Everybody is well aware that the SEC is a dominant power in college football. But what many people may not realize is that the SEC is also pretty good at college baseball. There are plenty of passionate fans, great venues, legendary coaches, and most importantly, lots of teams that win lots of games.
The SEC really became the football power it is today starting in 2006-2007 football season when Florida won the National Championship. Since then, the SEC has won seven more of them. During that same time period, they have either the most or the second most number of teams appearing in the NCAA Baseball Tournament, sending at least seven teams each time. Not only does the SEC send plenty of teams, it hosts a number of the Regionals and Super Regionals and the crowds are always fantastic. For example, there are currently five SEC schools playing host to the Super Regionals: Florida, LSU, Texas A&M, Mississippi State and South Carolina. Within the Super Regionals there are two other SEC schools that hosted Regionals: Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.
But the SEC isn’t just good at hosting events and sending teams to the Tournament. The SEC is also good at getting results. Since 2007, the SEC has sent 21 teams from the Super Regionals to the College World Series in Omaha, NE. They’ve won it four times: LSU in 2009, South Carolina in 2010 and 2011, and Vanderbilt in 2014. They’ve also been the runner-up five times: Georgia in 2008, Florida in 2011, South Carolina in 2012, Mississippi State in 2013 and Vanderbilt in 2015. In fact, an SEC team has been in the championship every year since 2008. That’s an active streak of eight straight years with a team in the championship. Not even the SEC’s football programs have that going right now. In those years there has been plenty of drama and intrigue including Georgia being massively upset by Fresno State in 2008, an all-SEC championship matchup in 2011 and Vanderbilt meeting Virginia for the championship in consecutive years (2014 and 2015).
So while the SEC obviously loves its football, it loves its baseball too. Not only does SEC baseball entertain, it brings home lots of hardware. Fans could even have a very strong case for saying that baseball is the second best sport in the conference, as basketball only has one torch-bearing school that really takes it very seriously (obviously Kentucky). It may fly under the radar nationally, but SEC baseball is just as dominant as SEC football.
Note: Thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends and teammates of former Vanderbilt pitcher Donny Everett who died in a drowning accident and was laid to rest on Tuesday.