It is cited in nearly every preseason, mid-season and postseason college football-related article. It is reiterated by almost every college football television and radio personality.
The SEC has won five, soon to be six, straight BCS National Championships.
The context in which this statistic is usually utilized is to confirm the main reason why the SEC is the most dominant conference in college football. The reason why the benefit of the doubt should always go to the SEC team. And most recently, the reason why this season's BCS National Championship game features the two most deserved teams.
The general opinion of this statistic is that it alone is concrete evidence that the SEC is the most dominant conference in college football.
There are other factors that can justify why the SEC is arguably college football's best conference over the past six seasons. NFL rosters are loaded with SEC players. The conference has several programs with great history and tradition. The conference has performed well in bowl games overall during that period of time.
But conventional wisdom seems not to need those supporting arguments when making a case for SEC supremacy. "The streak" is the only statistic needed.
The intention of this article is not to dispute whether the SEC has been the best conference over the last six years, but rather to suggest that the sole reason for this claim is because of the current BCS Championship streak can be misleading.
2006: I was personally in attendance in 2006 when UCLA shocked No. 2 USC by a score of 13-9 at the Rose Bowl. It was a Pac-10 matchup of the crosstown rivals of Los Angeles. Little did we know, it was also the game that jump-started the streak that would eventually lead to six straight BCS Championships for the SEC.
How many consecutive BCS National Championships will be won by SEC teams before the streak is stopped?
Had USC won that game, they would have played Ohio State for the national championship. The SEC would not have won the national championship in 2006. Would that have meant that the SEC was not as strong of a conference in 2006 because the conference didn't produce the national champion?
Either way, the streak would be one game less because of the results of a game that had no SEC members involved.
2007: The following season, another miraculous upset occurred when 4-7 Pittsburgh upset West Virginia to put a two-loss LSU team in the BCS National Championship.
For the second year in a row, a fluke upset by the score of 13-9 that involved two non-SEC teams put an SEC team in the BCS National Championship vs Ohio State.
Had West Virginia stayed the course and defeated their arch rival in 2007, then the SEC would not have won the national championship that season. Would the SEC have been a weaker conference in 2007 without Pitt's upset of West Virginia?
2008: It was an early-season USC loss caused the Trojans to finish fifth in the final BCS rankings in 2008. The 2008 regular season ended with no undefeated schools from Automatic Qualifying conferences, but five teams from AQ conferences with one loss.
An 0-2 Oregon State team defeated No. 1 USC on the third week of the regular season. A USC defense with Clay Matthews, Brian Cushing and Rey Maualuga could not stop Jacquizz Rodgers and the Beavers for the first 30 minutes of play.
Oklahoma ended the regular season No. 1 in the BCS rankings, so Florida would have been on the outside looking in if USC had avoided this early season upset.
On a side note, it is shocking that Pete Carroll's Trojans never played an SEC champion. But that is a different story.
2010: Now to 2010. Unlike 2006, 2007 and 2008, it didn't take an earthshaking upset of a non-SEC game to put an SEC team in the national championship. But it did take a shocking series of events.
Alabama was up 24-0 against arch rival Auburn early in the second quarter of the 2010 Iron Bowl. Alabama seemed to be headed for a 31-0 lead until Antoine Carter knocked the ball out of Mark Ingram's hands.
That play gave the Tigers hope and Cam Newton would orchestrate an amazing comeback to complete the Tiger's regular season of destiny.
But if Alabama holds on to the 24-point lead, an SEC team doesn't play for the national championship in 2010. Had Alabama defeated Auburn in 2010, would the SEC have somehow not been the most dominant conference that season?
I think a more accurate measure to compare conferences is overall bowl records. Since the streak began in 2006, here are the overall conference records among BCS conferences and the Mountain West...
Big 12: 19-19
ACC: 17-25 (With only two BCS bowl wins in BCS era)
Big Ten: 14-22
Big East: 20-8 (I was shocked too.)
Mountain West: 18-7 (Too bad all their top teams are leaving)
Although the Big East shockingly has the top overall bowl winning percentage over the past five years, the SEC has had more difficult matchups and has been the most dominant conference overall in postseason play.
But to rely entirely on the "BCS Championship Streak" can be misleading when you realize exactly how close the SEC is to having won only one or two of the last six national championships.
Now, since there is no drama as to whether or not the SEC will win six straight, I guess the big question will be whether the conference will win seven in a row?
Shouldn't be a problem.