Already Getting Ready For Next Season
The 2012-13 Southeastern Conference athletic season is coming to a close, but thoughts are already turning to 2013-14 in many areas.
Witness the big attendance numbers for many of the conference's spring football games. Texas A&M drew over 45,000 fans to its spring game, as did Georgia. South Carolina packed in 35,218 fans to witness its spring contest, and Ole Miss and Florida State came in at 28,000 and 27,500 fans, respectively.
Kentucky, a school more known for its men's and women's college basketball, has its base fired up thanks to new coach Mark Stoops. A total of 50,831 showed up in Lexington to witness the Wildcats' Big Blue contest. Who said Kentucky was a state solely dedicated to hoops and hardwood?
It appears Kentucky's fan base has been revitalized. The Wildcats' transition from Rich Brooks to Joker Phillips turned out to be ill-advised. It was Brooks that guided Kentucky from a few years of sub-.500 records to three straight bowl victories, two in the Music City and one in the Liberty. When Phillips' took over, the Wildcats dropped to 6-7 in 2010, 5-7 in 2011 and 2-10 in 2-12, prompting athletic director Mitch Barnhart to step in and make a coaching change.
It looks like the change has paid off with increased emphasis on the football program, which is part of the nation's top conference. It isn't every conference that has a spring game with close to 80,000 in attendance, which is what Tuscaloosa will expect when Alabama has its annual spring game. There is no doubt SEC football rules the country in terms of attendance and success.
Just because a team isn't involved with football or basketball does not mean its fan following is miniscule. Baseball, softball and volleyball always carry some weight in SEC circles, thanks to Florida and Kentucky's volleyball teams, Vanderbilt and Florida in baseball and several top softball programs like Florida, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee and LSU. It could be argued the SEC is the top Division I conference in the nation when it comes to softball.
Of course, when it comes to showing off your love for all things SEC, nothing shows off your feelings more than wearing it on your sleeve. It is not uncommon for someone to use creative customized t-shirt printing to show off their feelings for Georgia football, Kentucky basketball, Vanderbilt baseball, or other teams that have a broad fan base.
Once you have your custom clothing made, then it is time to think about attending your favorite games. Tickets for some of the big teams like Alabama football, Texas A&M football and Florida basketball may be hard to come by, if they are not sold out already. It all depends on how lucky you are at snagging a great ticket deal so you can spend a weekend on the road rooting on your favorite team.
We are approaching the end of a school year, but it is not too late to enjoy the teams going for success in spring sports. That period from the middle of June to the beginning of August is one where you can catch your breath and prepare for the next season ahead.
SEC sports may be a great deal of things to college athletics fans, and boring is not one of them.
Buy your tickets, wear your gear proud and get ready for the coming year. It promises to be an exciting one, as always!