ATHENS — I don’t disagree with the SEC’s self-aggrandizing commercial. You know, “It Just Means More.” I think they’re referring to all sports, but I certainly believe that phrase applies in football.
But “means more” shouldn’t be confused with “is the best” or even “plays a better brand.” If you’re talking about what league played the best football this season, I think that trophy goes to the ACC, hands down. And that’s not just because of that one big game won in the final second by the Clemson Tigers over Alabama, though that does stand as a shiny symbol.
No, the ACC had made a pretty good argument before getting to the College Football Playoff championship game. It went 10-4 head-to-head against the SEC this season and 4-1 in bowl games. LSU, with a 29-9 win over Louisville in the Citrus Bowl, was the only conference team able to score a victory over the ACC in the postseason.
Overall, the SEC went 6-7 in bowl games. Teams from the ACC went 9-3. So there’s that.
Lest we forget, the narrative all season became how this was the Big Ten’s year. There were arguments being made for including three teams from that conference in the national semifinals. As it was, only one made the cut. Ohio State was summarily blanked by Clemson in the semis and both Penn State and Michigan lost in their bowl games. That league went 3-7.
But the SEC was down this year, for sure. Traditional powers such as Georgia, LSU, Florida, Tennessee and Texas A&M all had sub-par seasons. Programs such as those don’t stay down long, however. They’ll be back. You can count on it.
As always, Alabama remained the star attraction, and that’s not likely to change any time soon. The Crimson Tide already has been designated No. 1 in all the “way too early” polls that come out way too early these days. But just because the Tide remained dominant this season doesn’t mean the rest of the league can proclaim to be among the best.
That’s the flaw in that narrative. I’ve heard a lot of people equate Alabama’s recent dominance with the overall strength of the SEC. But it’s interesting you don’t hear the same argument when Kentucky makes its annual drive in the NCAA tournament in basketball. And you certainly don’t see fans from other teams in the AFC East beating their chests because the New England Patriots are in another Super Bowl.
I wonder, do people really root for conferences? I guess so.
As for the SEC and its dramatic commercials, I recently learned that the beautiful spokesperson featured in those ads — Wynn Everett — is indeed a true-blue SEC’er. She’s a native Atlanta who grew up in Dunwoody and Cumming and ended up majoring in communication and theatre at Auburn. She also has connections to Alabama and Vanderbilt, according to a brief profile on the SEC’s website.
Makes one wonder who was doing the recruiting for those schools.
As for football this season, one has to tip his cap to the ACC. Their league had more good teams than the SEC or anybody else did this season. Georgia notched one of the rare victories with its 33-24 win over North Carolina in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. But then Georgia Tech took care of the Bulldogs and Kentucky and in its last two games of the year.
That was two of the last three for the Yellow Jackets against UGA. Meanwhile, FSU won its fourth straight over Florida and Clemson has won its last three against South Carolina.
I guarantee you this: Losses mean more in the SEC. People lose their jobs over such trends.
That’s because football does mean more in the SEC. There’s a reason it has the biggest stadiums and the best television contracts. And by and large, I think the SEC still plays the best football overall.
Just not this year.