Alabama and Nick Saban Are National Champions … Not Every Other School In The SEC

The SEC owns college football – and has owned it for seven years.

This is the popular narrative in the wake of Alabama’s brutal 42-14 beat down of the #1 ranked Fighting Irish in last night’s BCS Title Game.

So…what’s this have to do with the SEC?

Actually not a whole lot, beyond the obvious.

But if you spent even five minutes on Facebook or Twitter last night, you were probably informed otherwise.

Alabama’s Dominance

Alabama’s dominance was clear to anyone with two eyes who sat in front of the television screen.

Their overall team speed was as good as advertised.

nick-saban-alabama

Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide dominated Notre Dame in every way imaginable. (Image credit: John David Mercer, USA TODAY Sports)

On the few occasions that Everett Golson tucked the ball and tried to run, Notre Dame fans saw something that they hadn’t seen against any team all year: he wasn’t able to escape. Alabama’s skill players ran laps around Notre Dame’s hapless secondary, forcing AJ McCarron to make exactly two difficult throws the entire game – both out routes which were easily completed.

Alabama controlled the game with size and strength. Notre Dame’s front seven, a group that many thought was the best in the nation, simply got manhandled. The Irish couldn’t even stop the rush after pulling an extra safety up into the box, and Heisman runner-up Manti Te’o looked like he forgot how to tackle.

The Tide rolled from start to finish. The game was never in doubt, and Alabama deservedly hoisted their third trophy in four years.

I’ll ask again: what’s this have to do with the SEC?

Because apparently it has everything to do with the SEC.

Viewers of last night’s game actually watched as the crowd in Miami started chanting, “SEC! SEC! SEC!”

Notre Dame fans were accosted by Tigers, Gamecocks, Bulldogs, and Aggies.

The SEC was celebrated, the Irish were ridiculed, and the entire night turned into a celebration of an entire region of the country – no matter how much the different parts of that region allegedly hate each other.

This is what’s so odd about SEC fans. And being from the Midwest, I will probably never understand it.

Do Rivalries Even Matter in the SEC?

I am very well acquainted with a lot of Michigan and Ohio State fans. The South mocks their rivalry and claims that “nobody down here even realizes that y’all play each other.”

Maybe they’re right, but this is what I know: if Ohio State was to play Oregon in the National Championship next season, not a single Michigan fan would peruse the internet looking to troll Ducks fans because of the ensuing “Big Ten victory.”

In fact, I’m pretty sure that the Michigan fan would be pulling hard AGAINST the Buckeyes and might even buy an Oregon shirt for the night.

You see, in the Midwest, rivalries mean something. A Michigan fan could never pull himself to root for Ohio State – under any circumstances.

The idea that Buckeyes fans would start chanting, “Big Ten! Big Ten! Big Ten!” in the waning minutes of a title game is simply preposterous.

Last night should have been a celebration of Nick Saban – a coach who has pulled off the greatest achievement in the modern era of coaching.

At this point, giving Nick Saban a month to prepare for a game should be outlawed. Just last year, the Crimson Tide demolished a team that had just submitted the greatest regular season in the history of college football. Last season’s national championship was not much closer than this year’s.

The only difference is that this year we were greeted with agonized cries from SEC fans for a playoff because Notre Dame was “so overrated” and “didn’t belong.”

Maybe this all stems from 2004 – when Auburn actually went undefeated in the SEC and didn’t even get invited to play in the national championship.

If you will recall, the entire South raised a hissy fit (by the way, they were right in their assessment) that a team could win the SEC and finish outside of the Top 2. Ever since then, the SEC and its fans have had a chip on their shoulders. From that point on, SEC fans have felt that it was them against the world. They have crusaded, advocated, and postulated that simply being a member of the SEC automatically necessitates your respect.

In a way, being a member of the SEC has become a sort of liability insurance for its members – if you go through the season unscathed, there is no doubt you are the best team in the land…and if you are terrible, it’s simply because you belong to the SEC.

As a friend of mine so aptly put it: “The very idea of Florida or Auburn winning a national championship should make a Georgia fan break out in hives…but typically, he doesn’t see it that way.”

The Problems With SEC Over-Pride

The problem with this entire philosophy is two-fold.

First of all, there is no need to fight for respect any longer.

I don’t know a single college football fan who would argue against the SEC being the best conference in the nation. The SEC is given so much respect that a team that didn’t even play in its own conference championship game last season easily marched into the National Championship games.

At this point, SEC fans fighting for respect are akin to Michael Jordan feeling slighted about the Leroy Smith incident.  It may make a person feel better, but it is completely unnecessary and childish.

The second problem is that if you take out Alabama, the SEC simply isn’t that dominant. It’s not just that Alabama has won three of the four national championships for the SEC, but that the rest of the SEC simply hasn’t performed that well against non-conference opponents.  If you take out Alabama, the SEC is a surprisingly mediocre 14-12 in bowl games since 2010.  The most dominant conference in college football is barely above .500.

Just this year, the SEC went 4-3 in Bowl games, with losses to Northwestern, Clemson, and Louisville – all members of conferences that SEC fans mock. It might be even more fair to classify them as 3-3, since Texas A&M is still practically a Big 12 team, having just entered the SEC this season.

Two other wins came against a 6-7 Pitt team and a last second victory over Michigan – a team whose offense was completely manhandled by Alabama earlier this season.

The Georgia Bulldogs handily beat Nebraska, and from the looks of it, are probably the second best team in the country.

But what about Tennessee, Auburn, Kentucky, and Missouri? SEC fans would have you believe that those teams would win the Big Ten outright…but that’s simply untrue.

Alabama is a dynasty. Nick Saban is one of the greatest coaches in college football history. Alabama fans should celebrate and enjoy their victory.

But Tigers, Bulldogs, Volunteers, and Gamecocks fans should probably look inside themselves. Why are you so happy? If cheering vicariously through your rival really makes you feel that much better and more vindicated, more power to you. But stop pretending like your rivalries actually mean something.

Stop fooling yourselves. The rest of the country isn’t jealous of you. We’re just sick of the hypocrisy.



About Jon Washburn

Jon Washburn grew up in Indianapolis, IN and as such, is a diehard Pacers, Colts, and Cubs fans. When it comes to college, he cheers for Notre Dame football fan and Purdue basketball. Yes, this sounds shady, but since he grew up without cable, he learned to love Notre Dame - the only team on TV. Glenn "The Big Dog" Robinson was at Purdue when Jon was in his formative years, so he latched onto them as well. Did that make him a fair-weather fan at the time? Sure. Give him a break...he was 8...and he has stayed with those teams ever since. Currently, he lives in Charleston, SC with his wife who grew up in Cleveland. Although he is no longer physically in the Midwest, his heart will always be there. Jon goes by the name "Twitch" because he has Tourette's Syndrome. Hit him up on his twitter @jwtwitch.

Comments

  1. Poor Jon Washburn is bitter that the SEC won’t let anyone else win a National Championship. You maybe should have waited a couple days after your team lost before trashing our conference. There is always next year Jon… Yeah, right.

    I am a GA Bulldawg and was happy that the team that beat us won the championship. This is why SEC cheers for each other. Except for the Gators. Friends don’t let friends cheer for Florida.

    We hate each other when playing each other but cheer for SEC over the rest of the country. There isn’t any other conference that can come close to Bama and Georgia right now. With our QB coming back, I hope my dawgs have an even better season next year!

    SEC team won and all is right in the world!

    • pointlessscreenname says:

      Your points completely validate his article. I think this isn’t about school pride or even conference pride. It more than likely is about “Southern” pride. Something everyone else in the country “doesn’t get” by most annecdotal remarks I’ve been told. If Jon Washburn is bitter the SEC won’t let anyone else win a National Championship (in football), then I think “the south” is still bitter they lost the war…

  2. You reference that this feeling stems from the undefeated 2004 Auburn season. I think it also stems from the 2006 season when Michigan and Ohio State were ranked #1 and #2 and played to a 41-38 (or thereabouts) in the annual rivalry game. Much discussion came after that game that both teams should play again for the national title because it was clear that Michigan and Ohio State were the best two teams in the country in the BCS game….Then Ohio State got dismantled by Florida. 6 years later – nothing but “told you so” thereafter.

    That game also convinced everyone that in most cases the SEC Champion deserves to be in the BCS title game.

    • Jon Washburn says:

      This is a great point, Jim, and I wish I would have considered it in my article. The Michigan/Ohio State game and ensuing blowout was probably the true tilting point of national respect towards SEC.

  3. Jon Washburn says:

    Alabama is a dominant team.
    The rest of the SEC has been no more dominant than Texas, Ohio State, Oregon, or other national powers.
    As for you cheering for every other team in the SEC by proxy, you are more than welcome to do that. Just stop saying that your conference has real rivalries – because any fan that cheers for its “rival” out of conference loyalty simply doesn’t understand what a real rivalry is.

    • We most certainly can have real rivalries (Georgia vs Florida, Bama vs Auburn). The only difference is that we’re smart enough to realize that if someone defeats our rival, it only makes us look worse. When another conference can win 7 BCS national championships in a row, we’ll be more than happy to acknowledge that they might be as good as us.

      • pointlessscreenname says:

        There it is again… “us”. You try to disagree then within two sentences forget the statement you just made.Clearly not a rivaly or a sense of individualism if you keep referring to the group of mediocre teams and the few completely amazing teams as us.

        • If it was just one SEC team winning national championships you might have a point, but the fact of the matter is that 5 separate SEC teams have taken the title since 1998 for a combined total of 9 out of 16 national championships. The next conference down has only won 2! That is why the SEC is a powerhouse and all the other conferences are mediocre. Can’t deal with it? Quit watching football.

          • pointlessscreenname says:

            This article isn’t even about if the SEC is or isn’t a powerhouse conference. It’s about how the SEC doesn’t understand what a true rivalry is. Anyone who thinks they aren’t dominating college football currently is obviously fooling themselves. That isn’t even the point here. The SEC pride, is clearly an extension of “southern pride”. If you have a true rivalry you take joy in watching your rival suffer, at vitually any expense (only hicks would cheer at an injured player). If I was a UM alumnus, why would I want OSU to ever do well? I want my team to be better, and to say ‘if we would have been there we could have won! But those Buckeyes stink, so of corse they’ll lose!’

  4. Johnny Football says:

    You said it best here “And being from the Midwest, I will probably never understand it.” Thats it. You won’t understand.

  5. Considering that the SEC had 6 top ten teams at the end of the regular season, 6 teams with 10 wins or more( most in any conference), and 5 teams finishing in the top 10 means that all of the SEC teams are overrated? All of the major SEC players are finishing consistantly in the top 15 year to year, and increasing their rankings year to year. If you want to judge the SEC based on bowl wins, then you are one sided. Any team can win any game at any given time, especially if they have weeks to prepare. I think there is some bias in your comments. If Alabama wasnt playing consistantly good teams in their own conference, they might not be as strong as they are. You have to beat the best, to be the best. The SEC is consistantly the best. I cheered for the SEC victory, because i know that in order for Alabama to win, they had to beat a lot of great SEC teams(and some bad ones) to get there.

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