Point/Counter: Is a Bama/LSU rematch okay?

Posted Jan 8, 2012

Here we go. It's rematch time and the SEC will reign supreme again. The last six years have seen a dominant run by the big bad SEC, and having two from the arguably best league in the country is the mountain top of the run. But is that a good thing? CFN's Phil Harrison and Terry Johnson debate on whether it's a good thing to have two SEC teams in the BCS National Championship.

Phil Harrison – It's not in the best interest of college football to have two SEC teams in the BCS National Championship.

SEC! SEC! SEC! We've all heard the chant by now, and if you haven't, you're not listening. The SEC has flat out owned college football since January of 2007 when the Florida Gators laid a public flogging to Ohio State in the desert to claim the SEC's first of five straight national titles. It's clear now that the SEC is king, and all of the other leagues are the court jesters--simply trying to do enough to impress.

But now, just when you thought the SEC couldn't get any more dominant, we have the season of all seasons in which two SEC teams, from the same division no less, will be squaring off on Monday night to lay claim to the league's sixth straight national championship. The SEC BCS train is running downhill and it seems the remainder of the BCS leagues taking the hazing are powerless to derail it.

But is having two SEC teams in the BCS Championship game a good thing? If you're from SEC country, then certainly your rooting interests will emphatically respond--Yes! On the flip side, if conference pride resides elsewhere, there's a fair to good chance that the quick response would be a resounding--No!. So....let's take a step back and objectively try to answer the question shall we?

It's no secret that college football is thriving right now, and it has been gaining more popularity through the recent run of dominance by the Southeastern Conference. But that's an easy five hundred foot level view of what's going on. As we zoom in closer, things begin to come more into focus--at least theoretically.

College football has tons of tradition--tradition that is a national tradition. Notre Dame, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, Ohio State, USC. These are but a few of the names known as the blue bloods of the sport. All have the pedigree, tradition, and exuberant fan following to steer the ship of fandom. All bring television money, licensing, and other revenue streams because of the winning and following they have built. And all are not from the SEC.

So what are we in danger of? Nobody from the south is going to like this, but it is in the best interest of college football to have the other leagues catch up. Part of what makes college athletics so fun is the chance at winning it all, and the debate that goes along with it, and if the SEC continues to dominate, we all risk the chance of supreme interest waning. Recruits have already started to flock to the south like snowbirds, the licensing and money gap is in danger of getting wider, and the elite coaching talent is buying up real estate and sucking down sweet tea because of the money being shelled out for winning in the passionate SEC. It is now the cool kid at the party that everyone wants to rub elbows with.

Meanwhile, cobwebs are collecting in the very trophy cases of other big boy programs in other parts of the country that helped fuel the college football explosion. And now if the current run of play continues, it could be in danger of imploding.

If the rich continue to get richer, then the other now middle class BCS schools are going to suffer. Maybe not at first, but eventually it could happen. They'll suffer because they'll get used to losing. Life won't revolve around a game any longer and television ratings in the other parts of the country risk taking a hit as do memorabilia sales--all life bloods of money that makes the world, and college football go ‘round.

Then there's expansion. Any business knows that it has to hit new markets to broaden its reach, and without success stories in other parts of the country, the expansion of college football fever stands little chance of taking hold. It's growth could be stunted in places like the Northeast and Western states because there will be few changes of a media darling story to grab these geographical psyches. No, continued growth within an already drenched market is not where it's at, and the Southeastern Conference is a drenched market if we've ever seen one.

There's a game on Monday night--one that will undoubtedly be an entertaining, high stakes type of affair with extremely talented athletes, and one with quite probably the two best teams in college football--both from the same conference. But as good as the contest will be, it'll be one of fatigue--SEC fatigue. Folks will turn on their television sets, but those without a rooting interest will more than likely lose interest as it goes late into the night. Slowly, year by year, they'll turn off those sets earlier and earlier if the current state of affairs continue.

And while they dream they'll hear cheers in their nightmares of SEC! SEC! SEC!

Follow me on Twitter: @PhilHarrisonCFN

Terry Johnson – The best two teams are in the championship game - where's the problem?

Ever since the BCS announced that LSU would play Alabama for the national championship, critics have claimed that having two teams from the same conference playing for the BCS title would hurt college football.

They could not be more wrong. In fact, the BCS came into existence solely for the benefit of college football and its rabid fan base's desire to crown a true national champion.

A closer look at the BCS process will demonstrate the genius of the system.

According to its mission statement, the BCS is "designed to ensure that the two top-rated teams in the country meet in the national championship game". It ignores petty factors like television ratings, ticket sales, and fan bases, and focuses solely on the task of putting the best two teams on the field for all the marbles.

That's exactly what happened this year.

No one can deny that LSU is the best team in the country right now, as it's the nation's only undefeated team. The Tigers' have eight wins over ranked opponents this season, including three wins over teams that played in BCS games this season.

On the other hand, many will question whether Alabama belongs in this game. Make no mistake - Nick Saban's team was clearly the second best team in college football at selection time. The Crimson Tide won every game this season by at least 16 points – which is quite an accomplishment since they play in the nation's toughest conference. They also boast the nation's most physical defense, which leads the NCAA in almost every statistical category. No other team in the country, including Oklahoma State and Stanford, can match these credentials.

After evaluating the merits of all worthy one-loss teams, Alabama's elevation to the BCS title game does nothing to harm college football. In fact, its ascension to the number two slot actually makes college football better by telling aspiring national title contenders like Oklahoma State and Stanford to play tougher non-conference games if they want to play for the national championship.

Everyone, especially the fans, benefit when college football's heavyweights face off during the regular season.

The real reason for all of the controversy behind the All-SEC national championship game has little to do with the participants, and more to do with the conference itself. Regardless of who wins the national championship game, the SEC will win its sixth consecutive BCS title. Many fans have grown tired of hearing all the chants of "SEC! SEC! SEC!" as the clock winds down to zero during the national championship game. Let's call it "SEC fatigue syndrome".

Contrary to popular belief, this is a good thing for college football. People always learn more from their failures than they do from their successes. Coaches in other conferences are now recruiting much more diligently than before to assemble a squad capable of beating an SEC opponent. In addition, schools are upgrading their facilities at unprecedented rate, in order to help land bigger name recruits. All bent on keeping up with the Jones'--or Miles' and Sabans'.

College football can only benefit when schools have better players and better facilities.

There should be no objection whatsoever to Alabama's inclusion in the national championship game, because the Tide had the nation's second best team this year, and earned the right to play in the game based on what it did on the field.

More importantly, I like ‘Bama playing for the BCS title because it will ultimately make college football better in the long run by forcing other conferences to improve - or pay the price.

Follow me on Twitter: @TPJCollFootball