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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Bush Years

So it's Day 3 of the Obama administration. We're still at war, still in a recession, and he hasn't even helped the Cubs trade for Jake Peavy. What a disappointment.

Of course, before we get too far into the "Obama years" I got to thinking about the last eight years in the SEC. Coincidentally, George W. Bush came on board the same time as Mark Richt, and for Georgia fans, it's been a pretty impressive eight-year run.

Check out the SEC standings during the Bush administration (2001-2008)...

Loss Win% CW
Georgia 82 22 .788 48 19 .716
6 2 .750
LSU 82 23 .781 48 20 .706 6 2 .750
Florida 77 26 .748 48 19 .716 4 4 .500
Auburn 71 30 .703 44 21 .677 5 2 .714
Tenn. 68 34 .667 42 25 .627 3 3 .500
Bama 62 40 .608 35 30 .538 3 3 .500
Ark. 57 43 .570 31 34 .477 1 4 .200
S. Car. 53 44 .546 29 35 .453 3 1 .750
Ole Miss
47 49 .490 25 39 .390 3 0 1.000
Kent. 41 55 .427 17 47 .266 3 0 1.000
Miss. St.
29 65 .309 13 51 .203 1 0 1.000
65 .309 12 52 .188 1 0 1.000

* CW/CL = Conference wins/losses. BW/BL = Bowl wins/losses. NOTE: SEC W-L records include SEC championship game appearances.

So, what can we take from this?

Well, for one, Georgia has been remarkably good during the Mark Richt era. Good and consistent. The Bulldogs have the best overall winning percentage and tied for the best SEC winning percentage during the span, playing in a bowl all eight years and winning six of them. For anyone who has criticized Richt during the past year, take a second look at those numbers. That's astounding.

Of course, the critics will rightfully point to the fact that Georgia's primary competition for the top spot among SEC teams during the Bush years -- LSU and Florida -- each have two national championships, while Georgia has none. And there's the rub. Georgia hasn't lost many games, but the ones they have were awfully costly.

Still, it says something to have won that many games and been that consistent in the toughest conference in America for so long. The truth is, a few breaks in one direction or another, and a national title could have ended up in Athens. LSU won it's title with two losses. Auburn, on the other hand, had the only undefeated season during this span and didn't win one. That's the breaks of the BCS system. It shouldn't undermine what Georgia has accomplished in the past eight seasons though.

A few other interesting nuggets from these numbers:

-- Yes, the top end of the conference is good. But check out the bowl records of the SEC's bottom five teams: 11-1 during the Bush years. While Florida, LSU and Georgia are the flagships for the SEC, the true measure of how good this conference is shows up in how competitive even the cellar dwellars are.

-- If you look closely at the bowl and conference losses compared to the overall records for Georgia and LSU, you'll notice something interesting: Both teams have lost just one non-conference regular-season game in the past eight seasons.

For LSU, the loss came on opening week of 2002 in a blowout to Virginia Tech.

For Georgia, the fateful game against Tech in November.

Both teams are 28-1 during that span against non-conference teams in the regular season.

That says a lot, particularly when you consider that these teams haven't exactly scheduled the cakewalk non-conference slates that the Big XII regularly blows through. Georgia's task won't get any easier in Year 1 under Obama, with both Oklahoma State and Arizona State on the schedule along with Georgia Tech.

-- The SEC's overall bowl record is 39-21 during the last eight years, for a winning percentage of .650. I'm not taking the time to figure out the records for every other conference, but I'd wager that's the best by a pretty wide margin. Of course, if any of you feel like doing the math on that, be my guest.


Anonymous said...

Great post. It's interesting how everything has to pretty much fall perfectly into place to play for a national championship. I know that Coach Richt will get us there. I just hope that people are patient enough to give him the chance.

Anonymous said...

Great info, but South Carolina is 2-2 in bowls since 2001 season.
'01 season - Outback W; '05 Independence L; '06 Liberty W; '08 season - Outback L.
Still great results from out bottom half, though!