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2011 Spring Preview - SEC Champ = BCS Champ?
Jeff Demps, Deangelo Peterson, & Tyler Wilson
Jeff Demps, Deangelo Peterson, & Tyler Wilson
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Mar 22, 2011


After winning five straight national titles, should the SEC champ get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the national title discussion? What happens if the best team in the SEC has one loss and there are two unbeaten BCS conference teams? With the league stronger than ever, it could be the hot topic of the 2011 season. All this and more in the 2011 CFN SEC Spring Preview.

2011 Spring Preview - No. 17

SEC Champ = BCS Champ?

Click for each team's spring preview
East Florida | Georgia | Kentucky | South Carolina | Tennessee | Vanderbilt 
West Alabama | Arkansas | Auburn | LSU | Ole Miss | Miss State
 
2011 SEC Spring Preview 
- SEC Spring Preview - Does SEC Champ = BCS Champ?
- 2011 SEC East Spring Buzz | SEC West   
- 2011 SEC East Spring Attitudes | SEC West
- 2011 SEC East Big Spring Questions | SEC West 
- 2011 SEC East Key Positions To Watch | SEC West
- SEC East Spring Rankings | SEC West

2011 Spring Preview

- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 1-10) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 11-20) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 21-30) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 31-40) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 41-50) 
- No. 19 - Is a smaller Big 12 better? 
- No. 18 - Who doesn't want to be Independent?  

By Pete Fiutak

Now and again, coaches like to dodge tough questions by throwing out the time-honored cliché that they don't deal in hypotheticals, but in a sport that determines its champion based on opinions, the theoretical aspect plays a huge role in the decision-making process of the pollsters.

Two years ago, things got very, very interesting late in the Big 12 Championship, and if Hunter Lawrence of Texas hadn’t hit the bomb to beat Nebraska, would it have been Cincinnati or TCU playing Alabama for the national title? Boise State was the hot-button topic for most of last season, but after the loss to Nevada, the focus shifted to what might have happened had Auburn not come back to beat Alabama or if Oregon had lost. Okay, so what if Bama didn’t gag away the Iron Bowl?

Let’s say Tigers’ valiant comeback attempt fell just short, but they were able to go on to destroy South Carolina in the SEC Championship. Would a one-loss Auburn have played Oregon for the national title, or would an unbeaten TCU have gone to Glendale instead of Pasadena?

What if West Virginia didn’t choke against Pitt in 2007 and/or what if Missouri didn’t lose to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship? Would a two-loss LSU still have been handed a shot to play Ohio State for the national title? And what if USC hadn’t gacked against UCLA in 2006? Would it have played Troy Smith and Ohio State in the BCS Championship instead of Florida? Trojans fans are still beefing about not getting to play for the whole ball of wax in 2003, when No. 2 LSU got in and beat Oklahoma for the title.

Give the SEC credit for taking advantage of its opportunities, but if you lump in the 1996 Florida national championship - which was only won because 1) it got an unnecessary rematch against Florida State and 2) Ohio State came back in the final seconds to beat Jake Plummer and Arizona State in the Rose Bowl – and if you include the 2008 Gator championship when Tebow and the Promise Keepers got the nod over Texas, an unbeaten Utah, and USC, then of the last seven national championships won by the conference, five required a mega-break.

The SEC national championships of the last seven that were completely and totally clean and without any reasonable debate whatsoever were the last two, with Auburn and Alabama each the unquestioned champion, no matter what 2009 Boise State or 2010 TCU might say. But no matter how the conference has won the championships, now the respect factor is there to the point that it might not be a BCS Championship without an SEC team in it, no matter what the record. The stripes have been earned.

So, then, what happens if and when there’s a one-loss SEC champion and, say, Oregon and Oklahoma go unbeaten? What if Alabama loses a heartbreaker at Florida on September 24th, runs the table, and then rolls over the Gators in a rematch in the SEC Championship? In this case, if the Tide is left out, as good as the Ducks and Sooners might be, will there be anyone in America outside of the greater Eugene and Norman metropolitan areas who’ll believe the winner of the 2012 BCS Championship is the true champion?

Turn it the other way with the same scenario. What if Alabama loses a nail-biter in Gainesville and obliterates everything in its path the rest of the way, including impressive wins over LSU, at Mississippi State, at Auburn, and in the SEC Championship game? What if the Tide is so good that the 2008 Oklahoma respect factor kicks in and it gets voted into the BCS Championship over some unbeaten BCS power? Imagine the complete and utter chaos that would ensue if a one-loss SEC champion played for the national title over an unbeaten Oregon or Oklahoma, or even a spotless West Virginia or a 13-0 Wisconsin.

And what if the one-loss SEC champion didn’t blow everyone out of the water? What if a big-name team like Florida or LSU lost a tough SEC game and then battled through several conference wars to finish a tough 12-1? Would you still believe that the two unbeaten teams from other BCS leagues deserve to be in, or would you still want to see the one-loss SEC champion get its shot? A few juggernaut USC teams didn’t get the benefit of the doubt in the same scenario, but still …

BCS, your clock is ticking.

It’s been a while since there’s been a knockdown, drag out debate over who should be in the BCS Championship, and that’s partly because there hasn’t been any real question about the final outcome. 2008 Florida might have received a break, but it was clearly the best team in college football by the end of the year. The same goes for LSU in 2007, once it healed up, and Florida in 2006 after the Glendale stomping. But now things are different. Now, because there isn’t a playoff, the BCS is ripe to get tagged with an ugly fight that shakes the foundation of the silly system to its very core. It’s one thing to leave out a 2009 Cincinnati or an unbeaten non-AQ team, but soon, very soon, just like in 2003 and 2004, BCS voters are going to have to make a tough choice between three teams worthy of the coveted two spots, and the SEC is probably going to get the benefit of the doubt because it’s the SEC.

Is that fair?

It will be in terms of public perception if the SEC team wins the national championship, and it’ll especially hold true of the third wheel ends up losing its bowl game or looks mediocre. Every season and every team has to be taken on its own merits, and soon, someone is going to get hosed just because it doesn’t play in the SEC.

If you win five straight national titles, the calls tend to go your way.

The Top Five SEC Players Who Need A Big Spring
1. John Brantley, QB Florida
2. Jordan Jefferson, QB LSU
3. Tyler Wilson, QB Arkansas
4. Barrett Trotter, QB Auburn
5. Darius Hanks, WR Alabama

The Top 5 Position Concerns/Battles
1. Alabama quarterback
2. South Carolina secondary
3. LSU quarterback
4. Auburn offensive line
5. Mississippi State linebacker

The 5 Biggest SEC Spring Storylines
1. The Will Muschamp/Charlie Weis marriage. It should work. If Muschamp works his magic on the Florida defense, and if Weis is the offensive coordinator he's expected to be, and turns John Brantley into another Brady Quinn or Jimmy Clausen - at least at the collegiate level - than a national title can be won right now.
2. Is South Carolina going to be able to live up to expectations? There are holes, but with Stephen Garcia, Marcus Lattimore, and Alshon Jeffery to work around, anything less than another East title might be seen as a failure. Even with a phenomenal recruiting class, the window might be closing a bit. Florida is about to be Florida again, and Tennessee and Georgia aren't going to stink for too much longer. Speaking of which ...
3. Is the East going to be any better? Let's call 2010 what it was for the SEC East ... miserable. Can Georgia get more out of its offense, particularly the line? Will Tennessee's offensive front do anything, and can the defense be a wee bit tighter? Can UK be a real, live threat, and will the Vanderbilt passing game come around like the new coaching staff hopes for?.
4. The LSU offense. The team went 11-2 last year, so there isn't too much room for complaining, but the offense has got to be better, especially in the passing game, to have any shot of winning the loaded West. And, of course ...
5. Oh yeah, the defending national champs. Is it possible to go from winning the national title to finishing last in the SEC West in one year? Yes, but it's not going to happen to an Auburn team that won't get any national respect, but might be very, very sneaky-good, even without Mr. Newton and Mr. Fairley.

The Pre-Spring Call .... the SEC Player of the Year will be ...
1. Marcus Lattimore, RB South Carolina
2. Trent Richardson, RB Alabama
3. Knile Davis, RB Arkansas
4. John Brantley, QB Florida
5. Alshon Jeffery, WR South Carolina 

Click for each team's spring preview
East Florida | Georgia | Kentucky | South Carolina | Tennessee | Vanderbilt 
West Alabama | Arkansas | Auburn | LSU | Ole Miss | Miss State
 
2011 SEC Spring Preview 
- SEC Spring Preview - Does SEC Champ = BCS Champ?
- 2011 SEC East Spring Buzz | SEC West   
- 2011 SEC East Spring Attitudes | SEC West
- 2011 SEC East Big Spring Questions | SEC West 
- 2011 SEC East Key Positions To Watch | SEC West
- SEC East Spring Rankings | SEC West
 
2011 Spring Preview

- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 1-10) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 11-20) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 21-30) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 31-40) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 41-50) 
- No. 19 - Is a smaller Big 12 better? 
- No. 18 - Who doesn't want to be Independent?