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This Is SEC Country

January 18, 2011 - Al Stephenson
I'm back. The weather in Florida was just fine (a few degrees warmer would not have hurt) and four rounds of golf were very much enjoyed. It's always great to get back home. I missed my wife - and, of course, the dog. To be honest though, I would go back in a second if the opportunity presented itself.

Florida is an interesting place. It is, as you know in the middle of SEC country. I have spent a week in January in the Sunshine State for the last nine years and each time I was there when the NCAA football national championship game was played. I was in Lehigh Acres in 2006 when Florida dismantled my Ohio State Buckeyes. I got my fill of gator chops as my buddies and I watched the game from a restautant/bar. You have to give me credit though, as I was the only Buckeye fan left when the final whistle sounded. My friends quietly found their way back to our nearby motel rooms when determining the winner was no longer an issue.

The following year it was another lopsided defeat at the hands of LSU. That year we were located in the Villages at a place called McCall's. There were an equal number of Buckeye and Tiger fans as the residents of the Villages come from all over the country. We didn't take near as much heat, but the resounding defeat was no easier to take.

This year we watched Auburn and Oregon with no real interest in the score of the game, but we are sports fans so we tuned in. The game was not the shootout that was expected, but the score was close and the game went down to the wire. A couple of days later I was reading a column written by a sportswriter that extolled the virtues of SEC football. I couldn't find anything in the piece that I could argue with. The story suggested that the SEC is king when it comes to college football. When you look at the facts - it's true.

Since Ohio State won the title in 2002, eight national championship games have been played and the SEC has won 6 of them. Only USC in 2004 and Texas in 2005 have broken the string. That also means that SEC schools have won the last five title matches and perhaps the most significant part of the story is that four different schools have brought the hardware back to the Deep South. That is just amazing.

If one or even two schools had won those five titles, one could make an excuse that it just happened to be a school from that conference that was the dominant program of the era. But Florida (twice), LSU, Alabama and Auburn have each earned a trophy and there is no other conference in the country that can claim to have four schools that are capable of winning all the marbles. Sorry Big Ten fans, but it's true. The SEC is the premier conference in the country these days when it comes to football.

Will this trend continue? Possibly, but their is hope. As of last week Duke was the only ACC school ranked in the top 25 basketball teams in the nation. Who would have thunk that could happen?

The view from my seat suggests that we give the SEC it's due. Then we see what can be done to upset them. Adding quickness to teams to combat that seeming advantage for the SEC might help. Waiting for the law of averages to catch up could be a tactic. Or how about a playoff system. At this point in time, pairing the best of the SEC with the best from the rest of the nation seems like the formula for the title game. A four or eight team playoff whereby a team has to win more than one game to get the trophy, might be our best chance.

Until someone can dethrone them however, I doff my cap to the SEC.


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