Over the past four years, the SEC has been the best football conference in America. It's impossible not to know. The media and the fans have shoved that fact down the throats of the rest of the country.
However, the title and the gloating are well deserved, as the SEC has won four straight national championships.
Is it still the best conference in America? That remains to be seen. But it will compete once again, as Alabama will undoubtedly start the season as the nation's top team.
The SEC won't be knocked off its perch atop college football easily. Doing so would take a loss in the National Championship. But several other leagues--the Big Ten in particular--have plenty of contenders up to the challenge.
The problem, though, is that in today's media-crazed society, having a good enough team to beat the Alabamas and Floridas of college football might not be enough.
Because of the BCS, there is always the possibility that perfection may not mean a National Championship berth. It happened in 2004 when Auburn (yes, an SEC team) didn't make it to the title game despite a perfect record. It's happened numerous times to undefeated non-Big Six teams, who sometimes get jumped by one-loss BCS conference teams.
Fair? No. But as nearly everyone involved with college football has learned the hard way, life isn't fair.
In a media-driven world, sometimes the opinions of commentators or writers on major sports networks pull as much weight as wins and losses.
That's not to say that Alabama can go 8-4 and automatically punch a ticket to Glendale, but if it is one of three undefeated teams, it almost certainly has a spot in the National Championship.
Because of the unspoken conference hierarchy created by the media, the SEC will always beat out a team from another conference for a spot in a bowl game, regardless of if the other team has been more impressive throughout the season.
With so many solid teams heading into 2010, but no clear superpower, expect the race to be close, unlike last year when it was never in doubt. This means that an SEC team will likely be in the mix, and thus, receive an automatic bid.
It may sound crazy, but because of all the hype the SEC receives, it is definitely possible.
Take this year for example.
Because of preseason polls, the SEC was basically guaranteed a spot in Pasadena. If its champion was undefeated, it got a spot. This ended up costing three undefeated teams--Cincinnati, TCU, and Boise State--a shot at a national title.
It ended up not being a huge deal because those teams are either non-Big Six or didn't play a tough schedule, but had Iowa managed to stay undefeated in the final month, or if Ohio State had been perfect, then there would have been an issue.
With so many teams this year that will likely be competitive, there is bound to be a problem with an SEC team jumping a more deserving team from another major conference.
And because of the SEC's preseason hype, a very good team may not be invited to Glendale.