Contributed by Paolo Glaudé
Tomorrow at this time we will have a NCAA Division I Football champion. We don’t know what team it will be, but one thing is for sure, a SEC team will not be a contender. This maybe shocking to some because for the previous 9 seasons the SEC was well represented in the National Championship game, falling short of holding the crystal football for the first time last year. Is the SEC still the big bad unbeatable conference that college football experts claim it to be?
Each and every August I have great things that I look forward to, a birthday and the pre-season rankings for the college football season. As usual the SEC was well represented. Eight out of the fourteen team conference filled the AP Top 25 Rankings (http://collegefootball.ap.org/poll/2014/1). The Southeastern Conference held more than a quarter of the top 25 spots with almost all of the Western Division of the conference teams. It seems that it would only be right to assume the SEC is the best football conference and would be hard to defeat. (Not sure what you wanted to say, but I tried to offer edits any way).
One might ask, what makes SEC football so dominant? Is it having the highest paid coaches, the players or the people who vote for the conference because they are the SEC’s Assistant Director of Media Relations. It is a combination. Let’s face it, this is a multi-billion dollar business that is fueled by television views, ticket sales and bowl game appearances. Disregarding the non-athletic factors, this conference has some of the fastest athletes in the world and some of the smartest, most experienced coaches to ever stand on the sidelines or sit in the skybox.
Halfway through the season, the rankings shuffled around teams like an official’s arms who was calling a false start. The SEC representation nearly shrunk in half to only 5 teams, with Mississippi State surprisingly ranked number one. The only thing that remained the same is the strong presence of the Western Division. The season ended ranking only 4 teams. Was this season telling of how other conferences are figuring out these powerhouses or are other schools just getting better?
Since the SEC is filled with top talent, teams shouldn’t have any trouble when they face non conference opponents right? That was not the case this year when it came to the bowl games. Against ranked teams the western division was a painful 2-5, suffering the lowest winning percentage of any conference in College Football. Top ranked Alabama lost to Ohio State 35-42, Auburn lost to Wisconsin 31-34, Mississippi St lost to Georgia Tech 34-49, LSU lost to Notre Dame 28-31 and possibly the most shocking loss was when Ole Miss was only able to squander a field goal against TCU falling 3-43. What most caught me by surprise is that all the teams who I thought would lose, won, such as Tennessee, Georgia and Missouri.
The bowl games this year have shown that the SEC cannot beat the strong teams of the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC or the PAC-12. I still would have liked to see how the Alabama defense would play against the fast paced offense of the Oregon Ducks. As of now we can only imagine, hope and pray for that match-up to come to reality. I have two suggestions that might make college football an unbiased, even playing field.
Firstly, don’t rank any teams until half of the season is completed. This option takes injuries and suspensions into consideration and would also make teams and coaching staffs more hungry to get to that top spot. Lastly, make schedule changes for non conference play. Mix in challenging opponents during the season to test the team’s strength and save the money/stat games for the end of the season, which will allow the inexperienced players to get some snaps between the hashmarks.
Although my thoughts are hypothetical, based on my experiences as a student athlete, working in Sports information for Alabama A&M University, watching college football every Saturday and ESPN everyday in between, I think this idea is pretty good.