March means basketball in the world of college athletics, even if SEC teams keep the football excitement flowing with spring practice.
So to fit with that theme, Gridiron Now ranked the SEC schools based on their combined performances in football and basketball this year – who’s fared well on the field, who’s better on the court and which lucky few have been good in both.
The skinny: Ouch, Tigers fans. It’s been rough. Last in the SEC East in football (4-8) and just plain wretched on the court (8-24, plus 2-16 in conference play). Just how does that happen at a school that won SEC East football titles just two years ago and was a perennial NCAA tournament participant from the late 1970s to the early 2000s?
13. Mississippi State
The skinny: A weird and not really great year for the Bulldogs. Yes, they did manage to get into a bowl game with a losing record – not something that happens every day. But they were right at the .500 mark in basketball and never threatened to reach the tournament. Plus, their conference record (6-12) this season was worse than all but two seriously bad teams. Mississippi State hasn’t exactly lit up the hoops world over the years, but fans in Starkville have to think they can do better than that.
12. Ole Miss
The skinny: This was a most unsatisfying year for Rebels fans. On top of the football program’s considerable misery on and off the field, the Ole Miss basketball squad came up short, too – a 21-win season but no NCAA tournament bid (though the Rebels are in the midst of a nice NIT run). Given pending sanctions from the NCAA, this situation might get worse before it gets better.
The skinny: Football: Decent enough, once you get past the chaos of the ouster of Les Miles and the disappointment of missing a Sugar Bowl berth, which the Tigers largely blew their chance of reaching. As for basketball: What happened? You have to go back to 1966-67 (a team coached by Press Maravich, father of Pete) to find a conference winning percentage worse than this year’s 2-16 mark. After a year like that, it’s no shock the Tigers are – again – looking for a new coach in a major sport.
10. Texas A&M
The skinny: The Aggies are in almost the same boat as Tennessee, albeit without the heightened expectations of a football division title (the presence of Nick Saban’s Alabama in the West has a lot to do with that). A&M’s late-season football swoon didn’t help fans’ confidence in Kevin Sumlin, and the Aggies’ return to an unimpressive 16-15 basketball mark threatened to erase some of the optimism of the team’s 2016 charge to the Sweet 16.
The skinny: An established Bulldogs coach coming under fire from fans for not winning enough – where have we heard this before? Georgia hoops coach Mark Fox appears to have survived, but the seat is warm after going .500 in conference and missing the tournament again. The football Bulldogs went .500 in the SEC as well, but at least confidence is on the way up. A top-five recruiting bonanza like the one Kirby Smart signed in February tends to do that.
The skinny: Kind of a mixed bag. The Tigers reached the Sugar Bowl, which is always good, and finished second in an intensely competitive SEC West. With Jarrett Stidham arriving via transfer, Auburn fans have reason to hope for a solution to their quarterback issues. Auburn’s expectations in basketball are generally modest, and despite an 18-win season, the Tigers’ 11 conference losses dented any real chance of getting into the NCAA field.
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