College Football Playoff: How Many Times Has an SEC Team Won the National Championship?

If you’re a college football fan, you like hear the talking heads rave about how stacked the Southeastern Conference is every season. And let’s be honest, they aren’t wrong. It seems the SEC has multiple teams competing for a spot in the College Football Playoff every year.

So, since the conference is the standard for success on the gridiron, we took a look at the number of times an SEC team has won the national championship.

The SEC first formed in 1933

The SEC logo during a football game in 2018. How many times has an SEC school won the college football national championship?
The SEC logo during a game between the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs on Oct. 27, 2018. | David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Believe it or not, the SEC hasn’t been around forever. According to the conference’s site, it first formed in 1933, and these following programs were the inaugural teams:

  • Alabama Crimson Tide
  • Auburn Tigers
  • Florida Gators
  • Georgia Bulldogs
  • Kentucky Wildcats
  • LSU Tigers
  • Ole Miss Rebels
  • Mississippi State Bulldogs
  • Tennessee Volunteers
  • Vanderbilt Commodores

After those schools competed amongst each other for nearly 60 years, the SEC added South Carolina and Arkansas in 1991. Missouri and Texas A&M then joined in 2012, and Texas and Oklahoma plan to make the move from the Big 12 by 2025.

Despite its recent dominance, the conference didn’t win its first title in football until 1951 (at least according to NCAA standards), when R.R. Neyland’s Tennessee squad won it all. However, it has since been the best of the best.

SEC teams have won 26 college football national championships

Since that first championship in 1951, SEC teams have won 25 more. Heading into the title game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Bulldogs on Jan. 10, 2022, the total number of college football national championships won by SEC schools is 26. 

That number doesn’t reflect any titles programs may have won before entering the SEC. For example, Alabama won three before joining the conference, and Texas A&M won (at least) two.

Here’s the breakdown of championships won by each school:

  • Alabama: 13
  • LSU: 4
  • Florida: 3
  • Tennessee: 2
  • Auburn: 2
  • Ole Miss: 1
  • Georgia: 1

The 26 titles also don’t show how dominant the conference has been in the last 30 years. If any team wants to win the championship, it must go through the SEC first.

The Southeastern Conference has been dominant in the last 30 years

Alabama claimed six national championships with Bear Bryant in the 1960s and 1970s. But after Georgia’s 1980 title, the conference went into a slump, not winning another until Bama won one again in 1992.

Since then, though, the SEC has been the conference to beat, winning 15 championships in 29 seasons from 1992 to 2020.

During the BCS era, an SEC team made each of the final eight national championship games from 2006 through 2013. So far in the College Football Playoff era, a school from the conference has played in seven of the eight championship games, including the 2021 season. In 2017 and 2021, Alabama and Georgia both made it to the big game.

Most of the SEC’s recent success can also be attributed to Bama. The Crimson Tide have been in all but one of the CFPs and have made it to six title games in the eight seasons the playoff has been in existence.

Since Nick Saban took over the program in 2007, Alabama has won six championships, with three coming under the BCS format and three more under the CFP.

All in all, you can almost always guarantee an SEC team will be vying for a championship at the season’s end. The conference has been as dominant as it gets and likely won’t slow down any time soon.

Stats courtesy of the SEC and NCAA

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