By: Justin Draughn
Somewhere in a remote, heavily wooded location in Alabama rests a small pub and gathering place. Generally open to the public, with slight exception; every second Tuesday of the month is reserved for a private club meeting – a club that is by no means clandestine but, let’s say “exclusionary” to certain types of people from differing cultural backgrounds.
A gentleman arrives early on this particular second Tuesday of July with a sizeable stack of printed flyers – his hands smeared with partially dried run-off from expensive home printer ink. The cover reads in bold, red and white, poorly selected font type; “Time to Secede – Why We’re Better off Without ‘Em”.
We’re not talking about a harsh, racially motivated organization or band of state separatists…besides, everyone knows that particular organization meets on the third Wednesday of each month - of course they do have to share the venue with “Save the Clock Tower”, a fan club committed to preserving the legacy of the “Back to the Future” franchise. No, this passionately motivated fan represents a common discussion thread found in Alabama football fan club meetings, and countless other South Eastern Conference team fan organizations. Should the SEC break away from the NCAA and form its own league?
With seven consecutive national championships in college football, as an SEC fan you’ll be hard pressed not to feel like a “one-percenter” surveying an “Occupy Birmingham” crowd comprised of less fortunate teams from other conferences. In fact, according to one “very reliable” fan message board, rumor has it that Nick Saban has a highly specialized assistant that gathers tears from crowds of PAC-12 fans who consistently cry about the unfair positioning of SEC teams. I have it on good authority that each vial of tears is collected into a wood cup labeled “The Devil Himself” for daily consumption. The salty and sweet concoction keeps coach Saban running throughout the day – while a few drops are used to meticulously style his widow’s peak hair line.
The fact of the matter is with the string of football championships the SEC has put together, I think the argument of secession is more than fair. Assuming the streak continues, at what point do outside conferences begin being considered as less than worthy competition on the big stage? The argument is naturally evolving into action; presently the SEC powers are in discussion about adopting a grueling nine game conference schedule. Outside observers would call this “conference cannibalism” - you’re effectively risking a shot at a title all in the name of better competition.
While a ninth game in a weaker conference would just be considered another Saturday in fall, in the SEC, it’s a potentially season breaking task. In comparative terms, it would be similar to Lance Armstrong winning eight consecutive Tour de France cycling tournaments, then being asked to win a ninth one…clean. Even with the risks involved in the addition of the ninth conference game, in many inner fan circles there is an honest belief that the SEC Championship game crowns the true “national” champion.
The argument of NCAA secession reaches beyond a competitive issue. Screams of “fairness” will materialize into ridiculous edicts and rules – just wait until the current playoff model seeds the top four SEC teams…we’ll then be treated to an eight game playoff. And so will begin the Atlas Shrugged storyline of college football; one conference’s dominance will yield a host of rules and structure changes – all to level the playing field, and destroy what SEC hold dear. With the immense high school talent of the region, is it that far fetched that the NCAA may seek to limit a southern college’s ability to recruit below the mason Dixon line?
The current college landscape is highly reactionary towards the SEC’s current prowess - with all the conjecture, new rules, conference realignments, and posturing by University presidents, we need to step back and remember…College football is cyclical. The power houses of today may be tomorrow’s Vanderbilt intramural team. And while no conference is likely to secede the Union…correction…NCAA, as long as the SEC keeps winning, college football fans will be inundated with whining and moaning from less successful conferences…and Nick Saban will be there, with “The Devil Himself” cup in hand.
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