As the SEC readies for its 20th annual conference championship game, it’s becoming more and more obvious just how much better football is in the Deep South. We’re not just talking about the product, either. From fan passion to excitement to plain ol’ luck, no other region or conference can compete.
The SEC Championship Game features an undefeated LSU team that’s ranked #1 in the country against a Georgia team riding a 10-game winning streak. Even if LSU loses, the Tigers will likely face Alabama in the BCS Championship Game. Some say that renders this year’s title game moot. Not exactly.
In reality, if Georgia upsets LSU in a tight game, the Bulldogs will join the Tigers and Tide in BCS action. An SEC title would insure then that the Dawgs will slide right into the Sugar Bowl, complete with its $17 million payout. An irrelevant game? Seventeen mil will be riding on it. That’s hardly irrelevant.
Not to mention this fact: If Georgia beats LSU and the Tigers go on to face the Tide in the BCS title game, the SEC can literally say that it’s so tough a league even the national champion couldn’t win it. Think about that one.
Meanwhile, copy-cat title games from copy-cat leagues have been flops for the most part.
The ACC has had one empty venue after another for its championship game. Fact: If you have to put tarp down to cover seats at your Jacksonville title game… it’s not a great way to show off your league.
The Big 12 saw one national title contender after another fall victim to upset before it did away with its game this season.
Saturday, the Pac-12 will launch a title game. In order to guarantee a full stadium, that league decided to play the game at a host team’s stadium. Worse, the inaugural game will feature a 6-6 UCLA team that is already set to fire its coach and might leave its game at Oregon with a losing record. Embarrassing.
And now the funniest mess of all — the Big Ten is actually using a Craig’s List ad to fill seats at its inaugural title game in Indianapolis. For those who’ve forgotten, Michigan State beat Wisconsin on a Hail Mary pass the first time the two teams met. Now no one cares. Someone — the Big Ten says it’s not them — is paying $75 a person for “seat fillers” who’ll get “an exciting opportunity to be paid to see a live sporting event!”
Fans around the country may tire of hearing it, but when it comes to college football, nothing compares to the SEC.
Paying people to attend your first-ever title game? Legends and Leaders indeed.