SEC Football: Why Alabama's Domination Is Bad for College Football
The 2012 college football season—unless you're an Alabama or SEC football fan—probably didn't give you reason to smile much. Despite most fans' hopes of possibly celebrating the end of Alabama's stranglehold on college football, they got another year of SEC domination.
The SEC has won seven straight BCS Championships. Alabama became the first team to win back-to-back BCS Championships. Nick Saban is king.
To try and completely grasp what Nick Saban has done at Alabama is almost impossible—nothing short of spectacular doesn't even seem to encapsulate his accomplishments—yet at the same time, there's a nagging sense of doom lingering.
We've seen this before, haven't we? USC didn't match what Alabama has done in the BCS era, but the Trojans were dominant for three straight years before the NCAA pulled the rug out from under them. Ohio State had a similar fate. The point is, college football is cyclical and eventually, Alabama won't be as dominant as it is now but—dare we ask it—what if nothing changes?
Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban has expressed his philosophy over and over, but his bottom line is that you can't have fun unless you're winning. He's winning, and he's not going anywhere because he's having fun.
Meanwhile, the rest of college football is...not.
What differentiates college football from most other sports is that almost anything can happen—nothing is a given. Appalachian State can beat Michigan, a 40-plus point favorite, Stanford can beat USC and Louisiana-Monroe can beat Arkansas. That's what keeps us glued to our television sets or what drives us to the stadiums—that potential for a monumental upset.
Whether it's a kicker determining your team's fate or the simple fact that one day your team just didn't show up on the field, there's a potential for an outcome that comes completely unexpected. All football fans have experienced that unexpected glitch in a season and all fans have had to watch their teams pay the price.
Oklahoma State lost to Iowa State two years ago and that took the Cowboys out of the BCS Championship. Oregon lost to Stanford last November and that took the Ducks out of this year's BCS Championship.
But even when Alabama loses one game in the regular season—heck, even when it didn't even make it to the SEC Championship last season—it wound up winning the BCS Championship.
When Alabama loses, it still wins. That's not how this is supposed to work, is it? Where's the Tide's due punishment? Why can't they suffer like the rest of us?
Is Alabama's domination good or bad for college football?
When Alabama lost to Texas A&M, the football gods all had a meeting after that game and decided that Alabama would be back in the BCS Championship. While football fans were chanting, 'Ding, dong, the witch is dead,' Kansas State laid an egg against Baylor, Oregon fell victim to Stanford's sneaky ways and the folks in Tuscaloosa were watching a classic Bill Murray movie play out.
Alabama has made college football its own Groundhog Day every year. The events leading up to the BCS Championship change—so do the scenarios and the players—but in the end, it's the same result: Alabama is playing for another crystal ball.
And winning it.
Sure, it can be bad for college football. The Yankees made baseball dull in the 1950s—they won every World Series title in that decade except for in 1954, 1957 and 1959—and a lot of fans got turned off by the sport. The Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers also dominated the NBA and made it a two-team league for awhile. Yawn.
Nobody wants to watch the bully in the schoolyard win a fight every time, but if those rumors about a fourth grade violinist who has super Ninja powers are true, there's going to be an audience for that bout.
Right now, Alabama is that bully, but there's a worldwide shortage of Kryptonite and Ninja powers outside the state of Alabama. The sport that is known for Davids beating Goliaths has now lost that one thing that made it so exciting: David can't beat Goliath when it really matters.
In the meantime, while Alabama's domination has polarized football nation even more—Alabama is approaching Notre Dame status at warp speed—football purists should embrace this victory. Purists want to see the best team play for and win a championship—that's good for college football. I'm a purist, for what it's worth.
But most fans are not purists—for many, a team is part of their identity and how their team does is a direct reflection of their own self-worth.
When outcomes are predictable and a fan's enthusiasm for his team wanes, that feeling of helplessness is bad for college football.
Except of course, in SEC country and specifically, Tuscaloosa.
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