The SEC West Needs Lacrosse
The SEC. The NCAA’s best conference. A conference loaded with tradition. You have Alabama football. Vanderbilt baseball. Florida softball. Kentucky basketball. The Iron Bowl. The Egg Bowl. Tradition galore. Southern sports fandom is crazy. Towns like Auburn, Alabama become the state’s fourth largest city on gamedays. An abundance of passion. Lacrosse’s popularity has grown. There’s talent everywhere. You see talent in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. Fifty years ago, that’d never happen. The SEC needs lacrosse. SEC inclusion would create a lacrosse explosion.
Originally, I planned a piece incorporating every SEC school; however, an article containing each school would become a novel. I’ve broken this series into two parts. Here, I won’t be including schools like Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. They’re in the SEC East. I’ll cover them in part two. Today, it’s all about the SEC West and how schools could succeed.
There are obstacles. Title IX is the largest. I’m not going into that. Pretend Title IX isn’t a problem. Everything is aligned for lacrosse addition.
Basics first. Southern weather is nicer. I play in New Jersey. It’s fun occasionally playing in snow storms. Every week though? It sucks! Cold weather isn’t an issue in SEC country. Eighty degrees is cold in Alabama (seriously, I’d wear a hoodie at that temp). Also, money isn’t an issue. Every school is loaded. Some more than others. Each school could fund programs. Hiring elite coaching staffs isn’t a problem. Need proof? Look at Jimbo Fisher’s contract. Plus, the facilities are top notch. Teams could play home games in soccer stadiums. Football even?
Each school can tout those factors. Now, I’m going into specifics. I chose my order based on SEC West 2020 football standings. If your school is listed last, it doesn’t mean they have less of a shot.
Anyone following lacrosse Twitter is familiar with LSU lacrosse. Their page is an absolute gem. LSU lacrosse is serious. In 2014, team captains decided LSU was prepared for the next step. They wanted LSU run like a varsity program. The Tigers hired Jeff Echols, who led LSU to their most successful five year stretch in history. Echols finished with a 40-35 record. During his tenure, LSU had 37 all-conference selections. The talent level grew.
Since Echols’ retirement, former MLL player, Shane Koppens is the boss. Koppens has done an admirable job. There’s been some drop off, but it’s tough replacing the program’s best coach.
Roster wise, LSU is loaded with local talent. Most players are in-state. Some northeast players are sprinkled in. To start, LSU would have to rely on local talent; however, as a D1 program, I don’t think they have any issue signing blue chip recruits. The name sells.
Alabama football dominates the fall. Could lacrosse own the spring? The Crimson Tide lack a perennially powerful spring sport. Alabama football addicts may satisfy withdrawal symptoms with lacrosse.
The name, Alabama, sells itself. If Alabama announces a team, recruits will flock. The current roster is diverse. Kids from across the country enroll at Alabama. There are players from Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and more. Yankees want to attend Alabama.
Talent-wise, the club could improve. Roll Tide has some dudes but are 13-21 since 2017. The club needs sustained success to push the school towards making the leap.
Take this as you will, but I found chat board rumors about Alabama considering a men’s lacrosse/men’s hockey program. I have no idea how valid this is. But it sure makes me hope. I’m an Auburn guy, but if Alabama adds a team, Roll Damn Tide!
War Eagle! I’m an Auburn guy through and through. My sister was born there. My dad earned his PhD at Auburn. I went there (freshman year). Auburn holds a special place in my heart. I dream of Auburn adding D1 lacrosse.
The town is incredible. Auburn runs on athletics. Even the equestrian team is popular! Folks will support this team. Northeastern recruits will fall in love with Auburn. Recruiting won’t be an issue.
I played club lacrosse at Auburn my freshman year. There’s already D1 talent. I met transfers from Jacksonville and Furman. The club has been relatively successful. Since 2017, Auburn is 26-22. Before 2020’s cancellation, Auburn reached #23 in America. Impressive!
Anyone who follows college football, close your eyes. Imagine a lacrosse Iron Bowl held in Jordan-Hare Stadium. It could be played after the school’s spring football game. Massive exposure! Fans will stay to cheer on Auburn (or boo Alabama).
Everything is bigger in Texas. Lacrosse is bigger in Texas. Lacrosse has grown exponentially in the lone star state. The Aggies are for real. Head coach, Tony Scazzero, has 504 wins, 11 LSA conference championships, and 9 MCLA tournament appearances. People come here to play. The Aggies have two rosters. One for D1 club. One for D3 club.
Let me reiterate, the Aggies have money. Please look at Jimbo Fisher’s contract. Texas A&M can fund a successful program. Scazzero deserves a shot at running an inaugural Texas A&M team.
I don’t know much about Bulldog lacrosse. The Bulldogs aren’t even MCLA. That said, they enjoyed a successful 7-2 2020 season in the NCLL. Mississippi State is accustomed to winning. It’s a small, yet dedicated squad. My only worry? Mississippi doesn’t have the best reputation. It’s a beautiful state (I’ve been to Starkville), but not seen in the best light. Whenever I talk about Mississippi’s niceties, I receive skeptical looks. It’ll be tough to sell Yankees on living here.
What do I call these guys? The Rebels? The Landsharks? Either way, Oxford is an oasis. I have a buddy who went here. It’s a fun place. It’s a party school. Students have fun here. Take a recruit here, and he’ll be sold.
Again though, most northerners don’t want to live in Mississippi. I haven’t met any east coasters who hold Mississippi in a positive light. Plus, Ole Miss needs to improve before there’s any talk of becoming D1. The Rebels are 9-32 since 2017. That said, there’s some nice videos about the program. Highly recommend checking them out.
Anyone who’s been to Arkansas knows what it’s about. The university is gorgeous. The surrounding area is serene.
The Razorbacks are a middle of the road team. Arkansas is 28-30 since 2017. Personally, I feel Arkansas would dominate Big 12 territory in recruiting. So far, my hunch is correct. Looking at their roster, it’s loaded with Texans. There’s solid talent in the region. The Razorbacks could build a blue-collar roster filled with players from Missouri, Texas, Michigan, and Illinois.
Each school has their own hurdles to success. Whether that be support, location, name brand, etc. Greg Sankey, I’m begging you, please add SEC lacrosse. The lacrosse community needs it. It deserves it. I promise you; the market is there. If any of you SEC schools are reading, please get around Title IX. Add some women’s sports to balance things out. Add women’s rowing. Women’s rugby. Women’s rifle. I don’t care. If it makes you add lacrosse, I’ll support those teams too.
Do you want SEC lacrosse? Would you support these programs? Who has the best shot of going D1? Personally, I’d be most excited about LSU, Alabama, and Auburn. I’ll be doing a piece on SEC East schools too. Whatever your thoughts, air them by connecting with me on Twitter or Instagram. You can comment directly onto this article by subscribing. By subscribing, you’ll be notified whenever I publish a new article. Let’s have some fun with the idea of SEC lacrosse. War Eagle!