Friday , 21 October 2016

Mike Albanese: SEC’s Reign of College Football Dominance Ends

sec logoIf you live by the sword, you will die by the sword.

And for the Southeastern Conference champion Auburn Tigers, their luck finally ran out Monday, falling to Florida State University 34-31 at the Rose Bowl in the BCS National Championship game.

Wasn’t it ironic, though, that the college football player who broke the hearts and sent remotes flying across the living rooms of Alabama football fans (this one included) was the player that ripped the heart out of every Auburn fan’s chest.

Chris Davis Jr., who returned a last-second missed field goal 109 yards against Alabama for the 34-28 victory, was called for pass interference in the end zone with 17 seconds left and the Tigers leading 31-27.

mike albanese column mugAuburn was just mere seconds separated from its second national title since 2010, but it wasn’t meant to be as the Seminoles would cash in moments later.

I have to say, when the flags were thrown, and I saw the number on the back of that orange-and-blue-trimmed uniform was No. 11, a small smile came across my face.

“Now, that’s karma for you,” I thought to myself as I worked my way through a bag of Lay’s while taking down a Pabst.

A feeling of gratitude surged through my body for a few moments, knowing those guys from that Cow College down South (as some people from Tuscaloosa would call them) were put in their place after their miraculous stake through the hearts of the Crimson Tide.

But as devoted as I am to the Tide, however, that feeling of gratitude was soon replaced by a sense of disappointment and sadness.

Auburn’s loss Monday ended perhaps the greatest run that any conference has put together in the modern era. After seven straight seasons of national champions, the BCS winner didn’t come from the SEC.

The SEC’s dominant run started back in 2006 when Florida dominated Ohio State 41-14, which was followed up by another beatdown of the Buckeyes, this time by the hands of LSU, 38-24.

The Urban Meyer-led Gators would defeat Oklahoma 24-14 in 2008, soon to be followed by an Alabama victory over Texas in 2009 and an Auburn win over Oregon in 2010.

The years 2011 and 2012 were owned by the Tide, as they defeated LSU and then thoroughly dominated Notre Dame 42-14.

Each time the SEC took the field against a team from the Pac-12, Big 10 or the Big 12, the game appeared over before it started.

Notre Dame didn’t belong in the same zip code as Alabama back in 2012, and that Oregon team that was touted to be one of the most athletic and fastest teams, possibly ever, was dominated by an Auburn defense that finished the season ranked 54th in total defense, giving up more than 370 yards-per-game.

And I know people in Texas say, “Well, Alabama wouldn’t have won if Colt McCoy would’ve played the whole game.”

No, they wouldn’t have.

Of all three of Alabama’s title winning teams the past few seasons, the 2009 version is still the most complete team in my mind, and arguably the best of the seven SEC teams during that run.

Looking back through the history of college football, the SEC’s dominant run is the most impressive era of dominance from a conference, or a singular team for that matter.

This recent run overshadows those Miami Hurricane teams in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and the Tom Osborne-led Nebraska Cornhuskers pale in comparison.

Not even the Oklahoma Sooners of the mid 1950’s, led by legendary coach Bud Wilkinson, that won a Division I-record 47 consecutive games from 1953 to 1957, can be considered in the same league, as those Sooner teams won just two national titles.

So while it all came to an end Monday in Pasadena under a shower of garnet and gold tickertape, let’s all take a moment and reflect upon what we have witnessed the past seven years.

And while many people cheered against the SEC for a variety of reasons, one cannot deny the dominance it displayed.

Although we may not realize it now, we will look back on this era 10 years from now and finally give those teams from Florida, Alabama, Auburn and LSU the respect they rightfully deserve.

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