The champion of the SEC has now won the last five national title games. That's pretty astounding.
What's more astounding is since the beginning of the BCS era, the SEC champion has won seven of the 13 BCS title games. That's one more than half of them so far. And they've done it against the champions of the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC and now the Pac-10.
But perhaps the most astonishing feat of all of that is the depth. Since the BCS era started in 1998, a total of five DIFFERENT SEC teams have won the title. That would be Tennessee, LSU (twice), Florida (twice), Alabama and now Auburn.
That means that almost HALF of the teams in the SEC have won the national title since 1998. Given there have only been six teams outside of the SEC winning the title, that means the SEC has had roughly as many teams win the national title as ALL OTHER CONFERENCES COMBINED.
There are many that attempt to down play how good the SEC is by saying the conference is "top heavy." But when no fewer than five teams have won the title in the last 13 years, the top is not just one or two teams. It's half the league.
In the Big 12 (soon to be down to 10 teams), Oklahoma and/or Texas need only win against each other. After that, they can pretty much coast to the conference title. And the Big Ten is usually the same. Michigan has been down which has left a power vacuum. But once they are back, Iowa or Wisconsin will fall back to middling teams, and the road to the conference title will again run through the winner of "The Game."
Truly the SEC is the land of giants. And I believe that is why the SEC champion is so well prepared to continue to win the title.
Here are the reasons I believe the SEC keeps winning title games:
1. SEC teams are very accustomed to playing huge games. The bright lights not only don't bother them but are almost ho-hum to them. It was obvious in tonight's Auburn/Oregon game that Oregon had a bad case of the nerves that Auburn just didn't have. To underscore this point, the MVP for Auburn was a true freshman. But by the end of an SEC season, he's prepared to be that kind of player on a big stage.
2. SEC teams are used to playing tougher competition than what they see when bowl season comes around. When a team plays the likes of Florida, Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Auburn, Tennessee (when they're good), Arkansas and South Carolina, they are battle tested. They've seen the fast, the big, the tough, the hostile, the talented, the determined, and they've seen them every week. They play tougher conference games than bowl games which is why the SEC wins the majority of their bowls most years...especially the big bowls. The SEC's record in national titles is 7-0. Their BCS bowl record outside of the title game is nothing to scoff at either.
3. The SEC has both size and speed. Brent Musburger made the comment tonight that if Oregon thought they'd be faster than Auburn, they were wrong. The Big Ten can keep up with the size of the SEC but not the speed. Sure, those teams have fast players at skill positions but not the speed all up and down the defensive line and linebacker corps. Oregon, conversely, had the speed but not the size. Nobody has both in such quantities as the SEC.
4. The SEC has the coaching edge. The SEC now has four coaches that have won national titles. If Urban Meyer had not retired, it would have been five. That's five teams out of 12 (or almost half) that would have been coached by a national title winning coach. And Mississippi State's Dan Mullen has been credited largely with being a key component in the Florida titles of late while Florida's new coach, Will Muschamp, was part of a national title team last year at Texas.
5. The players that want to play against the best and get prepared for the NFL play in the SEC. As the saying goes, the rich get richer. And with the current streak that the SEC is on, it's become well known to high school "ballers" that if they want to really get prepared for the draft and increase their stock, they should go play against the best week in and week out. So the teams get stronger and stronger.
With traditional powers having some difficulties like Texas falling apart and under-performing, Michigan going through a coaching crisis, USC on probation, Miami mired in mediocrity, Notre Dame no longer being the name it once was and probably never will again and Ohio State only this year getting their first bowl win over an SEC team (and that because of an Arkansas miscue where they dove on a blocked punt rather than running it in for the lead), it's difficult to argue that anyone will knock the SEC off their current perch next season.
The SEC has won so much they're starting to consider that national title a birthright. There are a lot of haters that should be appreciators instead. The conference is as deep as any has ever been. We are definitely in the era of the SEC.