So How Did This "Conference Pride" Thing Ever Get Started?

Damon WildmanCorrespondent IJanuary 7, 2009

With the BCS National Championship game quickly descending upon us, the debate as to who or which conference is the best will either be answered after the game or will set off even more disagreement.

I tell you, I can not remember a year that the question as to which conference is best or worse has been more hotly debated, talked about, and had as many conferences still in the discussions.

Is it the SEC, who is going for their third National Championship, or is it the Big 12 with their slew of top-ranked teams? How about the Pac-10, who went 5-0 in their bowl games? And let's not forget the upstart MWC, with the only unbeaten team in the nation.

From Brent Mussberger proclaiming the Pac-10 the winners, to ESPN's majority sports idiots proclaiming the Big 12 superior, to CBS' love fest with the SEC and all the stats and arguments on this site, as well as the whole World Wide Web, it's enough to make me wonder.

When, or how, did all this madness get started?!

It's just plumb silly! Is there any end to all the madness?

The better question, which I have read asked on here by others is, "if it's not your team who wins, then who cares?"

I honestly do not know the answer.

My team, Alabama, was embarrassed by a MWC team and I guess my vote goes to Utah.

Oh Wait! This is about who the best conference is and how it got to be such a hot topic, not who the best team is. Sorry!

What got me to thinking though—which can be dangerous, you know—is when did this entire conference pride thing get started?

I have been keeping up with 'Bama football since the late 60's—the earliest I can remember—and we never, ever thought about how the conference was doing or did. I don't recall it ever being a subject when a discussion come up about 'Bama, or any other college football team for that matter.

The last time a conference won three straight National Championships was back when the SEC won three-in-a-row with 'Bama winning in '78, '79, and Georgia winning it in '80.

But I don't ever recall crowing about the SEC winning three-in-a-row!

Yeah, I bragged about 'Bama winning two-in-a-row, but the only thing I remember about Georgia winning in '80 was them beating Notre Dame.

And yes, I pulled for Georgia to beat Notre Dame. Find a 'Bama fan who didn't and I will show you someone who has a severe case of hatred for Georgia! But no one I remember crowed about the SEC winning three-in-a-row!

There were a lot more independent schools back then, just as Notre Dame is now, but that was never a problem that I can recall.

There was always the conference champion bowl tie-ins with the Big 10 and Pac-10 (or was it Pac-8 back then, my memory is fading), to the Rose Bowl. The SEC Champion later in the 70's got tied in with the Sugar Bowl, as did the Big 8 with the Orange Bowl and the SWC to the Cotton Bowl.

But other than that, and the fact whoever got Notre Dame had an instant classic, no one cared about where the rest of the conference's teams ended up, or how they performed in their bowl match ups.

I sure never cheered for Auburn or Tennessee in a bowl even though they're both SEC teams!

So, when did this phenomenon get started?

March Madness!

You can thank college basketball for all this debate!

Conference pride, and the chants "SEC! SEC! SEC!" or "ACC! ACC! ACC!" or for whatever conference you pull for, got started when the selection committee started having to choose 64 teams to play in their tournament.

The money involved, and the number of teams getting in from year to year started all these "our conference is blah blah blah! We should get in this many" arguments.

It's ironic to me that a tournament for basketball, (which most of us fans have been clamoring for since before I can recall for college football), has had its effect on college football of all things!

But there you have it folks!

The conference pride for basketball, as it has over the years gained popularity, (and all the politicking going on to get as many teams in) has leaked its influence into the Bell Cow sport for most Universities in the NCAA, college football.

So why hasn't the tournament that college basketball enjoys leaked over to college basketball?

Maybe it will one day! We can only wait and wonder!