Unilaterally at first glance, Alabama and Auburn fans aren’t going to like this statement: y’all are a lot more like each other than you want to admit.
Step back from the horror for a second. There is good news, too.
The reason y’all are together on this thing is for a good reason, mostly because of Alabama, but also partially because of Auburn … you’re carrying the SEC.
Whether you’re a strident proponent of SEC strength as the beginning and the end of college football, one thing has to be admitted: you’re riding the backs of the State of Alabama in this one lately.
The last seven postseason championships have either featured a team from Alabama winning (five of seven years) or a team from Alabama playing for the title (Auburn lost the final BCS Championship game to Florida State; Alabama lost in the first CFB Playoff to Ohio State).
That’s an astonishing figure coming from one state, one that is clearly carrying the narrative of a region that has strangled college football for the better part of the century in many folks’ minds, be it fact or fiction in reality.
The two have danced remarkably different paths on the way there, but the end result is Alabama … which is rarely mentioned in other national sports things non-racing mostly because it lacks a professional team of any kind … has taken over the college football world and put it in the shed in its backyard.
Since 2002, Auburn has gone 9-3 in bowl games. Since 1991, Alabama has gone 14-7. Those haven’t been the Sprite Zero Bowl sponsored in part by Red Dog where Savage Garden is the only group willing to sing the national anthem, held in Juneau against some MAC team. Since 2008, the Tide have finished all of one season not in a BCS or CFB Playoff bowl game, and that was a 49-7 paddling of Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl in 2010.
Meanwhile, let’s look at a few other prominent SEC teams. Since 2002, LSU has gone 8-6 in bowl games, including 3-4 in their last seven during the State of Alabama Run (SAR, for purposes of this article) began in 2008.
Since 1999, Florida has gone 8-8, but a sturdy 5-2 since the SAR. Georgia has gone 4-3 in that time, none of which were BCS or CFB Playoff games. Part of that not being in many BCS or Playoff bowls is because the SEC East keeps losing to the SEC West, specifically and obviously, Alabama parts of the SEC West.
At one point, the SEC was awash with pretty girls at every end of the room. Then, a few went off to college and got a little too much into that pizza at 2 a.m. lifestyle. The came back, and there were Alabama and Auburn, one an 15 on a scale of 1-10 and the other pulling her weight as a 9.5.
Lost in all the adoration of southern football and the myth or rationalization (to each his own) of its dominance has been the extreme bias that success comes from at the leg work of one particular state below the Mason-Dixon line. Alabama and Auburn are showing up at the monthly meetings having met the sales quota so far ahead for the company, that the guys who can’t sell water to a man in the desert are benefiting from the lunch party the unit gets when they meet their numbers.
This isn’t to say the remainder of the SEC has been a bunch of slugs. Look at this past bowl season, where the conference went a pristine 9-2. It comes off of a year when they were laughed at a bit nationally by those tired of a worn out, non-nuanced narrative of one group dominating all the others and getting the spoils of it annually, going 7-5 but 2-5 against ranked teams, including high profile losses in the Peach and Sugar bowls and a losing record against Big Ten teams.
Always said in this spot … things are cyclical and they change, annually. That said, the run by the State of Alabama teams is remarkable, especially in what’s dubbed as such a bloodless, competitive region when it comes to recruiting. Thank Nick Saban for much of it, but don’t forget that Auburn has done their fair share to keep things humming as well.
Roll Tide, War Eagle, whatever … but “SEC RULES” guy probably has a different statement to chant and can include both of them: Thank You.