Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Pac-12 end SEC reign? Yes and no
By Ted Miller
The question from the the home office in Bristol: When will the SEC reign end?
The short answer is next January when the winner of the Pac-12 championship -- USC or Oregon (or is is Oregon or USC?) -- stomps a bootprint on LSU's forehead in South Florida.
The long answer is, well, it's not going to end. And there are specific, proven reasons for this. They are the same reasons the SEC became dominant.
Money and real estate.
The SEC is the richest conference, though the Big Ten certainly gives it a run for the money. Sure, the Pac-12 eclipsed everyone with its latest TV deal, but that was a matter of good timing. Just wait until the SEC gets a new deal. One word: Jack-freaking-pot.
It's also about stadium size and fan passion. The SEC has the first and those over-brimming stadiums proves the second. Still, the Big Ten also boasts big stadiums that are full every Saturday.
Real estate pushes the SEC over the top: The Southeast is loaded with prep talent, and there is a passion for high school football that pushes the best athletes onto the gridiron -- instead of the hardwood. The addition of Texas A&M will only boost that fertile recruiting footprint, by the way.
Want to know where all the good Pac-12 linemen are? Wasting their time playing basketball. What does that mean? If you live on the West Coast, go to a high school hoops game this weekend. That 6-foot-5 guy playing center? He doesn't play football. He tried it in seventh grade. It was too hard. In the Southeast, the social forces would say: "Son, get your butt onto the football field." On the West Coast, the social force say, "Hey, do what you want."
Perhaps the West Coast social forces are better. Live and let live, right? But guess what? That 6-foot-5 guy playing center would have a lot better shot at a free education at a Pac-12 school if he played football.
So the bottom line is the SEC has the money, which pays the best coaches and builds the best facilities. It has the workforce: The high school football talent in the Southeast. And it has the culture: Football is the unchallenged king in the South.
Eventually, perhaps next year, another conference is going to win the BCS national title. But the likelihood, at least in the foreseeable future, is the SEC will continue to win national championships at a higher rate than any other conference.
Of course, next year, Oregon or USC is going to open up a can of whup-butt on the SEC in the title game. So the Pac-12 has that going for it.