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What to Make of the SEC's Poor Bowl Season

It hasn't been pretty.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

I always have and always will say that bowl season is not the time to make lasting judgments for anything, but outside the bounds of this site, the SEC's relatively poor performance this postseason has caused the league's reputation to take a hit. I will note that two more teams have games to go as I write this, but no one is staking the conference's standing on Tennessee and Florida right now.

The fact of the matter is, the conference's national championship streak was always going to come to an end. It couldn't go on forever, and it ended last year. The streak of putting a team in the national championship game was always going to end. It couldn't go on forever, and so it has ended this year.

Beyond the inevitability of those streak ending, though, nearly every team in the conference ended up having issues:

  • Alabama: iffy secondary, RUN THE DANG BALL LANE
  • Arkansas: still digging out of a deep hole
  • Auburn: transition-related down year, had a DC who ended up fired
  • Florida: had a head coach who ended up fired
  • Georgia: Mason ain't Murray, and still has a couple of inexplicable performances per year
  • Kentucky: see Arkansas
  • LSU: got caught without a quarterback (again) without enough other offensive talent/experience to compensate
  • Ole Miss: never recovered after injuries sapped the team's momentum; was a year early anyway
  • Mississippi State: best season in forever, so no complaints (other than defensive preparation for GT)
  • Missouri: exceeded all expectations, so no complaints (except Mauk's turnovers)
  • South Carolina: finally ran out of elite players that South Carolina doesn't usually get
  • Tennessee: rebuilding, and also turned over entirety of both lines
  • Texas A&M: see Auburn
  • Vanderbilt: lost best coach in school history and made bad coordinator hires (both have been fired)

Really, most of the league wasn't any worse than it's been in some past years. From top to bottom, it's well above where it was in 2009, the middle year of the national title streak. Alabama and Florida stood well above everyone else; in F/+, the next team after the Tide and Gators was No. 19 in the ratings. UF clinched the East before October was even over, for goodness sake. Having two teams right at the top managed to cover over the stink from the rest.

Well, not having a team win the national title (along with a few really bad bowl results) means the a better SEC will come out of 2014 looking worse than it did coming out of 2009. Measuring things with titles first is the narrative that SEC partisans locked in over the past decade, so it will cut both ways. That's the way it goes.

The only advice I can offer is to just relax and not stress. There's nothing you can do to change things or keep people from saying things you don't like to hear, so let it go.

For another, the league isn't in bad shape. Auburn could be a real terror with Will Muschamp working with Gus Malzahn. John Chavis is the elite DC that Kevin Sumlin has never had, and the two of them have a high ceiling too. Alabama's secondary won't be this flammable for long, and it was one of the nation's clear three best teams with that suspect pass coverage anyway. LSU is a QB away from back-to-back top 10 finishes if it can hire a good DC to replace Chavis. Georgia is in great shape and will be in even better shape if it can find more consistency. Tennessee is headed in the right direction after finally getting a steady hand in Butch Jones. Florida is only a couple of recruiting classes away from coming back if Jim McElwain pans out.

As I said, it's not like 2014 was a disaster, anyway. The SEC is going to have some rough postseasons from time to time; the real achievement is that it's been a good long while since the conference had one this bad. The long term trend is still great, and the future looks fine. Pick your poison between Oregon and Ohio State and just chill until next fall.