Commentary

More than crystal footballs for SEC

Originally Published: December 19, 2012
By Edward Aschoff | ESPN.com

For the past six-plus seasons, dominance has been spelled with S-E-C in the college football world.

[+] EnlargeAlabama Crimson Tide
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireAlabama is one of four SEC teams to capture the national title over the past six seasons.

Six straight national championships and putting two of your teams in the BCS title game will do that.

The SEC's national championship dominance -- and the possibility of ending it -- has been the leading storyline in college football for the past few years, and when the Discover BCS National Championship rolls around, a large contingent of people above the Mason-Dixon Line will be rooting for Notre Dame to put an end to the SEC's run when the Fighting Irish take on Alabama in Miami.

But even if Alabama falls short, the SEC's postseason dominance won't just fade away. No, this conference has been cleaning up during bowl season outside of just racking up crystal. The SEC's dominance has consumed the entire postseason experience.

Some people like to knock the SEC's credibility when it comes to its actual strength during the past six years. Some argue that the league is too top-heavy and that as good as the top might be, it can get very ugly at the bottom.

But during the SEC's commanding run, all 12 SEC teams (excluding Missouri and Texas A&M) reached at least two bowl games and each one had at least one postseason victory. When this year's bowl season is over, five SEC teams will have been to at least five bowl games since 2008 and eight will have gone to at least six bowls since 2003, with Florida, Georgia and LSU all going to 10.

Since 2006, the SEC has won more bowl games (36) and been to more bowls (55) than any other conference. That includes Ohio State's vacated win over Arkansas in the 2010 Sugar Bowl. The SEC hasn't had a losing record during bowl season since going 3-4 in 2002. The league's .655 bowl winning percentage is third behind the Big East (23-10, .697) and the Mountain West (20-9, .690) during that time, but the number of bowl games those two conferences have played in isn't even comparable.

While the SEC has thrived during the postseason, the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 all have struggled to match the SEC's bowl success. The Pac-12 is right below the SEC in winning percentage with a 16-12 (.571) record. The Big 12 is 25-22 (.532), the ACC is 19-31 (.380) and the Big Ten is 17-30 (.362).

The SEC has gone 28-13 against the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 in bowl games.

The SEC is 16-7 (.696) all-time in BCS bowl games and since 2006 is 9-3 (.750) in BCS games, which is more wins and a higher percentage than any other conference.

The win total actually equals the combined total of wins by the next two highest conferences.

[+] EnlargeGene Chizik, Cam Newton
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesSince the start of the BCS in 1998, no conference has defeated the SEC in a title game.

Looking to the past, you can see that the SEC is stronger now than it was in the early 2000s. During the six years leading up to the SEC's epic championship run, the league went just 23-20 in postseason play and endured two years (2000 and 2002) with losing records during bowl season.

When it comes to the SEC's rise to the top, a lot has been made about the out-of-conference cupcakes that have littered teams' schedules.

SEC haters do have a legitimate gripe when it comes to the SEC's nonconference slates, but when SEC teams show up for bowl games, they generally walk away with a win in hand against much more talented opponents.

Since 2006, the SEC has won 17 bowl games against nonconference opponents ranked in the Top 25 (at the time the game was played), including 10 over top-10 teams. In January bowl games, the SEC is 22-10 (.688), excluding last year's BCS title game. Since 2008, the league is 16-6 (.727) in January games.

This season, the SEC will be represented in nine bowl games. Florida joins Alabama in the BCS pool and all nine SEC squads are currently favored over their bowl counterparts, meaning the odds are that the SEC will leave January with another winning record in bowl season.

While the attention has been paid to the six crystal footballs Alabama, Auburn, Florida and LSU have collected for commissioner Mike Slive's trophy case, the league as a whole really has been on a very strong postseason run these past six seasons, further tightening the SEC's chokehold around college football.

And unless the Mayans were right, it doesn't appear that grip will loosen this season either.