The SEC’s dominance of college football goes well beyond the fact they’ve owned the BCS National Championship since 2006, including Alabama’s thrashing of Notre Dame in the 2012 national title game down in Miami. When it comes to measuring conference strength, it’s far more important to look further down the ladder, and it’s here that SEC dominance has really stood out.
Over the past two seasons, the SEC has occupied nine of the possible 20 spots in the final Top 10. That includes five last season, with Georgia, Texas A&M, South Carolina and Florida all joining the Crimson Tide.
The SEC’s bids to the Capital One Bowl and the Cotton Bowl give their runner-ups in each division a chance to test themselves against the runner-up from the Big Ten & Big 12 respectively. The SEC has beaten the Big Ten four of the last five times in the Cap One. The Cotton Bowl battle with the Big 12 is even more one-sided, with five straight wins. That makes 9 of 10 wins in bowls that are good measuring sticks of conference strength.
It all adds up to the fact that it’s probably time, as I wrote in the aftermath of last year’s BCS National Championship Game, for the SEC to secede from the union. The league seems to have separated itself from the rest of the country by such a degree that it’s hard to argue against the notion that the conference champion should be given a virtually automatic slot in the national title game.
This would have been a notion that I resisted strongly as recently as two years ago and even leaned against last year. No more. I won’t take it literally and say there’s no way the SEC champ can be left out of the January 6 national title game in Pasadena. But if that happens, I want it to because the league played itself out by losing significant non-conference games in decent numbers, not just because they took turns beating up on each other.
In short, a national champion from another conference won’t be credible unless somewhere—be it in September or in January—the rest of the country beats the SEC, rather than watching the SEC beat itself.
TheSportsNotebook’s college football coverage today previewed both divisions in this conference. The links to each preview is below. The Cliff’s Notes version of the previews are that I’m looking for an Alabama-South Carolina matchup in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta on December 7. And I expect it to be a de facto national semi-final.
Will it be the Tide, getting a shot at its fourth national crown in five years. Or does Steve Spurrier take South Carolina to the next level and get his own opportunity to join Nick Saban in leading two different schools to a national championship?
Objectively, I see both teams as about as even as you can get. My biases point me to the Gamecocks. I’ve liked this program ever since Lou Holtz took it over in 1999, and I really don’t care for ‘Bama. As a writer it’s also more fun to pick someone new. Normally I look past that, but in a race I see as this close, I’m taking a flyer on South Carolina to win its first SEC championship since joining the league back in 1992.