Obviously, it "matters" for lots of reasons. But does it matter for SEC championship purposes? Counter-intuitively, maybe not.
As Georgia and Florida have been the two most successful SEC East teams this decade, it seems obvious that the winner of the Cocktail Party would have a leg up on winning the division. But, at least for Georgia, that isn't the case.
Georgia has represented the East in Atlanta three times, all since 2002, so let's start there -- also the second year of the Richt Era. In those years ('02, '03, '05), the Dawgs are 0-3 against the Gators. Of course, the cynic might argue that we never beat Florida, so we win the division in spite of that problem. But that's not true.
Twice under Richt, we have beaten the Swamp Things. But in both 2004 and 2007, we lost to Tennessee, and it was the Vols that went to Atlanta. Of course, the UT game always precedes the UF game; in other words, both recent times we've won in Jacksonville, we were already playing catch-up in the division.
Now, if we had to choose between either winning the division or beating Florida, it's not a great choice, but I think most fans would be happy with at least one every year. And, interestingly, the two most disappointing/frustrating years of the Richt Era were also the only two years (excluding the first season, 2001) where neither of those things happened, 2006 and 2008. Our rivals to the south, as you may recall, see both of those years in a quite different light.
As it turns out, the real key is beating Tennessee. We are 3-0 vs. UT in years we ended up going to Atlanta; only one year since 2002 have we beaten the Vols and NOT gone to the Dome (2008).
What does this all mean? I guess it means that if we can't get past Tennessee, we can't win the East; beating Florida might help but only this year would it have made a difference. I hate to say beating the Gators winds up being a consolation prize most years, but that seems to be the case, at least in the small sample size of the last seven seasons.
Of course, if we ever managed to beat both our northern and southern neighbors in the same season...
62 votes total