From The Editor’s Desk: Is SEC Dominance Good For College Football?

Dec 3, 2011; Atlanta, GA, USA; A detailed view of an SEC logo on a yard marker during the first half of the 2011 SEC championship game between the LSU Tigers and the Georgia Bulldogs at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

SaturdayBlitz.com editors Kyle Kensing (hey, that’s me!) and Luke Brietzke discussed a pressing topic for college football: is SEC dominance a good thing?

The conference has won the last seven straight BCS championships. If the Alabama Crimson Tide is as good as advertised throughout 2013, the SEC will make it eight in a row.

Different sports and different leagues always have dynasties, but the SEC’s is unlike anything seen in team sports since the Montreal Canadiens took ownership of the Stanley Cup through the late 1960s into the much of the ’70s.

So is SEC dominance good for college football? We discuss.

Luke Brietzke

Having someone to root for – or, in this case, against in most circles – will never be a bad thing for college football. At least it’s never bad so long as there is real resolution.

Fans want to see greatness. To a point.

Then they want to see the underdogs create a new-world order.

Think back on the great upsets of previous decades.

Remember Boston College taking down No. 1 Notre Dame with a last-second field goal in 1993.

Remember Arizona humbling Miami in the 1994 Fiesta Bowl.

Think back on the great Nebraska teams flattening the Spurrier swagger teams at Florida or Arizona State ending Nebraska’s run in the mid-90s.

Florida State and USC dominated in the 90s and 2000s, respectively, until Virginia dropped the Seminoles and Oregon State and Stanford slowed the Trojan roll.

College football is better when power programs are dominant. It’s at its best when elite teams create enormous upsets.

The SEC isn’t as dominant as it has been in recent years. It is still the best conference in the league – just not by as much.

What the SEC has done is give all college football fans a lightning rod. The SEC is the late-80s, early-90s Notre Dame. If you love the Fighting Irish, you loved the glory days. If you didn’t, you watched every Saturday to see if someone could take down Lou Holtz’ team.

The only way in which the recent SEC dominance has been bad for college football is in the annoyed debates. Ask fans of the Pac-12, Big 12 or Big Ten about the SEC’s dominance.

If you really want to have some fun, ask fans of those conferences about it in front of SEC fans, sit back, enjoy your beer and watch the fireworks.

On a week-to-week basis, there is no Boston College that can topple Notre Dame.

The SEC plays itself. Sometimes the league cannibalizes itself. For the most part, though, it has generated enough benefit of the doubt that one-loss SEC teams are spoken in the same vein as undefeated teams from other conferences.

There’s no way for SEC dominance to get upset – until the BCS National Championship Game. Even if an SEC team doesn’t get there, the myriad sports debate shows would play the hypothetical of SEC champ vs. whoever lifts the BCS crystal ball – and favor the SEC.

With no on-field determination, fans of both sides lean on ridiculous hypothetical debate. They weigh who would win between Maryland and Ole Miss. And it’s a game that isn’t coming.

So-called SEC dominance has created more interest in the league and in the sport in general. Just look at the television ratings – especially of SEC games. To that end, it has been great for the sport.

Otherwise, it has simply fueled an already over-polluted culture of obscure, meaningless debate.

Kyle Kensing

S-E-C! S-E-C!

Be perfectly honestly: unless you are a Southeastern Conference honk, that chant has the same spine-tingling effect on you as nails on a chalkboard or Styrofoam against cardboard. Gah, the latter makes me cringe just thinking about it.

And so does the awful “S-E-C!” chant fans of the conference’s programs belt out whenever they beat an outsider opponent.

For a conference that has been as superior as the SEC in the last seven seasons, some of its fans suffer from a serious inferiority complex.

Maybe it’s because SEC fans and propagandists recognize the tremendous good fortune that has propagated the conference’s national title streak. In 2006, for example, Oklahoma was effectively kept out of the BCS championship game against Ohio State by a badly blown call at Oregon.

The next year, two-loss LSU backed its way into a home game championship appearance against what was the weakest of the one-loss teams entering the regular season’s final week. And in 2008, the BCS “computers” gifted Florida a matchup with Oklahoma in the title game, instead of a USC team boasting one of the best defenses in college football history with a recent track record of making mincemeat of SEC competition.

Jan 9, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron (10) drops back to pass during the BCS National Championship against the LSU Tigers at the Louisiana Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-US PRESSWIRE

Jan 9, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron (10) drops back to pass during the BCS National Championship against the LSU Tigers at the Louisiana Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-US PRESSWIRE


Perhaps there are lingering insecurities because the “us against the world” mentality was exposed as nothing more than pure cognitive dissonance when the first single-conference title game was contrived in 2011. Alabama was rewarded for the strength of a loss over a team, Oklahoma State, that beat more ranked opponents. The smoke-and-mirrors streak was guaranteed to extend at that point.

Whatever motivation there is for fans to chant the name of a conference, instead of its team moniker, it’s absolutely good for the sport.

Literature and film rely on strong antagonists to further the narrative. Likewise, the SEC has become the central villain of college football. That its “dominance” is at least partially manufactured only makes its villainy that much more intriguing.

Topics: Alabama Crimson Tide, Florida Gators, Football, Louisiana State Tigers

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  • Mary Waltman

    What would it matter…SEC, Big 10, Big 12, ACC or whatever?

  • Chris Foosman

    The bigger question is “are the things the SEC is doing to become dominant in football good for colleges as others (like Florida State or Oregon) try to replicate?” The answer is clearly “no.” The most successful state is Alabama, which boasts a 24% functional illiteracy rate. I have often said the reason school administrators at all institutions in the state dump so much money into football (even Troy and UAB) is because 1/4 of the state would never endorse funding something they and their children will probably never attend otherwise. Florida cut a program out of their computer science department (why not? It’s not like computers are going anywhere anyway?) and then increased funding to their football team by the same amount. We are about to see it move to other states that want to compete for national titles. I think the NCAA really needs to do a gut check about what is important and get the new “facilities” spending, book buybacks, and other hidden incentives under control or it risks having the worst academic institutions being the only ones on television.

    • Kyle Kensing

      Great comment, Chris and a very thought provoking point. Definitely something for deeper discussion, no doubt about it. Is the answer to striking athletic and academic balance a Div. III model?

      • Chris Foosman

        I played DIII football a decade ago. They offer no scholarships, but I got a surprising amount of scholarships for maintaining a 3.0 GPA. There is some indication the drive to do well at all cost is seeping down to DIII. The locker room I used had all the pizzazz of the one from Hoosiers. They just put in one I imagine would make flagship state schools proud. I think part of it is keeping alumni happy (because they’re the ones who donate on non-fixed schedules and have a big say in whether the dean is hired or fired) as well as making sure students know the school is “legitimate” because for profits have no football team that has been in the paper.

        I think what has to happen is the NCAA is going to have to loosen requirements on what football players do in their free time and spend more time crafting enforceable rules and regulations that make a winning football team less about a cash arms race and more about letting as many schools as possible have a shot at the championship. Look at the NFL. Only a few teams are out of the hunt on day one. Entire conferences know they have no shot on day one of the college season. I think there also needs to be an understanding that these are academic institutions, not minor league sports teams. A big help to that would be making all full ride scholarships a commitment to 4 years of free schooling. The current system allows schools to recruit more kids each year than they have scholarships for, essentially making them play for their livelihood while in school. New coach wants to install the spread and you’re a fullback? Good luck buddy.

        • Chris Foosman

          And if you express any of these ideas in the state of Alabama to Tide fans of grads, they will tell you that you are just jealous that your state hasn’t won a championship in 70 years or whatever it is. I live in the south, but I’m originally from the Midwest. College football is something I casually watched there, but watch here because it is what everyone is in to. I don’t care who wins, I just think the system needs changed for the games and the educational system.