R.I.P. to the Old Guard of the SEC

By Scott Sergent

It was once said everything changes.  Nothing stays the same.  No truer words have ever been spoken after what I saw last Saturday in the SEC.

Of course programs rise and fall, and the eternal cycle of what plays out before us changes every year, every class and every decade.

Two programs in particular have changed a great deal since their salad days when the SEC spilt into divisions and a championship game was played.  To nobody's surprise, those two schools are Florida and Tennessee.

Remember when a trip to The Swamp or Neyland Stadium was a pee in your pants proposition?  When two of the greatest coaches in college football, Steve Spurrier and Philip Fulmer were the kings of their kingdoms?

Players like Danny Wureffel, Peyton  Manning, Errict  Rhett, Jamal Lewis, Rediel Anthony and Al Wilson made these teams both winners and feared by the other teams in the SEC.

Every Saturday, these two ran the conference and the only question in the SEC East was who was going to Atlanta in December?  Georgia and South Carolina were overrated and always flopped in the big games.  Kentucky and Vanderbilt?  Jerry Seinfeld couldn't have offered a funnier joke about their programs since that was what they were.

For the first ten years of the SEC East, it was one of those two representing their division.  Seven times, the Gators or Vols won the SEC.

My, how times have changed.  Then again, in the cycle of college football, you knew it would come one day.  However, that doesn't lessen the shock of what we have seen the last few years.

Could you ever imagine that the Mighty Gators would lose, at home, to an FCS team?  Their fourth string team was better than a lot of FCS teams.  Georgia Southern went to Gainesville and did not complete a pass and still won.  Peyton Manning never did that.

R.I.P. to the old Guard of the SEC
Nov 2, 2013; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier looks on during the fourth quarter against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Williams-Brice Stadium. The Gamecocks defeated the Bulldogs 34-16. Photo courtesy by Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports.

When Spurrier was in Gainesville, his team backed up his mouth and they NEVER lost a game at home when they were favored.  And also many times when they were underdogs.

This is the first losing season for Florida since 1979.  They have lost three straight to Georgia for the first time since 1980-82 when Herschel was running the ball.  They also lost to Vanderbilt at home for the first time since the opening game of their series in 1945.

Speaking of Rocky Top, or Rocky Flop, as is the case because this is the fourth straight losing season in Knoxville, did you ever in your lifetime think the Vols would drop consecutive games to little brother Vanderbilt?  First time that has happened since a military man named Neyland was a Captain, and had not yet become the icon of football in the Smokeys.

When Fulmer was in Knoxville, he won 15 of 16 meetings over Vandy, and in the last 39 years, the Vols have won 34 of the 39 contests.   Vanderbilt has never won the SEC.

This is the fourth losing season for the Vols. That has only been done once in their history, 1903-06.  Going into the 2013 season finale at Kentucky, they have won only three SEC games in the past three years and have not had a winning record in the SEC since 2007.

Tennessee is no longer considered the best team in the state.  Move over Vols, Vandy owns the state now.  General Neyland must be rolling over in his grave today.

If I were to tell you back in, let's say, 1999, that one day you would see Florida so inept, and Tennessee unable to beat anyone in the SEC, you would swear I was hitting the sauce.

Well, after what I have seen lately, it might be time for another drink because I still don't believe it.

Do you?

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From R.I.P. to the Old Guard of the SEC to SEC Football Blog

By Scott Sergents, Copyright © 2006-2014 SECSportsFan.com

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