Last week, I wrote the BCS was headed towards major controversy this season with four (eligible) teams on the road to perfect records.
Well, here we are one week later and that statement no longer applies.
Sure, there are still three teams on their way to undefeated regular seasons, but if Alabama can be upset, there is no doubt the possibility exists for Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame.
Instead, the college football scene is now faced with a different set of circumstances surrounding the title game: a championship without a Southeastern Conference team. No one gave this ending a thought at the beginning of the season. But it’s the direction college football is currently headed, and one the nation hasn’t had since it seems the time dinosaurs roamed the earth.
The year was 2006. Jan. 4, 2006 to be exact.
Big 12 champion Texas beat out Pac-10 champion USC in the Rose Bowl, which served as the championship game that season. But since this time and the beginning of the separately named BCS National Championship game, an SEC team has not only played in each year’s game, but come away with the Coaches’ Trophy every time.
SEC newcomer Texas A&M may have upset the top-ranked team in the nation, a storyline most fans enjoy to see unfold, but it also, in high likelihood, put an end to the SEC’s monopoly on college football’s greatest prize.
Most college football fans are more excited about the end of the SEC presence in the game than in the fall of the Crimson Tide. The door is now wide open for other conferences to fight their way to a national title. A championship game pairing between teams from both the Big 12 and Pac-12 (something that hasn’t occurred since 2006) appears to be a very good possibility right now between No. 1 Kansas State and No. 2 Oregon.
While I am excited for the very real possibility that a team from outside the SEC will take home the title as the nation’s best this year, I don’t believe the lack of a team from the SEC in the championship game wipes away the dominance of the conference.
The simple fact is that no team in college football has beaten the elite programs of the SEC this season. Alabama may have been downed Saturday, but it was at the hands of a fellow conference member.
The same goes for No. 5 Georgia, who fell to No. 9 South Carolina and then beat No. 6 Florida two weeks later. Bring in the other top SEC programs like No. 7 LSU, South Carolina and the emerging power No. 8 Texas A&M, who have each accumulated two losses this year all to SEC foes, and the picture is clear.
The SEC is at a disadvantage from finishing with a clean slate because they play in the toughest conference in college football, hands down.
Any idea when the last time one of the four best SEC teams at the end of a season lost to a non-conference opponent? Two seasons ago it happened just once, when Arkansas lost to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl.
No other BCS conference comes even close to boasting all-around success like the SEC. In this week’s BCS ratings, after undefeated Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame at the top three spots, you hit Alabama at No. 4 and then five SEC programs consecutively fall in line. You read it right, six teams from a single conference are currently in the BCS Top 10.
You could argue individual programs compare to those in the SEC. Oregon comes to mind with two trips to the Rose Bowl and a loss in the BCS Championship game in the past three season under the direction of coach Chip Kelly. Ohio State is always a competitive team, although it’s endured turmoil to that status in recent years. But, under the direction of Urban Meyer, the program will likely see even more success in the coming years after this year’s ban on post-season play is served. But you don’t see a conference that continuously produces multiple top programs each year like the SEC.
As the season looks now, the SEC will not have a seventh-consecutive national title to show the unarguable fact that they are the best. The conference will be at the mercy of losses from two of the three undefeated teams for a spot in the title game. If two teams remain undefeated this season, there is no question they deserve a chance to play for the championship. But until Alabama, or whichever SEC team is its best moving forward, is overthrown by a non-conference program, the SEC’s dominance in college football will remain.