Plenty of parity in the SEC East


Despite only being a sophomore, UK running back Raymond Sanders, seen here carrying the ball against Akron last season, has taken on a leadership role at the position. Photo by Britney McIntosh

History might not repeat itself in the Southeastern Conference East division this year.

Since 1992, the year the SEC started playing a conference championship game, only three of the six teams from the SEC East (Tennessee, Florida and Georgia) have represented the East in the title game.

However, just past the midway point of the season, the SEC East is wide open, with first-place South Carolina (4-2, 2-2 SEC) sitting two-and-a-half games ahead of last-place Tennessee (2-4, 0-3 SEC) in the standings. UK, left for dead after losing its first three conference games, still has a shot at a division crown after upsetting South Carolina last Saturday.

“Knowing that the East is wide open gives you more confidence to know that you can go out there and win,” UK junior cornerback Anthony Mosley said. “Everybody has a loss, everybody has multiple losses as a matter of fact, so if we just handle business the rest of the season, we can see ourselves at the top of the SEC East.”

Traditional powerhouse programs Florida, a 10-time SEC East champion, and Georgia, UK’s opponent this Saturday, are the two teams with the most losses in the entire SEC, with three apiece.

For Georgia (3-4, 2-3 SEC), this season marks a stark departure from the Dawgs’ expectations for success during the decade-long tenure of head coach Mark Richt, who is the longest-serving active coach in the SEC. He has compiled a 93-31 record at Georgia.

“Last year people said (Georgia) had a down year, and they could say the same for this year, but they’re still a SEC team so anything can happen,” said junior cornerback Randall Burden, who is one of six current Cats to have played for LaGrange (Ga.) High School, located approximately 130 miles from the Georgia campus in Athens, Ga.

Freshman tailback Raymond Sanders, also a Georgia native, said that after growing up in Bulldog country he “definitely has a lot of respect for them,” adding that no team in the SEC East can be considered to be having a subpar year as long as every team is in the hunt.

Saturday’s matchup will have major implications on the division race, but it won’t resolve the muddled picture completely.

“Because we battle each other, it’s always going to go down to the wire who wins it,” UK head coach Joker Phillips said. “It’s going to be two or three teams (usually), it just happens to be now at this time in the season it’s probably all six of us have a chance. Usually there will always be parity in the East. In the league, period.”

The parity doesn’t seem to be limited to the SEC. On Saturday, eight teams in the AP top 25 were upset. Then, the year’s first edition of the BCS Standings was released Sunday and Boise State’s No. 3 ranking was the highest ever for a school from a non-BCS conference.

“I think everyone thinks they have a chance now, the smaller schools think they have a chance now seeing all the upsets that happened earlier in the year…I think it’s making college football better actually,” Sanders said. “Back in the day, you had the ’05 USC, Texas (teams) where you know those were the (top) two, but now any given week you could be upset.”

The East may be topsy-turvy, but three SEC West schools (Auburn, LSU and Alabama) are in the top eight of the BCS Standings; however, this marks the first week since Nov. 25, 2007 that the SEC has not had a team in the top two of the BCS Standings.

Sanders said that speaks to the quality of the conference.

“Every week in the SEC is a championship game,” he said.