While it’s easy to understand why any fan of a conference not named the SEC grows tired of hearing and reading about the SEC, the evolution of this year’s conference championship match-ups screams why the landscape is so lopsided.
This came home Monday when Miami announced that the football program was going to self-impose a bowl ban (hoping to beat the NCAA to the punch) and therefore would not accept a bid to the ACC championship game. This allowed Georgia Tech to back through the door as Coastal Division “champions.” The Jackets will face Florida State for the ACC title.
This isn’t meant to pick on Georgia Tech. It’s not the Jackets’ fault they have been given this opportunity, despite a relatively crummy season. But if you want to know why the SEC commands the attention it does, just look at how the ACC and other conference championship games compare.
Here are the conference title games, listed from worst to first:
• BIG EAST: There is no conference championship game because it doesn’t have enough teams (12 is the mandated minimum). Why the Big East is an automatic qualifier in the BCS order of things is beyond logic because it seems to exist only to have its remains picked over by the ACC and Big 12 for their own conference expansion. On a related note: Possible Big East champion Rutgers is considering joining the Big Ten.
• BIG 12: It was forced to cancel its conference championship game after 2010 because the defections of Nebraska (Big Ten) and Colorado (Pacific 12) left the conference with only 10 teams. In other words, the name “Big 12” is a lie! There’s also this: Kansas State, the conference’s best team and No. 1 in the BCS until Saturday, just got flattened by Baylor.
• ACC: The conference championship will match Georgia Tech against Florida State. If the Yellow Jackets lose to Georgia, they will be a 6-6 conference finalist. So much for marquee value. Coastal Division teams Miami and North Carolina are ineligible and usual power Virginia Tech has fallen apart. The Seminoles, winners of the Atlantic, have a nice record (10-1). But they get little love from computers (ranking 17th) and stand only 10th in the BCS. That’s what happens when you lose to North Carolina State and have one win over a ranked team (Clemson).
• BIG TEN: This is very ACC-like. Third-place Wisconsin (4-3, 7-4, with another possible loss this week at Penn State) will represent the “Leaders” Division in the conference championship game. Why? Because Ohio State (7-0, 11-0) and Penn State (5-2, 7-3) both are ineligible. The other finalist will be either Nebraska or Michigan, neither of whom rank among the top 13 schools in the BCS.
• PACIFIC 12: Oregon, the conference’s best team and until Saturday the No. 2 team in the BCS, may not even play for the Pac-12 title now. The Ducks lost to Stanford at home, and now need a win over Oregon State and a Stanford loss to UCLA to get into the game. The Bruins locked up the South Division with last week’s win over USC. But they’re far out of BCS title contention (17th).
• SEC: Conference teams have won six straight BCS championships and, as much as it pains the rest of the populace, there is a chance the SEC will make it seven. If Georgia beats Georgia Tech Saturday and Alabama beats Auburn, the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide will meet next week for not only the SEC championship but a pass into BCS game. Upsets by Tech and/or Auburn would change the scenario. But as of now, the SEC has by far the best conference title game and with the most on the line nationally.
So what else is new?
- By Jeff Schultz
Cyber-chatting on Atlanta sports — and can Tech pull the upset?
Busy times … earlier blogs you might’ve missed