The so-called Big Six has dominated Southeastern Conference football for a half a century.
Senior Editor Phillip Marshall
Since Ole Miss' glory days ended with an SEC championship in 1963, Auburn, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia and LSU have carried the league's banner. Kentucky won a share of the SEC title in 1976 while on probation. Other than that, no team outside of those six has won a conference or national championship. Four of them - Alabama (2), LSU, Florida (2) and Auburn - have combined to win the last six national championships.
They've done it with Hall of Fame coaches, All-American players and a commitment to excellence that doesn't waver even when things go bad on the field.
Arkansas has knocked on the door a couple of times. So has South Carolina. Mississippi State made some noise when Jackie Sherrill was around. But none have been admitted to the club.
But among those six, things don't stay the same for long. Four years ago, Florida had won two of the previous three national championships and Urban Meyer was being called one of the great coaches in history. Today, it's Alabama and LSU, Nick Saban and Les Miles.
Will it be different a year from now? Who knows? Auburn's Gene Chizik, a year and a half removed from the national championship, has recruited at the top of he food chain. So has Mark Richt at Georgia. And Will Muschamp at Florida.
Arkansas seemed poised to crash the big party, but that was before Bobby Petrino and his mistress climbed on his motorcycle. South Carolina has done some good things, but the Gamecocks lost to Auburn by 39 points in their only trip to the SEC Championship Game.
Sooner or later, someone else is going to win a championship. But none of Big Six is going to go away for long. It's too important to too many people.
That's why Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Tennessee are in the top 10 nationally in athletic expenditures and why Georgia and LSU aren't far behind.
Those six schools make the SEC unique. No other conference can come close to matching that kind of depth of accomplishment and tradition. Add up-and-comers Arkansas and South Carolina, newcomers Texas A&M and Missouri and what you have is the strongest conference in the history of the game.