The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

August 18, 2013

It’s an SEC world after all

By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News and Eagle

— Well, that’s it. No sense in playing out the college football season. Hand the crown to Alabama. At least that it is what the preseason polls would indicate.

With The Associated Press’ release of its preseason Top 25 poll, the Crimson Tide were the runaway selection of the 60 writers who vote in the weekly poll to claim a third straight national title, securing 58 first-place votes with the other first place votes going to Ohio State, which was picked second, and Georgia, which was picked fifth.

The AP poll looked amazingly similar to the USA Today Coaches Poll which came out about three weeks earlier.

Partisan Big 12 fans may wish to shield their eyes when looking at the polls, especially those who suffer from SEC envy.

Oklahoma State pulled in at No. 13 in the AP poll and No. 14 in the USA Today poll, the highest ranking of any Big 12 team. The Sooners were No. 16 in both polls. The only other Big 12 teams getting a sniff in the two biggest preseason polls were Texas (No. 15 in AP and USA Today) and TCU (No. 20 in AP and USA Today).

You won’t find many SEC teams hanging out in  the same preseason neighborhood as the Big 12 in the polls. No, they are much higher-up, in the gated community area of the Top 10. In fact, in both polls, half of the Top 10 is comprised of teams from the Southeastern Conference: Alabama, Georgia (No. 5 AP and USA Today), South Carolina (No. 6 AP, No. 7 USA Today), Texas A&M (No. 6 USA Today, No. 7 AP) and Florida (No. 10 both polls).

While we all are pretty much living in the SEC’s world when it comes to college football (brought to you by ESPN of course, which owns the SEC Network), and have to deal with the hype machine churning out story after story about the greatness of the SEC, it’s hard to argue the SEC has not earned its current lofty status.

After all, Alabama has won two straight BCS crowns and teams from the SEC have won all seven titles since the BCS came into existence. The only thing that likely will stop their BCS reign is the fact the BCS will cease to exist after this season.

Until a team from another conference demonstrates they are up to the task, the SEC, no matter how you may feel about Nick Saban or Les Miles, has been the superior product in college football and is the only conference able to play defense in the pass-happy, point-a-minute world of the rest of today’s collegiate football teams. Just ask OSU and OU how well not being able to stop teams has worked out while they pile up the points.

But if you are intent on finding a ray of hope in the preseason polls to combat the seeming inevitably of an Alabama repeat, there are some straws to grasp. Only 10 of the previous 63 preseason AP No. 1 teams have won national championships. Only two teams (Florida State, 1999 and USC, 2004) have been ranked No. 1 for an entire season and six times the national champion was not even ranked in the preseason (the last one was BYU in 1984 which finished undefeated after beating a 6-5 Michigan team in the Holiday Bowl).

But there also is one other rather salient point that should be considered before folks in these parts throw up their arms in despair and concede another title to that other team that wears crimson: Kickoff still is two weeks away.



Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at daver@enidnews.com