Ed. Note: Hey guys, I’d like to introduce our newest writer, Stephen Murphey. Stephen joins us on staff after writing the very famous Monday Morning? Backup Punter column last season. He’ll now be reprising his weekly column on staff, so be sure to welcome Stephen! — Ben & Cade
“Contrariwise, if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic.” - Lewis Carroll
These words, spoken by Tweedledee and Tweedledum in Through the Looking Glass, provide an ever-so-insightful glimpse into today’s state of affairs in college football. Bear with me, I know there are some out there that truly have no idea what is going on right now, (and we welcome you to From the Rumble Seat, your home of all things Georgia Tech related), but by the end of my musings here today, you’ll get what was spoken by the twins.
If it was so, it might be
2006 was the beginning of an incredible run for the SEC as a conference. 7 straight national champions. Albeit, the state of Alabama did win 4 of the 7, but as a whole, the conference was strong. National media were crazed for “the most competitive league in the country.” We’ll give you that. Y’all were good.
Week after week, the strong beat up the strong, and Alabama and company stood tall in the polls after incurring tough losses and gritty performances in the face of ever-intensifying schedules. It was a good time to ride a wave of momentum that saw massive revenues come in to the SEC, and a near-perpetual hype train stroke the tender egos held within the walls of schools where everything “just meant more.”
But quietly, the leaders of the CFB universe took their eyes off their rear view mirror and didn’t notice that some of the teams behind them were making aggressive moves to make up for the ground they had lost.
But for the sake of argument, let’s say the SEC still is the best conference. ‘Bama is still crushing those in their path (they’ve won 112 games since 2008... [Foreigner]). Hardly anyone can compete with them week in and week out. The rest of the SEC West fields teams that beat each other up to the point that it is often really difficult to tell who the second-best team is. It truly is fun to watch. They play a brand of football that is smash-mouth, big boy ball, and it makes for great TV. Add in the atmospheres and sundresses that thrive in the South, and it’s a sight to behold. But let me pull you away from whatever daydreams you’re currently having to whisper something in your ear:
“All good things must come to an end.”
If it were so, it would be
The reign of terror that the SEC was unleashing on the rest of the country seemed like it would never end. In 2011’s Week 12 BCS poll, the Top 3 consisted of LSU, Alabama, and Arkansas. There was no stopping them. [Huey Lewis and the News], two SEC teams played for the BCS title that season...
That was until a man who went by the pseudonym @Jaboowins rolled into town and shut that [Sting] down. FSU raced off to 13-0 in the 2013 season, and toppled the Team of Destiny iteration of Auburn’s varsity squad in the last BCS championship game ever. Since that time, there have been 4 different teams to hoist the National Championship Trophy. And in this same period of time, the narrative has started to shift. The landscape of power now stretches coast to coast, and the SEC cannot claim to be the sole source of national championship contention.
To paraphrase the True American Idol, Toby Keith:
“You ain’t as good as you once was.”
But as it isn't, it ain't.
Since Alabama began its renaissance, the SEC has continued to make the same fatal error. They drive away what they have in lust of more, always chasing Tricky Nicky. Urban Meyer, Steve Spurrier, Les Miles, Bobby Petrino (not by his choosing), Mark Richt, Phillip Fulmer, Gene Chizik, and James Franklin are all now no longer in the SEC. Some left for greener pastures, some retired, and others were fired for not being/beating Saban. This process of chasing “The Process” has enveloped the SEC, and they won’t be satisfied until they are all at the top. Even in the impeccable SEC West, somebody does have to finish last...
And what has emerged from this is the rebirth of a dozen or so programs who had previously been in a downswing. They are back now with one goal in mind: restoring their good name. And to unseat a narrative, you must prove it wrong time and again. In big games, the SEC’s name has been marred, with Alabama standing currently as the only team to truly be a title contender when viewed through the eyes of a realist. While some would argue that the SEC can be propped up by one team, the rest of the nation disagrees with you. Two quick case studies to debunk the narrative:
- In 2016, the SEC in games excluding Alabama, went 9-13 in their P5 out of conference schedule, their worst since going 9-14 in 2002.
- From Week 1 of the 2006 season up until the TaxSlayer bowl to end the 2014 season, Tennessee was 1-7 in out of conference play against Power 5 opponents. To their credit, they have now closed the gap to 5-8.
I’d come up with a conference-wide chant too if the coattails were long enough for everyone to grab on to...
I’ll close here with a thought exercise:
Who’s the best SEC coach that currently is not either a) on the hot seat b) within his first two seasons as a head coach or c) Nick Saban?
Let me know in the comments section, I got Dan Mullen over Mark Stoops.