Monday, January 7, 2013

This is a “down year” for the SEC? Ummm, okay.

Before I even write this column, I want to point out that I am NOT a conference cheerleader.  Outside of enjoying ticking off Clemson fans from time to time as needed (and that is always fun), I never get into the “SEC, SEC, SEC” homer nonsense.  The only argument I have ever heard that even reaches me on this topic is that Carolina’s finances are certainly helped by being in the conference.  No question that is true, but the SEC is going to ALWAYS be in good shape financially.  So I don’t need to have Georgia and Florida win their bowl games to protect the Gamecocks’ cash.  

Having said that, all the SEC Haters in the world are kidding themselves if they think this year’s bowls “prove” that the SEC is on its way down.  Morons.  I will have some special remarks for the ACC  in a bit but first let’s probe the overall tally in 2012-13.  Heading into the National Championship game on Monday, the Southeastern Conference is 5-3 in bowls and playing for the title on Monday.  WOW!  What a collapse. 
I don’t have the historical numbers in front of me and I have no plans to research for such an asinine “argument,” but I remember other years where the SEC lost 3 or 4 bowls and everyone was all lathered up that it was fading into mediocrity.  Give me a break.  The only thing more irritating than an SEC Homer is an SEC Hater.  Every time some random team beats an SEC team in a bowl you get this incredible overreaction that is both laughable and transparent.  

This brings me to the always delightful collection of insane lunatics in the Atlantic Coast Conference.  The ACC is 4-2 in the bowls this year and officially done with bowls.  BUT their fans are claiming Louisville’s win to make it 5-2.  So since they want to take that liberty, I will play in that pigpen and also give them Pitt’s humiliating loss to Ole Miss to make them 5-3.  

SO then they go one step further and are all ready to claim a Notre Dame win tomorrow over Bama as proof that the ACC is FINALLY on par with the SEC.  (Although Notre Dame is not joining the ACC for football.  You can’t make this up but anyway.)   Regardless, they better hope the Irish win after all of this silly talk.  Because if Bama wins, the SEC is 6-3 and will have landed their 7th straight national title.  You have to just laugh out loud imagining how the haters will spin that result.  “But, but, but…hey Clemson beat LSU by 1 point in the Peach Bowl and Louisville beat Florida.  That means something right?”  lol  I’ll get to that.
But first what if Notre Dame actually wins?  The ACC then is the 6-3 team and has a national title in their fans’ minds.  (Remember from earlier they are pulling in teams that aren’t in the conference yet to boost their hand. Including a team that specifically wouldn’t join the ACC if it meant being linked to them in football.  Awesome!)  

The truth is that you can’t rationally argue with someone thick enough to think that way, but I will try.  A long-time consistent position of mine is that “wanting to be there” and motivation are huge factors in individual bowl matchups.  As a Gamecock fan I can provide 1st hand evidence both ways.  When we won that 1st Outback Bowl, I believe that Ohio State was better on paper but didn’t want to be there.  They were in turmoil and we took advantage.  Then in the Pizza Bowl we were miserable being there and we were in turmoil with the Garcia stuff.  And Connecticut took full advantage.  For more of a national example, Utah beating Alabama is telling.  Go back and review the reaction to that game.  Alabama was finished and Utah was a rising star.  How did that fairy tale finish?   

So to The ACC, aka College Football’s “whipping boy” for a while now.  I ask you this…has there ever been a conference more DESPERATE for a good bowl season?  (Especially after your regular season finales against the SEC teams?)  The results?  First, Georgia Tech beats Southern Cal. Does anyone really think Southern Cal wanted to be there?  Be honest now.  Next, Virginia Tech beats Rutgers in overtime 13-10.  As Dom Deluise would say, that’s nice.  Not “thrilling” but nice.  Oh, and Florida State beats Northern Illinois.  Really?  

And so we’re left with the ACC’s signature win in the Peach Bowl.  If ANYONE has been overhyped in the last decade it is Clemson.  No team I can think of has done less with more according to the media.  I congratulate Clemson for finally being able to win a meaningful game under Dabo.  Seriously.  It was a nice win and Tajh played a great game.  But my goodness, if there was a team due for the breaks to go their way in a bowl it was the 70-point Tigers, and I am NOT hating on them.  It’s just a fact.  My rational Tigger pals and I have been talking since their win and I will concede that it gives old Dabbles a shot at redemption moving forward.  No doubt t does, and he may take advantage.  But we’ll see what that hyper pup can do with the car bumper since he’s finally caught it.  But you can’t deny the ACC that this is their best bowl season in years and we tip our caps.  

But save trying to make it a referendum on the SEC because you will lose that every time.  The bottom line is that there are 2 main questions here:  1. is the SEC overrated; 2. is the SEC the best conference in college football?  The answer to both is a resounding YES.  The SEC is overrated every season by ESPN and the rest of the media.  BUT, that fact does NOT change the fact that year in, year out it is still the best conference in college football.  And one 5-4 or 6-3 mark in a bowl isn’t going to change that. 
Now please never put me in a position again where I have to be an SEC homer again.

What a great time to be a Gamecock! 

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