The SEC, it just means more.
While even the most ardent SEC fans may roll their eyes or think that the commercial is a little cheesy, the message is accurate.
The pride within the conference is very real. The “SEC!” chants that are heard at various different sporting events is just the verbal manifestation of it. During the college football bowl season the pride is apparent with each win acquired by the conference schools.
For the most part, fans of other conferences have just had to tolerate the success of SEC football as best they can. If their conference had gone on a run of seven consecutive national championships (and 10 out of the last 17) they would no doubt ooze a little conference pride of their own as well.
The Kentucky Wildcats have been the lone consistent SEC beacon when it comes to college basketball as their eight national championships and 17 Final Four appearances indicate. Big Blue’s success in March is so much a part of the fabric of everyone’s life that the “SEC!” chant doesn’t really make an appearance as Kentucky survives and advances.
So imagine everyone’s surprise when the chant was heard loud and clear this week in the 2017 NCAA Tournament. The Cats were joined on their journey to the Elite Eight by the Florida Gators, who knocked off Virginia and Wisconsin, and the South Carolina Gamecocks who dispatched Duke and Baylor.
Florida is no stranger to tournament success but South Carolina has made school history with each passing game. Northwestern got a lot of positive attention, and deservedly so, for making their first NCAA tournament (and winning a game) in school history. As great as that was, its something lots of schools have done. South Carolina just made it to their first Elite Eight and is a win (over SEC rival Florida) away from making their first Final Four.
Getting to the big dance and making some noise once you get there is a whole different ball game.
I bashed SEC basketball as much as anybody this year. I'll hush up now.
— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) March 20, 2017
Pat Forde already admitted that he had to eat crow earlier in the week and this was prior to Florida and South Carolina continuing to advance. The SEC had been disappointing as a whole in basketball for a while, there was no denying that. Several schools went out and made upgrades at the head coaching position and now Frank Martin and Mike White are generating some positive results for their athletic director’s respective labors.
The rest of the nation might not be ready for the SEC to start joining Kentucky in making legitimate noise in March but if trends like these continue they’re gonna have to get ready in a hurry.