SEC!!! SEC!!! SEC!!!
At the end of the each of the last seven BCS Championship Games, the victorious teams have sprinkled the “SEC!” chant in with their own school’s cheers as the head coach lifted the crystal football high in the hair (after his mandatory Gatorade bath, of course). If you didn’t know, the Southeastern Conference has been home to the best team in college football in each of the last seven seasons. To the chagrin of every sports fan north of Kentucky and west of Arkansas, the SEC has become the dominant football conference in the country. From top to bottom, it may not be the deepest conference, but the SEC’s best is better than the best of every other conference. A lot has been made about the SEC’s unparalleled run, most national sportswriters, and some local ones, proclaiming that conference affiliation has nothing to do with the teams’ individual success. But is that true?
When the whistle blows for any sporting event, it’s obvious that it’s a contest solely between the two teams on the field. What the University of Alabama did to the University of Notre Dame on Monday night came down to the coaches on the sideline and the players on the field. But, did the Crimson Tide’s run through the SEC prepare them for the bright lights of college football’s greatest stage? Most people would say no, but I think to say that playing in the SEC had no effect is a little disingenuous. Alabama had tough games against Texas A&M, LSU, Arkansas and the Iron Bowl against archrival Auburn. Sure, not every team on Bama’s schedule was a top 25 team, but part of competing in football is mental. And very few conferences, if any, can compare with the SEC’s pomp and circumstance every Saturday throughout the fall.
What most people, nationally, fail to understand is why the teams of the SEC can beat up on each other during grueling conference schedules and then support each other when post season play begins, especially in football. I think that it’s the sense of brotherhood and sisterhood that being in the Southern U.S. has fostered amongst all those that talk a little slower and with a little bit of a drawl. For instance, most of the jokes that Louisville fans make towards Kentucky fans is that the Big Blue Nation is full of backward hicks and rednecks. And I’m sure that that in Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas and all around the conference it’s the same refrain from rival fan bases. So when an SEC team excels, it’s as if we’re all winners.
You’ll hear a lot about the SEC being a football conference, and it is, but what about other sports? Looking at the last seven years, the conference is home to 7 straight football champions, 3 out of the last 7 Men’s NCAA Basketball Champions, 3 out of the last 7 Men’s College World Series Champions, and 2 out of the last 7 Women’s Basketball Champions. All of those marks are either the best in the nation over that span (Football, Men’s Basketball) or tied for the most titles (Men’s CWS). It’s obvious that the most competitive athletic conference in the nation is the Southeastern Conference.
Bottom line is that, for better or for worse, the SEC has raised the bar for athletic competition in every sport. Since 2008, an SEC team has won the national title in every major sport: Football, Men’s and Women’s Basketball, Softball, Baseball, Men’s and Women’s Track and Field. And that doesn’t even count the University of Kentucky Cheerleaders. I think it’s safe to say that things are done bigger and better in the South and, yes, we’re proud of it.