The LSU-Tennessee baseball game on Saturday could be a sign of things to come. Amongst other things, a College World Series could signify a foreshadowing of success for both teams.
While success on the diamond between the Tigers and Vols is of the utmost importance this weekend, it’s necessary to note that the two programs seem well poised to chase down the dominant football program in the SEC, which is clearly Georgia. No, the Bulldogs aren’t in Omaha, but football is king and the Dawgs have won two straight national championships. LSU and Tennessee’s overall competence in their individual athletic departments should give both fan bases reason to believe they can one day overcome the big, bad team in red that resides in Athens.
The main reason why both programs can overtake Georgia one day is they are the gold standard of managing NIL in the SEC – and perhaps the nation. Baton Rouge is full of billboards that are full of current Tiger players. They’ve figured out NIL. So has Tennessee. Perhaps you’ve heard of a guy named Nico Iamaleava.
NIL is key in the transfer portal as players looking for a new place to play shop their wears. LSU signed 14 transfer players in the 2024 class. Tennessee signed eight.
LSU and Tennessee have both proven they can play the NIL game with the best programs in the nation. They also have head football coaches with proven track records. LSU’s Brian Kelly is Notre Dame’s all-time winningest coach. Tennessee’s Josh Heupel has shown he can grow a program at Central Florida and turn things around quickly at Tennessee. Certainly, Heupel doesn’t have nearly as long of a track record as Kelly, but there’s reason to believe that the best of his career is yet to come.
LSU and Tennessee also have enough of a foundation to benefit from NIL. Sorry Missouri, when it comes to facilities and tradition, the Tigers are just one of many schools that can’t run down Georgia no matter how much NIL cash or great coaching they might have.
After winning two national championships, there’s no arguing that the Bulldogs are the premiere team in college football. Alabama has to be considered second currently. However, LSU and Tennessee have proven they’re on their way. LSU and Tennessee both beat Bama on the gridiron last season. Perhaps the games were flukes, but at least the Tigers and Vols showed they are on Bama’s level.
Clearly, Georgia has supplanted Alabama as the elite team in the country. Does that mean that Georgia is on the precipice of becoming an all-time dynasty like the Crimson Tide has done under coach Nick Saban? Well, that largely depends on just what type of competition the SEC can mount in the face of the mighty Bulldogs.
Alabama clearly hasn’t given up hope. The Crimson Tide signed the No. 1 class in the nation in February. That’s proof that Bama isn’t going anywhere as long as Saban is heading up things. However, Saban, 71, can’t coach forever. Whoever Alabama replaces Saban won’t match his dominance, which means another team may have to step into the SEC’s upper crust to compete with Georgia. There are two teams that seem most likely to elevate their play to that level for similar reasons: LSU and Tennessee.
Saban can’t last forever, which means the days of chasing down Georgia might be limited. That’s where LSU and Tennessee come in as the next suitors in athletic dominance. That dominance won’t be determined in baseball. Football is the ultimate litmus test – and LSU and Tennessee are doing quite well on and off the field in their quest to chase down the Bulldogs.