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Are Conference Conflicts Getting as Heated as Team-on-Team Rivalries?

Larry BurtonSenior Writer ISeptember 24, 2009

ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 05:  Quarterback Greg McElroy #12 of the Alabama Crimson Tide against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Georgia Dome on September 5, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

I like to visit sports bars sometimes and just hang out with fans. It gives me sense of what the fans are interested in at that particular time.

Living in a vacation town (Panama City Beach, Florida), we get visitors from all over the United States so I get a little bigger sampling than most towns.

Lately the big discussions have been over conferences, conference rivalries and the clout they each have and the fairness of the BCS when it comes to bowl games and championships.

Northerners usually feel that the SEC too much power over the BCS and that a one or two loss SEC champion shouldn't have priority over ANY unbeaten school, or any one loss member of another conference. They think the SEC is way over rated.

Maybe, but the last time a two loss SEC champion played for the BCS Championship against a "better school," the SEC team killed them.

People from the South think the Big 10 should be dropped as BCS conference given their recent bow outings and games when they face top 20 opposition. You can argue that point, but not the recent records, however every conference goes through cycles and while it's true the Big 10 may be in a downward one now, they will recover.

Also people from the South think the Pac 10 is all media love and no muscle. Try explaining that to Tennessee. They make the case that USC lost to a nobody last year and did again this year too and they're the best they've got.

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But wasn't Ole Miss a nobody last year when they beat Florida, the eventual BCS Champion?

So every good team gets one ripped out from underneath them from time to time. However top to bottom of the major BCS powers the only conference the Pac 10 can consistently claim dominance over is the Big 10.

Now our western friends who think the Big 12 has a claim to top conference may have a valid argument as well. There are many high powered offenses in that country, but the Big 12 North has been a little on the weak side lately.

They think the Big 10 is vastly over rated (like most of the rest of the country) and the Pac 10 is just USC and whoever else may be hot that year. (This year that would be California) Most Big Twelve people think that except for Florida, the SEC is no big deal.

The ACC and Big East are jokes to them and if Big 12 people had their way, the Big East wouldn't even have a BCS tie in.

Speaking of our Eastern cousins, the ACC looks down their nose at the Big East and like most of the other conferences thinks the Big 10 are just pretenders, never contenders.

They don't talk down the SEC much because the SEC raids their area's best recruits and regularly dispatches them in key match ups such as the last two years, "Alabama vs the Best of the ACC" kickoff games.

So much talk has been given to conferences lately that it made me aware that conference pride has really been ramped up over the last few years. There were cheers from the Alabama fans in Atlanta following the Kickoff Classic game of "SEC, SEC..."

Since when did Bama fans cheer for the SEC?

With conference tv packages and big money conference bowl games in the mix, is it any wonder why the "Other" conferences are screaming foul?

Take last year's Utah. Could they have done worse than Oklahoma in the BSC game? Probably not.

The BCS busters are actually looking into such things as anti trust laws that bar them from certain money enhanced bowls and equal access to a BCS game.

Their conference pride is on the line too. And you can bet they're not going away without a fight and who can blame them?

Many people are already predicting whether deserving or not, that USC's loss to Washington already paved the way for the Big 12 Champion to once again face the SEC Champion in the BCS game.

In all likelihood, that mean Texas vs either Alabama or Florida.

An undefeated Big 10 opponent will go off and be served up to another conference winner yet again for the slaughtering once again and in the end we can all say justice has been served by the BSC.

But has it, have all teams been equally compared? That is always the argument that will rage on, and the conference debates will continue.

The real question I'm pondering, is will be lesser schools in the conference turn to conference pride over team pride? Will we start seeing more conference caps and sweatshirts? When and where will the conference pride peak?

Time will tell.

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