Football, NCAA Basketball, SEC, Sports

Has the SEC’s dominance come to an end?

What an exciting finish to the NCAA tournament! UCONN held on to a slim margin of victory over Kentucky after the Wildcats bounced back from a 15 point deficit on Monday night. It was definitely a fitting end to an outstanding tournament, a tournament as good as any within the past 20 years. As has become custom for the major college sports in recent years an SEC team made it all the way to the championship game, and for basketball it was 8th seeded Kentucky.

What should be noted throughout the tournament: the continued dominance of the SEC in big games. SEC teams were 12-3 in the tournament, with all three making at least the Sweet Sixteen. However, although SEC teams dominated the playing field at times during the tournament, some startling statistics might show that the SEC isn’t as dominant as it once was.

First off, even though SEC teams had an overwhelming winning record in the tournament, all these wins were accumulated by three teams: Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee. Also, of the three Florida was the only one with a high ranking as the #1 overall favorite. Kentucky’s run was magical yes, but the fact remains that they entered the tournament as an 8 seed. The lower you’re seeded means the less successful you were in the regular season, where teams would be playing other teams outside of their conference a lot more. Tennessee was even worse; as an 11 seed they had to play in the newly established “first round” play-in game, where they had to beat an opponent in order to even play in the Round of 64 tournament.

There’s also the fact that both Florida and Kentucky looked completely defeated at times against eventual champion Connecticut. UConn won against Florida in the regular season by a buzzer beater at home, but defeating Florida a second time by a wide margin proved that the first win was no fluke. Florida was supposed to be the overwhelming favorite to win the tournament too. Kentucky got down by as much as 15 in the first half before making things interesting. Credit to Kentucky, but they were also favorites going into the title game. While the SEC did have a great record in the tournament their failures at the biggest stage cannot be ignored.

Maybe I’m being a little too hard on the SEC, and especially for basketball since the SEC’s always been a football conference. If you swing back over to football though their dominance in BCS title games came to an end in January, when Auburn lost to Florida State. That loss marked the first time that an SEC team has lost in the title game, while at the same time snapping a streak of seven consecutive SEC BCS champions. These trends have to beg the question: is the SEC still the dominant conference that it once was with just a few hiccups, or is the conference’s reign of dominance actually coming to an end?

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Florida Gators, NCAA Basketball, SEC

The Long Leash of the Student Athlete

March Madness is almost over, and with that we’re down to the final stretch of games for the college basketball season. Of the four teams remaining in the NCAA tournament only Florida and Kentucky are from the SEC, although Florida is the prohibitive favorite to win the title. A big part of the reason that Florida is still remaining in the tournament has been the leadership and heroics of senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin. Wilbekin has been the driving force for the Gators throughout the tournament, delivering clutch shots when needed and rallying his team when they’re out of sorts. Florida is such an overwhelming favorite with Wilbekin at the helm that it’s astonishing to think about just how close he came to not even be on the team this year.

In July 2013 Wilbekin was suspended from the Gators for the second time in less than a year. The fact that head coach Billy Donovan refused to say what the suspension was for surrounded Wilbekin’s suspension in mystery, although it was clearly obvious he had done something that the Gators didn’t want to reveal. Forced to deal with the situation on his own and get his act together, Wilbekin eventually got under his head coach’s good graces once again and was reinstated to the team… for the second time in less than a year. While Wilbekin deserves credit for turning his career around and leading the Gators to the cusp of the national title one has to wonder how thing would’ve fared for him if he wasn’t a student athlete.

Scottie Wilbekin’s case isn’t a unique one. There are tons of student athletes that get suspended from their teams for doing something that usually isn’t revealed. This enables players to be taught a lesson while at the same time not adding a bad label to their name by being associated with something. A regular student would never get this luxury though, and the question can be raised as to if these suspensions are doing any good at all. Wilbekin had to be suspended and reinstated twice in one year before he got the message that he had to clean up his act, and that’s not even counting the amount of times he’d probably been involved in some other form of trouble. Fans don’t really care about these types of things anyways nowadays. Sure they might say “Oh he’s a bad person” but they will still cheer for these types of players as long as they provide wins for their team. And the schools will keep giving them chances as long as they can still make money for the school without severely damaging that schools reputation. The point is that these players know that they have some form of leverage since the school treats them as money makers and so their leash of doing things before they suffer severe consequences is a long one as a result.

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NCAA Basketball, Recording, SEC, Student Athletes

Audio Slideshow: Auburn vs Alabama

https://googledrive.com/host/0Bze_MzBI19erSFI0Q2dYT3paclU/index.html

The Audio Slideshow is titled Auburn vs Alabama, and it covers the Auburn vs Alabama women’s basketball game that took place on Feb. 27. It was senior night, with many of the players playing their last home game for the Tigers. Tyrese Tanner, the leading scorer and team captain, was one of those players. This slideshow takes you through the sights and sounds of a highly competitive game that Auburn pulled out in double ot.

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Florida Gators, NCAA Basketball

“The More We Won, the Less I Went to Class”

March Madness is just around the corner, and heading into the most exciting time of the college basketball season is the University of Florida as the #1 overall seed in both the AP poll and the USA Today coaches poll. Florida has been on a tear for the past few months, going 27-2 on the year and has not suffered a loss since a narrow 65-64 loss to the University of Connecticut on December 2. Since then Florida has run off 22 straight victories and is the prohibitive favorite to win the tournament.

Florida’s return to success in the college basketball ranks reminds me of something that former Gator Joakim Noah said about the way he lived when Florida won back to back championships in 2006 and 2007. In this interview on Dan Le Batard’s ESPN show, Highly Questionable, the former Gator and current starting center of the Chicago Bulls admitted that the more Florida won basketball games the less he and his teammates went to class. The interview can be seen here below.

Noah states how instead of going to class and trying to get a degree he and his teammates became accustomed to the life of the party, whose only real purpose at Florida was to win basketball games. It was like the “student” aspect of “student-athlete” was taken out entirely.

This was alarming to me, and I know that it’s been a topic of debate among people for years. Just how are athletes viewed by the Universities that enroll them? It’s even more alarming when you take into account that Florida is only one of many colleges that allow athletes to slack on their studies because they are good at sports, and that this is almost becoming an accepted way of life for these so called student athletes. Should this be an accepted way of life though?

 

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Football, NCAA Basketball, SEC, Sports

Introduction

Hello Everyone, my name is Pierce Quinn and I am currently a student at Auburn University. I have always wanted to talk about the impact that sports has on a culture, and finally I have the chance to do that with this blog. I chose the SEC because a fascinating thing has happened with this college football conference. It seems as though there is this “conference pride” that is associated with the SEC that isn’t found in any other conference on a prep, collegiate, or professional level, and I want to know why that is. I want to look into just how seriously people take sports, and the ramifications it has on their personal lives. I also want to find out how athletes are perceived by fans and colleges. Since American Football is the most popular sport in the SEC I will be talking mostly about it, but there will also be other sports that I will cover every now and then.

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