500 record in the SEC in any of the decade's 10 years.
Florida's best year (2008) was also slightly better than the counterpart for LSU (2003). The Gators of last season annihilated all but one team; LSU had a couple of close calls and didn't defeat its opponents quite as soundly week in and week out as did Florida. Oh, and you might have heard that some player for Florida won a Heisman Trophy in 2007.
Add to all that the fact that Florida won a dozen or more games three times -- more than any other SEC team -- and it's a pretty compelling case.
Sure, there was a less than exceptional era in the early part of the decade, when Ron Zook was running the show in Gainesville. But it's not like 23-15 is the kind of record that most programs would consider a disaster the way Florida fans did.
With the turmoil surrounding the program right now, it's not at all clear that Florida is in the best shape as we end this decade. But this is about the past and not the future. And over the last 10 years, Florida's fortunes have looked very bright.