How much SEC Football will change in the 'new' SEC

For SEC Football, the 2024 season brings a shift potentially far broader than the addition of two former Big 12 teams. All 16 teams will be affected.
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Among most fanbases offseasons are a time for optimism. That is even true for SEC football teams whose history justifies no such enthusiasm. Some subset of every SEC fanbase believes their football team will be better in 2024 than it was in 2023.

Does a 2024 season; the first one with 16 SEC teams mean the league will be tougher? Given the additions are two traditionally top programs, the bottom half of the SEC will move from great challenge to even greater challenge.

An argument can be made that traditional success, even recent success matters little in college football's free agency era. Further complicating how to measure a season's success is the 12-team Playoff. For any program with legitimate championship potential, failure will be defined by not making the Playoff field.

Another common perspective is the college football world is ruled by programs with the 'most'. Most as in, top-tier coaching, top facilities, and the 'most' of all - massive funds to buy and pay players.

Have recent seasons given clues as to how much having the 'most' assures success? Over the last seven seasons, Alabama Football has won a season average of 12.4 games. During the same period, Georgia has averaged 12.3 wins. Alabama and Georgia have shown coaching matters greatly. But as Texas A&M, with its Jimbo Fisher debacle, has shown, throwing huge dollars at a head coach is no guarantee of success. In the same seven-season period, Texas A&M averaged 7.6 wins.

The Future of SEC Football

Let's assume the Georgia juggernaut continues its pace. Let's also assume that even without Nick Saban, Alabama is still Alabama. The pair have won four of the last seven National Championships. Can any other SEC teams win a National Championship in the next couple of seasons?

The 2024 season should provide some answers. Texas is revived in the free agency era. LSU won it all in 2019 and Brian Kelly has quickly remedied the Bengal Tiger meltdown that occurred in 2020 and 2021.

Rising programs are creating justified optimism. Ole Miss, Tennessee, and Missouri could break through in 2024. Lane Kiffin, Josh Heupel, and Eli Drinkwitz have turned their programs around. Kiffin and Drinkwitz appear on a path to bring the Rebels and the Tigers to unprecedented success.

What about other SEC Football programs?

Over the past seven seasons, nine SEC teams have averaged less than 7.5 wins per season. They are Auburn and Florida at 7.1; Ole Miss and Missouri at 7; Mississippi State at 6.9; Tennessee at 6.7; South Carolina at 6; Arkansas at 4.4, and Vandy at 3.3 wins.

Will the 'new' SEC have a bottom nine of Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Auburn, Florida, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt?

Mark Stoops has achieved impressive consistency in Lexington. After a strong rebound in 2023, Oklahoma should not be discounted. Maybe the Gators and the Aggies, perhaps even Auburn can become threats to the SEC's top teams.

For Mississippi State, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Vanderbilt, life in the new SEC brings a financial bonanza, but competitively, onfield prospects are bleak.