Jeremiah Short, The Current Voice
SEC vs. SEC National Championship Games Could Become The Norm
Another year has passed. And the Southeastern Conference has won yet another national title–their seventh straight to be exact.
If you haven’t heard by now, the Alabama Crimson Tide demolished the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 42-14 in the BCS National Championship.
Nick Saban, who captured his fourth national title (one at LSU in 2003), credited the talent he’s assembled for the Crimson Tide’s success. “We’ve had a lot of really great football players who’ve worked really hard,” Saban said. “Because we’ve had a great team, we’ve been able to have a significant amount of success.”
Mante Te’o, Notre Dame’s Heisman runner-up linebacker, was somber after the game. “They just did what Alabama does,” moaned Te’o.
He probably cried a little more in the car.
With Alabama’s dominating victory, the SEC’s BCS title haul increased to nine in fourteen years. To go along with the nine BCS titles, the 80-year old conference has won eight additional BCS bowls.
Why has the SEC dominated the rest of college football this way? There are a couple of reasons.
We’ve all heard the saying “it’s about Jimmy’s and Joe’s, not X’s and O’s.” Well, the SEC has plenty of them. It’s no surprise, either. The SEC’s epicenter is a hotbed for talent.
According to a 2011 report published by Rivals.com , Florida, Louisiana, Georgia and Alabama high school football players sign the most Division I scholarships per athlete.
What do these states have in common? SEC schools reside there.
If the NFL Draft is any indication, these athletes are developing once they sign with SEC schools. Over the past ten drafts, the SEC averaged 7.5 players a year drafted in the first round. An average that is sure to grow after the 2013 draft–with up to 16 SEC players projected to get taken in the first round.
Aside from the close proximity to home, athletes are attracted to the SEC’s brand of football. The conference, which was once known for “smashmouth” football, features five diverse styles: smashmouth, the pistol, pro-style, no-huddle spread and the spread-option.
Members of the 14-team conference are guaranteed a challenge every week. Just like the NFL, “any given Saturday” is the mantra in the SEC.
An experienced and talented group of coaches helps the SEC’s cause, as well. Three head coaches: Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier and Les Miles combine for six national titles. And several other coaches have won them as assistants.
How has the SEC stockpiled so many elite coaches? What else…MONEY!!!
According to Forbes, the average salary for an SEC head coach was 2.54 million in 2012…100,000 more than the next best conference, the Big 12.
The massive athletic budgets of SEC schools don’t hurt either.
In a 2011 Sports Business Daily article, it was revealed that the SEC had five of the top ten athletic budgets in college sports–with a median average of 90.3 million…dwarfing the 78.8 million dollar average of Big Ten teams.
Why Don’t Other Conferences Stack Up?
The Remaining Big Five(I don’t count the Big East)
Big 12 : The Big 12 presents a stiff challenge to the SEC. The Bob “Use-To-Be-Big-Game” Stoops-led Oklahoma Sooners are the flagship program in the conference. Outside of their choke jobs, they usually don’t have a tough road to the national title game.
After the Sooners, the Texas Longhorns, whom were the last non-SEC school to win the national championship, usually contend for top-5 status. That is If the past two years are removed from the history books.
The Verdict :Their weak defenses prevent them from taking down the SEC.
Pac-12 : The now 12-member league(added Utah and Colorado in 2010) has played in just one national title game since the Texas vs. USC(University of Southern California) in 2006. The conference, hampered by USC’s fall from grace, has two current contenders: The Oregon Ducks and Stanford Cardinals. But, if USC was to return to prominence, the Pac-12 could become a dominant conference again.
The Verdict : USC’s downtrodden status and lack of toughness prevents them from challenging the SEC.
Big Ten : After adding the Nebraska Cornhuskers in 2011, the Big Ten(or 12) are starting to develop depth similar to the SEC. It wasn’t the best year for them, though, as the conference had to send an 8-5 Wisconsin Badger team to the Rose Bowl–due to the Ohio State Buckeyes and Penn State Nittany Lions postseason bans.
Even with Penn State ineligible for the postseason play for the next three years, the conference still has three traditional national powers: Ohio State, Michigan and Nebraska in its stable of teams.
The Verdict : One thing and one thing only stops them from competing with the SEC: speed.
ACC : The ACC( last playing in the BCS title game in 2000) has struggled the past 12 years. On the surface, they should rival the SEC–with the Miami Hurricanes and Florida State Seminoles among their members. But, Miami is still trying to become “The U” again, and Florida State still trying to become, well, Florida State.
The Verdict : Until Miami and Florida State return to contender status, the conference will be sitting at home on the final day of the college season.
The Other Schools
Big East : You are the weakest link…good bye.
Mid-Majors : Why even waste your time discussing them.
Even though this will fall on deaf ears in SEC country, I have to wonder: Is the SEC’s domination good for college football.
In a ESPN.com interview, Bob Bowlsby, Big 12 commissioner, said that it wasn’t good for the sport. “I don’t think there’s any question it would be better for college football if the national championship moved around a little bit,” said Bowlsby.
While Bowlsby needs to worry more about keeping his teams from leaving, he may have a point. BCS title game ratings support his argument. During the SEC’s historic run, the game has averaged a 16.2 rating. Respectable numbers.
But, the last non-SEC title game, which featured Texas and USC, drew a 21.7 rating. When two SEC teams–Alabama and LSU–faced off in the national championship, the game only pulled a 14.0 rating. So, the numbers show a little variety couldn’t hurt.
With the four-team playoff system going into effect in 2014, variety may not exist for some years–as the system doesn’t prevent conferences from placing two teams in the playoffs
Unless SEC schools start snitching on each other worse than a “First 48” witness, SEC vs. SEC national championship games could become a common occurrence.
The question is: Will other conferences get fed up and try to tear down the modern-day collegiate power?
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