To semi-objectify this, I am placing all of the pre-expansion SEC teams into tiers.
Tier 1 - Bama Florida LSU Auburn Tennessee
Tier 2 - Georgia Arkansas
With that out of the way, Georgia leads the way for the second tier teams - ones that participated in the discussion as well as the second tier BCS bowls. Richt's team had a solid argument in 2007 and came within a breath of the championship game last season. The Dawgs went to the Sugar Bowl three times, winning twice. Then there's only one other team to make a BCS Bowl game that didn't make the title game, Arkansas. And they hold the distinction of losing to Ohio State.
Tier 3 - South Carolina Mississippi State Kentucky Vanderbilt Ole Miss
South Carolina seems as odd a fit here as Tennessee does at the top. But the lines are drawn, and based on my research the Gamecocks did not make a BCS Bowl. But they did make four Outback Bowls and one Capital One Bowl, which clearly elevates them above the rest in this lot. Has Ole Miss even been to bowl game? Ever?
Back to Georgia. Based on this breakdown I'd give Mark Richt and the program a solid B. They did enough at the right time to enter into the discussion and the national arguments in late November/early December. But they didn't do enough at the right time to elevate to the upper crust.
And it's easy to see that grade of B when relating it to most of the other teams. Alabama sets the curve with an A+; Florida and LSU a solid A for their titles as well as their complete body of work; Auburn an A- for their title and a decent body of work to go along with it; I'd give Arkansas and Carolina a B- and the rest C's , D's and complete failures.
But Tennessee man. Their just a square peg. Given my breakdown here you'd give them an A-. But hard to argue that Georgia hasn't done more over the course of the BCS era. Still, you make your own luck I guess.
Would you trade our own streak of bowl games, which spans all the way back to the 1997 Outback Bowl, for the Tennessee's trophy? Before you answer that question, check the next post.