SEC Inter-Divisional Play: Overall Records

Part of everyone's preseason previews is looking at teams' schedules, and more often than not in the SEC, the rotating inter-divisional play is a factor in folks' projected standings. Well, that got me thinking recently about how the SEC teams stack up against their opponents from the other divisions.

So, I took a look at all 18 years of inter-divisional play. I'll be posting the interesting bits throughout the week.

OVERALL RECORDS

Here are everyone's inter-divisional records as compared to their overall SEC records. No SEC Championship Games are included in the records; this is just about the regular season.

Team X-Div Record SEC Record Difference
Kentucky .407 .285 .123
Mississippi St. .463 .352 .111
Mississippi .519 .410 .109
Georgia .676 .622 .054
Alabama .657 .635 .041
Auburn .602 .604 -.002
Vanderbilt .148 .153 -.005
South Carolina .361 .385 -.024
Tennessee .657 .712 -.055
Arkansas .370 .458 -.088
LSU .472 .566 -.094
Florida .667 .813 -.146

 

Here's an interesting fact to start off with. Florida has both the second best inter-division record and the best overall SEC record since 1992, and yet the Gators have the largest negative disparity between the two. It's just more proof  of how much Florida has dominated the East division.

Kentucky has done the best in inter-divisional play relative to overall SEC play, interestingly enough. The two Mississippi schools come in next, though their inter-division "rivals" play into that (more on that later). Vanderbilt is predictably the worst in inter-division play, but it strikes me as odd that Arkansas is 11th despite being seventh overall in the SEC standings. LSU has the second largest disparity, and that has a lot to do with the first sentence in this paragraph as you'll see.

 

SINGLE RIVAL ERA RECORDS (2002-09)

It's worth a refresher for the SEC's more recent fans (or any non-SEC fans who might be stopping by) how the SEC's divisional rotation has worked over the years. At first, each team had two permanent inter-divisional games to preserver the conference's numerous rivalries. After nearly a decade, some schools figured out that this arrangement wasn't exactly fair. For instance, Auburn had Florida and Georgia while Alabama got Tennessee and Vanderbilt and (worse at the time) Mississippi State got Kentucky and South Carolina in bad periods for those programs.

So in 2002, the league switched to a single permanent rival per school. That is what we still have today.

Team X-Div Record SEC Record Difference
Kentucky .458 .297 .161
Mississippi .500 .391 .109
Alabama .708 .606 .102
Georgia .792 .701 .090
Mississippi St. .292 .219 .073
Vanderbilt .250 .188 .063
Auburn .625 .646 -.021
LSU .667 .701 -.035
South Carolina .375 .422 -.047
Tennessee .500 .591 -.091
Arkansas .333 .455 -.121
Florida .542 .746 -.204

 

Again, we've got some of the better teams at the bottom of the chart because of relative struggling with the other division compared to overall performance. Florida's gap only widened, Arkansas is still there despite a couple of division titles, and Tennessee clocks in as noticeably worse.

Of course, Alabama's 5-3 record over the Vols is helping, and the Tide ended up with a sterling .702 inter-divisional record in this span. What makes that strange is that Bama dropped Vanderbilt as an annual game and actually got better against the East. Go figure.

Back to LSU, the Tiger's inter-division record improved. That has a lot to do with dropping Kentucky as its permanent rival as the 'Cats have a healthy 6-7 record against LSU somehow. That, along with UK's 8-10 mark against its remaining permanent rival Mississippi State, helps to keep Big Blue at the top of the table. LSU is 2-1 against Kentucky since 2002, but one of those wins was the Bluegrass Miracle. Even in LSU's renaissance, UK still plays the Bayou Bengals closely.

Also, it's worth noting that Georgia takes the inter-divisional crown for this span. It would appear that Mark Richt's problem is coaching an East program rather than a West program. Someone should remind Auburn or Arkansas or someone the next time one of their jobs come open.

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