“This is not the end, this is the beginning” – Nick Saban
Following the 2010 BCS Championship Game in Pasadena, Nick Saban hoisted the Crimson Tide’s first national championship trophy since 1992. In his postgame interview on the stage, Saban uttered the above quote, which is now played in Bryant-Denny Stadium during pregame festivities.
Fast forward three years and it seems Nick Saban was correct in saying that what transpired in Rose Bowl was merely a sneak peak as to what Alabama was going to become. But I believe Saban wasn’t just speaking on behalf of his team that night; he was stating the platform for the Southeastern Conference.
A dynasty is defined in the dictionary as “a powerful group or family that maintains its position for a considerable time.” But is it too early to be calling Alabama’s three national championships in four years a dynasty?
Alabama went 10-2 in 2010, ending up in the Capital One bowl. Does that put enough of a blemish on their record to diminish the claim to a dynasty? Only time will tell if this team will be worthy of that title, but right now, I’d say they are on pace to create one.
But when it comes to the seven straight national titles by the SEC, the dictionary definition fits a little bit more. With three Alabama titles, two from Florida and one each from LSU and Auburn, all within the span of 2006-2012, that is what fits the definition of dynasty.
Undefeated Notre Dame was supposedly the best team in the country coming into this game, sitting at 12-0 and definitely battle-tested. Sure, they never faced an SEC team on their independent schedule, but they faced off with Stanford and Michigan and also had two overtime games. It was the non-SEC contingency’s best shot at taking down the big bad SEC in the championship game. And Alabama simply demolished them and picked them apart piece by piece.
Alabama’s domination over Notre Dame shows the separation of play between the SEC and the other conferences is much much wider than once thought. We knew about the streak and dominance in the BCS championship game. But this stretches much wider than just one game. This extends itself to other facets of college football.
Each of the major BCS conferences (besides the Big East and ACC) have tried to put up their best against the SEC in the championship game and have all suffered losses. The Big 10 put up Ohio State against LSU and Florida in 2006 and 2007 and lost both times. The Big 12 had Oklahoma fall to Florida in ’08 and then Texas fell to Alabama in ’09. The Pac-12 sent Oregon to Arizona, but fell to Auburn in 2010. Heck, even the SEC’s own conference champion lost to one of their own in the ’11 championship game.
And now the supposed “best” of the Independents can’t even beat the mighty mighty SEC. So who has the answer?
While you could make an argument from this year’s Sugar Bowl, when Louisville absolutely dominated Florida in New Orleans, the Big East isn’t going anywhere anytime soon as far as getting a chance to play for the crystal ball. As good as Louisville seemed in that game, they still suffered bad losses late in the season. A Big East team isn’t going to make the championship game for quite a while, even under the new playoff system that will be instituted after next year.
Even the ACC will have trouble making it big as well. Their best shot was Florida State, who disappointed in a lot of ways this year despite winning the title and taking down NIU in the Orange Bowl. Clemson beat LSU this year, but the Tigers didn’t play to SEC standards, that’s for sure.
Right now there is no definitive answer to the major question of college football. The SEC is ten steps ahead of everybody else and that’s not even an exaggeration. The SEC wins in terms of recruiting, level of play and winning big games. That is absolute fact. What Nick Saban is building Alabama is a great and powerful program. The only thing standing in their way? The other SEC teams eager to get a shot at kissing the crystal ball.
The question isn’t really who will take down the powerful SEC and steal the championship; it’s whether the other conferences will even catch up to the SEC any time soon.
What do we know now? This isn’t the end of the SEC’s dominance of college football. This is just the beginning.
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