GREENSBORO, Ga. — Is the balance of power in the SEC football ranks on the verge of shifting to the East Division this season?
Georgia won the SEC Championship Game last season, beating Auburn 28-7, and new Florida coach Dan Mullen took note.
“I know the depth of the West is always really tough and makes it really hard, but it seems the power might be shifting to the East,” Mullen said Monday at the Ritz-Carlton Lodge on Lake Oconee, where former NFL coach Bruce Arians was hosting the sixth annual Georgia Celebrity Golf Classic.
“In my nine years in Mississippi, the West won the championship every single year, and now as soon as I move to the East, two days later, the East won it again, so I seem to be on the winning side every year.”
The former Mississippi State coach is almost completely correct in his recollection. The East Division won the SEC Championship game three of the four years he served as offensive coordinator on Urban Meyer’s staff at Florida:
• 2005 Georgia 34, LSU 14
• 2006 Florida 38, Arkansas 28
• 2007 LSU 21, Tennessee 17
• 2008 Florida 31, Alabama 20
But to Mullen’s point on Monday, coaching changes might key a shift moving forward.
Consider, former Nick Saban defensive coordinators Kirby Smart and Jeremy Pruitt have moved to the East as head coaches, and now Mullen has flipped from Mississippi State to the Gators.
The depth in the West could be questioned moving forward.
Ole Miss is besieged with leftover issues from Hugh Freeze’s documented problem tenure, and once-celebrated Arkansas coach Bret Bielema is out at Arkansas after a 29-34 run from 2013-17.
Of the six coaches who will be making their first appearance at SEC Media Days next week in Atlanta, four are from the SEC West.
Outside of Georgia’s SEC Championship Game dominance, however, last season didn’t present much evidence that the East Division was on the verge of league supremacy.
Here are the results in SEC East-West games from the 2017 season:
SEC West wins vs. East, 2017
Alabama 59, Vanderbilt 0
Auburn 51, Missouri 14
Texas A&M 24, South Carolina 17
LSU 17, Florida 16
Ole Miss 57, Vanderbilt 35
Texas A&M 19, Florida 17
Alabama 45, Tennessee 7
Mississippi State 45, Kentucky 7
Ole Miss 37, Kentucky 34
Auburn 40, Georgia 17
LSU 30, Tennessee 10
SEC East wins vs. West, 2017
Georgia 31, Mississippi State 3
South Carolina 48, Arkansas 22
Missouri 48, Arkansas 45
Georgia 28, Auburn 7
SEC East vs. SEC West record since 2012 expansion
2016: SEC West was 10-5 vs. SEC East
2015: SEC West was 13-2 vs. SEC East
2014: SEC West was 11-4 vs. SEC East
2013: SEC West was 9-6 vs. SEC East
2012: SEC West was 8-7 vs. SEC East
Mike Griffith was named FWAA Beat Writer of the year in January and covers Georgia football for DawgNation. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32
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