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Mitchell: Congrats to Bama, but...

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 2, 2012


After surrendering more than twice as many yards in its toughest games of 2012 vs 2011, and benefiting from some particularly cushy scheduling, forgive us for questioning Bama’s conference supremacy

By Russ Mitchell
Follow me @russmitchellcfb

Congratulations to Alabama for clinching its second SEC championship in the last four years, and for likely being the odds-on Vegas favorite to win a third BCS title during that same span.

However, you are hardly alone if you question whether Alabama is indeed the best team in the SEC.

PULLING BACK THE CURTAIN

There will be more than enough columns praising the Capstone during the coming weeks...much of it deserved. Alabama rolled over Georgia’s defense Saturday, handing the Dawgs D its worst statistical loss of the season (in terms of total yards allowed (512), rushing yards allowed (350), etc.). More even than UGA's triple overtime loss to Michigan State in last year's Outback Bowl.

However, the 2012 Bulldogs have only played three teams in the top 25, and have now lost two of those, giving up 67 points in the process. Meanwhile, yet another freshman ran all over Alabama like Sherman through Atlanta, this one Georgia's Todd Gurley (5 ypc on 23, 2 TDs), after TAMU's Johnny Manziel (5 ypc on 18) and LSU's Jeremy Hill (4 ypc on 29, 1 TD). What’s more, on Saturday Bama surrendered seven carries to Gurley in excess of eight yards...four that went 10+.

This is the weakest Alabama's defense has looked since 2007. Granted, that’s still better than the majority of college football, though it's worth noting in light of the following observations.

In its only top-shelf games this season, Alabama is 2-1, and was truly outplayed by LSU in one of those W's. Moreover, in these games, Bama surrendered a stunning 1,247 yards, 830 of them passing. Compare that to allowing just 557 total and 353 passing yards vs. their three best opponents of 2011 (Arkansas, LSU & LSU), and only 766 total and 533 passing yards vs. their three best opponents of 2009 (Virginia Tech, Florida & Texas).

Yet here Alabama stands...Champions of the Southeastern football Conference for the year 2012.

SCHEDULING INEQUITIES, AND THE IMPACT OF CONFERENCE REALIGNMENT

Meanwhile, Florida, LSU, Texas A&M & South Carolina all stand on the sideline thinking, "But for scheduling..." They’re not alone, and as we continue expanding the size of our conferences, these growing scheduling inequities are a fact all of college football can expect to deal with on an accelerating basis.

Scheduling has always been right next to rosters and coaching in relation to winning. But with 14 SEC teams now to fit into 12 games, these inequities are beginning to stand out even more sharply. LSU and TAMU lost to Florida, the Tigers in The Swamp, while Bama skirted past Mizzou and Tennessee, with their three conference wins between them (one each vs. Kentucky, and Mizzou's OT win vs...UT).

Meanwhile, Florida played LSU (6-2) and TAMU (6-2) and beat them both (TAMU in College Station), while Georgia waltzed past Ole Miss and Auburn - again, with only three conference wins between them.

Had this Bama team played LSU's conference schedule, it's quite reasonable to see it losing to either Florida or South Carolina with a seasoned Marcus Lattimore. Even more likely had the 2012 Bulldogs played LSU and TAMU.

Most importantly, this problem will only deepen in the coming years. As we have been arguing for nearly a decade, 16 team conferences are a financial inevitability. When that happens, even at nine conference games, these inequities are going to get uglier and negatively impact the sport.

As such, it is only a matter of time until college football adjusts with a 13 game regular season to support more conference games.

WIN-WIN

This year, the SEC clearly had greater parity at the top than it has for a while. Nevertheless, the bottom line is that favorable scheduling and prior year comparisons notwithstanding, Bama finished the season 11-1 - an “SEC” 11-1 - and will represent the conference against Notre Dame in the BCS title game. Likely bringing home a seventh consecutive BCS crown for the SEC.

Care to guess what Alabama's 2013 schedule looks like?


Russ Mitchell is the lead SEC Columnist for CFN. Follow him @russmitchellcfb