Gaze upon the SEC, ye Big 10s, ye Pac-12s, ye whatever the Big East is these days. And despair. In this week's Atlantic Sports Roundtable, we ponder the unthinkable: can any conference dislodge the Southeastern Conference's hammerlock on college football's national championship?
Hampton Stevens: ... the new college football season smells like chicken. Southern fried. Again. And if you're not the kind to have grits for breakfast, the SEC's domination of every other football conference is getting a little dull. The last team from outside the all-mighty SEC to win a national championship was Texas, all the way back in 2005 when Vince Young galloped roughshod over USC. Since then, your BCS winners list reads like the lyrics to a Lynyrd Skynyrd song; Alabama twice, Florida twice, plus Auburn and LSU ... When will the SEC's dominance finally end? And what team will finally end it?
Patrick Hruby: ... the reason SEC will reign supreme long after Alabama constructs an actual pyramid in honor of Nick Saban is simple: Southern college football fans care more. Like, way more than anywhere else. For them, football is manhood, identity, obsession, madness. And that's just the talk radio part of it. So when the inconvenient truth that football destroys children's brains eventually forces the college game to shrink and wither—and mark my words, that day is coming, either via lawsuits or the belated realization that institutions of higher education charged with in loco parentis duties probably shouldn't be sponsoring and celebrating official, organized student activities that inevitably result in brain damage—the South will embrace the sport that much more tightly. It will become the glorious, Yankee-go-home, don't-tell-us-what-to-do Lost Cause of the 21st century: when all you have is pride, all you have is pride ... and War Eagle!
Jake Simpson: ... if any team is going to break the SEC sleeper hold on the BCS title, the Trojans and refreshingly direct quarterback Matt Barkley are the team to do it. How good are the Trojans? No one knows, because they were banned from postseason play last year. But I watched them play UCLA in the annual grudge match between the two L.A. schools, made all the more riveting because 6-5 UCLA was headed to the inaugural Pac-12 title game in 9-2 USC's place. The final was a merciful 50-0—and I say merciful because USC could probably have hung a hundred on the overmatched Bruins. Barkley, the latest in a string of fresh-faced jocks to play QB 1 at Southern Cal, threw for 423 yards and six touchdowns in that game, then decided to return to USC for his senior season. Their regular season schedule is pretty soft—other than a trip to Andrew Luck-less Stanford and blockbuster home date against defending league champs Oregon, the Trojans should be moderate to heavy favorites in every game ...
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