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SMITH COLUMN: SEC offers competition in athletics

June 19, 2012

Smith

The SEC could stand for some excellent competition.

That's what those who follow the Southeastern Conference seem to be treated to most of the time when members of the league encounter each other on the athletic court or field.

That was what came to mind while watching the Arkansas Razorbacks and the South Carolina Gamecocks play at the College World Series Monday night.

In a very close contest, Arkansas ended South Carolina's 22-game winning streak in the NCAA Tournament with a 2-1 victory in Omaha, Neb.

It wasn't uncommon to see the sharp pitching, timely hitting and sparkling defense coming from the Razorbacks and Gamecocks. Those areas of the game came to be expected from various SEC teams all during the season.

The surprising thing about the CWS to this point is that Arkansas has won both of its games, while the Florida Gators and South Carolina are two national seeds that have not done as well. Florida was the No. 1 national seed and was eliminated by Kent State Monday, while the two-time defending national champion and No. 8 Gamecocks are one loss away from being sent home.

South Carolina is going to have to win its own little version of an SEC Tournament it seems if it's going to claim another national title. Other than their loss to the Razorbacks, the Gamecocks defeated the Gators 7-3 in their first game in Omaha. It was a little bit of a revenge game for South Carolina as Florida won a 7-2 decision to knock the Gamecocks out of the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala., back in May.

It's interesting to see Arkansas sitting in the driver's seat on its side of the CWS bracket with no losses, especially after the showing at the SEC Tournament. The Razorbacks didn't put up much of a fight in Hoover and were eliminated in two games by Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Now Arkansas is just three wins away from a national championship. Pretty wild, huh?

That just goes to show again that on any given day an SEC team can beat another with little advanced warning.

There should be no surprise why Texas A&M and Missouri chose the SEC as its destination of choice when deciding to change leagues last year. Those schools either like a challenge or may be a little bit crazy.

The competition the SEC provides each year doesn't compare with anywhere else in the country. It doesn't matter the sport.

When considering the big three of football, basketball and baseball, the SEC currently holds national championships in all of them. Alabama won in football, while Kentucky has the title in basketball and South Carolina is wearing the crown in baseball with the chance to keep it for the third-straight season.

The Gamecocks have some work to do if that's going to happen.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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