Consistency key to success in college footbal

The 30-27 overtime setback to Tennessee is a hurdle that Les Miles's crew can overcome as LSU attempts to return to the Top Five nationally and compete for the NCAA championship. Nick Saban'2003 unit survived a 19-7 loss to Florida at home in game six of the national title campaign of two years ago. Miles has a team talented enough to withstand the gut-wrenching comeback by the Volunteers.

In the power structure of the SEC, the triumph by Tennessee means much more. LSU had overtaken Tennessee as a national threat in the last few years. That has changed with Phil Fulmer's Monday night comeback at Death Valley. <br><br>

The SEC is stocked with outstanding programs. Saban had LSU near the top during his tenure. Here is the number of overall wins by conference teams from 2000-2004, the Saban years at TigerTown.<br><br>

SEC victories by team 2000-04 <br><br>

Georgia  50<br><br>

LSU   48<br><br>

Tennessee   47<br><br>

Auburn  46<br><br>

Florida   43<br><br>

Arkansas  36<br><br>

Ole Miss  36<br><br>

South Carolina 33<br><br>

Alabama  30<br><br>

Miss. St.  19<br><br>

Kentucky  17<br><br>

Vanderbilt   11<br><br>

To demonstrate the dramatic leap from mediocrity to excellence for LSU over the past five years, here is the list of wins by SEC teams from 1995-1999, the preceding five years.<br><br>

Florida  53<br><br>

Tennessee 53<br><br>

Alabama 39<br><br>

Georgia 38<br><br>

Auburn 34<br><br>

Ole Miss 34<br><br>

Arkansas 33<br><br>

LSU  33<br><br>

Miss St. 33<br><br>

Kentucky 26<br><br>

So. Car. 15<br><br>

Vanderbilt 14<br><br>

LSU progressed from a three-way tie for seventh in total victories during the Gerry DiNardo years to number two in the league during the Saban Era. The 15 additional wins in the last five years compared to 1995-99 represented the best improvement in the SEC in that time.<br><br>

Comparison of wins by SEC teams in 1995-99 to 2000-04.<br><br>

1995-99; 2000-2004;  Change<br><br>

So. Carolina 15  33   +18<br><br>

LSU  33   48   +15 <br><br>

Georgia 38  50   +12<br><br>

Auburn 34  46   +12<br><br>

Arkansas 33  36   +3<br><br>

Ole Miss 34  36   +2<br><br>

Vanderbilt 14  11   -3<br><br>

Tennessee 53  47   -6<br><br>

Alabama 39  30   -9<br><br>

Kentucky 26  17   -9<br><br>

Florida  53  43   -10<br><br>

Miss St. 33  19   -14<br><br>

In the last decade, Tennessee produced 100 wins under Fulmer while LSU enjoyed 81 victories under DiNardo, Hal Hunter and Saban. It would have meant volumes if LSU had beaten the Vols in Miles's debut at Tiger Stadium. Instead, Fulmer reigns as the supreme coach in the league and has the record to prove his dominance. For what it's worth, Tennessee also boasts the top number of total victories in the conference in the past two decades.<br><br>

SEC teams total victories (1985-2004)<br><br>

Tennessee 186<br><br>

Florida  180<br><br>

Auburn 165<br><br>

Alabama 163<br><br>

Georgia 161<br><br>

LSU  140 <br><br>

Arkansas 138<br><br>

Ole Miss 130<br><br>

Miss St. 103<br><br>

So. Carolina 103<br><br>

Kentucky  87<br><br>

Vanderbilt  56<br><br>

It is essential for Miles to stay at LSU if the Tigers are to stay in the high echelon of college football. Tennessee has the most stability in the league coaching fraternity over the past two decades, and the Vols have been the most successful program in the SEC during that period.<br><br>

Here is a list of the number of head coaches (including interim) in the SEC from 1985-2004.<br><br>

Alabama 7<br><br>

LSU  6<br><br>

Vanderbilt 6<br><br>

Arkansas 5<br><br>

Florida  5<br><br>

Kentucky 5<br><br>

Auburn 4<br><br>

Georgia 4<br><br>

Ole Miss 4<br><br>

Miss. St. 4<br><br>

So. Car. 4<br><br>

Tennessee 2<br><br>

That's 56 head coaches in the SEC over the past 20 years. The figure does not include newcomers in 2005. During the last two decades, the national program with the most victories is Florida State with 204. The Seminoles have employed one head coach during that period.<br><br>


Jim Engster is the station manager for WRKF-FM in Baton Rouge and the host of "The Jim Engster Show." Contact him by e-mail at

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