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Tuesday, January 3, 2012
SEC earns enemies with bowl wins

By Mark Schlabach
ESPN.com

A recent survey by AdAge.com revealed you'll get 2.16 million hits if you type "I hate Exxon" into your Google search bar.

Young
Vince Young led Texas over USC in 2006, the last time a non-SEC team won the BCS title.

"I hate McDonald's" produced 75.3 million hits, and "I hate Nike" turned up 142 million hits.

Remarkably, the Southeastern Conference still isn't the most hated empire in the world.

The same kind of Google search produced only 6.67 million results for "I hate the SEC," and it's really impossible to know if the attached links referred to college football's most dominant conference, or the Securities Exchange Commission. Similar searches for the Big Ten (95.2 million), Notre Dame (8.86 million) and even Duke (41.6 million) generated more haters than the SEC.

But as No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama prepare to play in Monday night's Allstate BCS National Championship Game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, SEC fatigue -- or downright hatred -- seems to be running at an all-time high as the 2011 season comes to a close.

The SEC is assured of one of its teams winning a BCS national championship for the sixth consecutive season, the longest such streak for a conference in college football history. Since the Associated Press Top 25 poll started in 1934, a conference had won three consecutive national titles only twice -- the Big Ten did it from 1940 to '42 and the SEC did it from 1978 to '80.

SEC haters will get a double dose of disgust in next week's BCS championship game -- it will be the first time two teams from the same league will play for a national title during the BCS era.

"I've often said historians will look back on this time and will no doubt consider this one of the SEC's golden ages," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said.

But for college football fans who live north of the Mason-Dixon Line or west of the Mississippi River, it's a period of dominance they'd probably rather forget.

"I don't care where you live in the U.S., you always hear SEC, SEC, SEC," Nebraska defensive tackle Chase Rome told the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star, before the Cornhuskers played South Carolina in Monday's Capital One Bowl.

It seems college football fans who don't have an allegiance to the SEC are tired of hearing about how good it is. Before the final BCS standings were released on Dec. 4, an ESPN SportsNation poll revealed 68 percent of more than 275,000 voters wanted LSU and Oklahoma State to play for the national championship. Predictably, voters in Mississippi, Tennessee and, of course, Alabama wanted to see the Crimson Tide and Tigers play again in the BCS championship game.

But college football fans living in places such as Boise, Idaho, Columbus, Ohio and Eugene, Ore., are sick and tired of hearing about the SEC and its perceived superiority.

I refuse to watch Alabama-LSU Part II: The Return of the Field Goals. Bedlam basketball [Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State] I think is on that night as well, and it will be a much more competitive and exciting game. Actually organized chess would be a more exciting thing to watch compared to LSU-Alabama. Please let the upper management of ESPN know how angry the people of Oklahoma are about this.

James White,


Stillwater, OK


Chip Kelly
Oregon coach Chip Kelly says SEC teams have a right to brag until someone else beats them.

It's been 2,190 days since a non-SEC team was crowned college football's national champion. On Jan. 4, 2006, quarterback Vince Young led Texas to its first national championship since 1970 by throwing for 267 yards and running for 200 in a 41-38 victory over Southern California at the Rose Bowl.

The Trojans' dynasty ended that night, as the Longhorns ended their 34-game winning streak and aspirations of winning three consecutive national titles.

The SEC dynasty started a year later, after No. 2 Florida upset No. 1 Ohio State 41-14 in the first stand-alone BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 8, 2007.

LSU won a BCS national championship after the 2007 season, followed by Florida in 2008, Alabama in 2009 and Auburn in 2010.

Since 1998, five different SEC teams have won national championships (Tennessee won in 1998); no other conference had more than two teams win national titles during that time.

The SEC's recent dominance doesn't end there. Since the Longhorns won the 2005 BCS national championship, SEC teams have:

• Occupied more than half the slots in the BCS National Championship Game, with its teams playing in the six title games a total of seven times.

• Held a lead at the end of 16 of the last 20 quarters in the BCS title game.

• Been ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings in 26 of 48 weeks. On Nov. 20, three SEC West teams -- No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Arkansas -- occupied the top three spots in the BCS standings.

• Been included in the top 25 of the weekly BCS standings a total of 238 times, more than any other conference. Vanderbilt is the only SEC team which has failed to appear in the BCS standings during the last six seasons. LSU and Alabama have combined to appear in the BCS standings a total of 80 times.

• Posted an 8-2 record in BCS bowl games, more victories and a higher winning percentage than any other league. The Pac-12 is 5-3 in BCS bowl games; the Big East is 2-3; the Big 12 is 4-4; the Big Ten is 3-8; and the ACC is 1-4. Seven of the SEC's eight victories in BCS bowl games since 2006 were decided by 10 points or more.

And now either LSU or Alabama will be crowned the sport's national champion again next week.

While listening to Brad Edwards explain the latest installment of "The BCS For Hillbillies" it becomes apparent why the SEC is not now, nor has it ever been ranked among its own biased polls as a result of actually being good. The SEC has been deceived into believing it's good because it is easy to be a pageant winner when all the contestants are your own ugly sisters.

Sure, we're certain you've heard, "Come on out to the West Coast and win, then we'll see if the SEC is actually good." And, don't spout off about LSU beating Oregon at a neutral site [40-27 in Arlington, Texas in the Sept. 3 opener]. We saw tailgaters choking down gumbo in rest areas along I-49, while Duck fans were cashing in frequent flyer miles to pay off mortgages! Let's play again, and this time we'll spot you two touchdowns minus two fumbles by a freshman who had never played college football. Only this time, let's play at our "neutral site," like say ... Seattle! Enjoy the backyard beauty pageant -- and corn chips.

Paul Jenson


Oregon coach Chip Kelly, whose Ducks lost to Auburn 22-19 in last season's BCS championship game in Glendale, Ariz., said the SEC has earned the right to beat its chest.

"Do I get tired of it? No, because they've won five straight," Kelly said. "So that's the reality. You can say you get tired of it, but until someone beats them, then they're allowed to say that league is the top."

And with Alabama and LSU playing in next week's BCS championship game, the SEC's reign will last for at least another 365 days.

"One of the things I really believe is 'If you [have] done it, you ain't bragging.'" Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said. "They've done it. The stage is set for them again this year to get two teams into the [championship] of college football. That's a great thing for them until another conference -- I'd love it to be the Big Ten -- unseats them from a national championship stage. It is what it is."

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen saw LSU in person when the Tigers beat the Mountaineers 47-21 on Sept. 24.

"When they came to Morgantown, we had as good of an environment as I've ever seen and the people were rowdy and our fans did an unbelievable job of getting there early," Holgorsen said. "I think two hours before the game it was packed, and it was crazy. We had a tremendous amount of support and it didn't faze them one bit. They came on the field and they acted like they owned the field and played with a tremendous amount of confidence for the entire game, so they're a great football team."

Urban Meyer
New Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was still on the minds of his former players at Florida.

New Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, who guided Florida to BCS national championships in 2006 and '08 before retiring after the 2010 season, said it's up to the other leagues to catch up to the SEC.

"[It's] obvious that the SEC right now is dominant," Meyer said at his OSU introductory news conference. "It's a faster league than the Big Ten. Does it mean it's a better league? … Yeah, it's the best conference in college football.

"Does it mean the Big Ten's far behind? I don't think it's that far. I think you'll see the game change again. It changes all the time. There was a time where the Big 12 was pushing the SEC for who had the best teams. There's a lot of good stuff going into this conference. I don't think the Big Ten's that far off. I think you're going to see that gap closed -- I hope quickly."

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney added the ACC to the list of conferences narrowing the gap in terms of producing a national championship contender.

"I think it's a top-heavy conference," Swinney said of the SEC. "I think when you look [at the ACC], and the thing that we have not done is we have not produced a national champion. I think it's coming, I really do. I think it's coming in the near future.

"We've made some great strides in a lot of areas, resources, facilities, coaches, all those things, our new TV contract. All those things have allowed us to close that gap a little bit from a competitive standpoint. But they're still out front right now because they've won however many national championships now in a row. Somebody has got to knock them off. That's just the nature of competition."

Until that happens, though, college football fans will continue to hear about how SEC teams are bigger, faster and, well, better than everyone else.

Proponents of the current college FB system say it works because every game counts, every game is a playoff. Unless you are in the SEC, then you get TWO PLAYOFF games. That alleviates a lot of pressure. BIG difference when all the other conferences know they are "one and done." Lee Trevino said it best, "My mother could do it the second time." Time for a PLAYOFF and not the current SEC PAYOFF. Can't wait to see another LSU-Alabama game. Don't they play every year and now maybe twice this year? What the heck does that prove?

Erik Burkman


Hawaii

For another year, at least, SEC fans will continue their latest New Year's tradition -- preparing to watch an SEC team play for a national championship, along with eating turnip greens and black-eyed peas for fortune and good luck.

"I think it speaks volumes for the respect the SEC has," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "That comes from the quality and body of work that the conference has from top to bottom in terms of good programs, quality coaches and lots of good players."

Mark Schlabach covers college sports for ESPN.com. You can contact him at schlabachma@yahoo.com. ESPN.com bloggers Brian Bennett and Andrea Adelson contributed reporting.