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Don’t Punish the SEC for Excellence

About a week ago, we watched Georgia defeat Alabama 33-18 for the Division 1 college football national championship in an all-SEC affair.

Yeah, there were a lot of conflicted Tennessee fans in these parts who aren’t too crazy about either team, which is to be expected. But Georgia, at long last, after 41 years, finally reached the pinnacle again.

We could debate how distasteful this was until kingdom come, but that’s not the purpose of this visit today. What we will likely hear until kingdom come is the drumbeat to limit the Southeastern Conference’s access to the College Football Playoff. You hear the pundits, people like Colin Cowherd, who deride the “rural football champions.”

Cowherd, of course, favors more metropolitan champions, read Southern Cal. He’s not alone. There are pundits crying how unfair it is that Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Florida, Auburn, et. al. (just plug and play your relevant SEC team) are always playing for the national title, often, two teams from the SEC are battling for it, as has happened in 2011, 2018 and this past season.

The wounded pundits say whole sections of the country are being left out of the process. TV viewership on the West Coast is often nonexistent. Pssst, this just in, West Coast college football viewership is nonexistent as it is.

Why do these wounded crybabies act like this is the SEC’s fault? It’s not the league’s fault that the Big 12, Pac 12, ACC and large sections of the Big 10 stink. To those folks whining about SEC dominance in the College Football Playoff, here’s a bit of advice: tell teams in the other conferences to get better.

The SEC has made the investment in coaches, assistants, facilities, recruiting, infrastructure and marketing. Do you want to know why Georgia annihilated Michigan a few weeks ago? Georgia had 11 5-star recruits on its roster. The Wolverines? Just three. Why did Bama destroy Cincinnati a few weeks ago? Cincinnati had … zero five stars. Bama and Georgia have more blue-chip prospects than a lot of conferences.

“So, let’s expand the playoffs to include more teams.” Okay, fine, let’s. But I point out that it’s hard enough, at the moment, to find four legitimate semifinalists. But go ahead, make it an eight-team or 12-team affair. You’re probably adding another one or two, perhaps three SEC teams to the mix. What happens if three of the four semifinalists are from the SEC? That’s a probable scenario. How have you “improved” the playoff?

Former SEC commissioner Mike Slive, God rest his soul, campaigned that more than one team from any given conference could make it to the dance, and if the other leagues couldn’t abide by that, then the SEC wouldn’t participate. Guess what, if three teams from the Big 10 qualified, they’d get in. Of course, that’s not likely to happen, but, say, Georgia, Bama and Texas A&M could certainly get there.

Until these other Power Five conferences decide to invest in their football programs, the college football champion is going to have a decidedly southern flavor.

One that will give the whiny pundits heartburn.

Editor’s note: Jim Steele is a correspondent for Magic Valley Publishing and the host of The Pressbox, which airs from 4-6 p.m., Monday-Thursday on WRJB, 95.9 FM, Camden.

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