As college football remains the same, the SEC continues to reign supreme | Marcase

John Marcase
Special to The Town Talk

Indianapolis, which is in the heart of Big Ten country, will be seeing varying shades of red in a few days when Alabama and Georgia meet in Lucas Oil Stadium for the College Football Playoffs’ championship game.

The rematch of the SEC Championship Game is likely to leave fans of non-SEC schools seeing red, as well.

No matter who wins between the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs, it will be the SEC’s 13th national title in football since 2000. In one span, the conference won seven straight championships, and Monday night’s outcome will be the third straight for the Birmingham-based barons of college football.

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The shame of the matter is it doesn’t have to be this way.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey is a lone wolf among the Power 5 conference commissioners calling for an expanded playoff system. Before you think Sankey is altruistic, he is shrewd enough to know that an expanded system also is likely to mean more SEC schools qualify for the tournament, whether it be 12 teams as was agreed upon over the summer, or even 16 schools.

However, once word leaked Oklahoma and Texas were being pilfered by the SEC, the agreement to expand the playoffs went out the window due to hurt feelings.

Ironically, the only ones truly being hurt are all the commissioners and school presidents of non-SEC power schools.

The College Football Playoffs have been held since the 2014 season. The SEC has had 10 of the 16 semifinal participants over that span. It has had a school play in the championship game each year except for the first playoff.

Worse, the semifinals games have been duds with three exceptions — Ohio State’s 42-35 win over Alabama in the 2015 Sugar Bowl, Georgia’s 54-48 double overtime win over Oklahoma in the 2018 Rose Bowl and Clemson’s 29-23 win over Ohio State in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl.

Admittedly, not every semifinal is like LSU’s 63-28 blowout of Oklahoma two seasons ago, but the average margin in the other 13 semifinal games has been 24.5 points. Last Friday, it was 22 points.

Georgia’s 34-11 victory was over a Michigan team Wolverine coach Jim Harbaugh claimed was the best in school history. Think about that.

The other storyline from bowl season has been players opting out, and arguably teams opting out under the guise of COVID infection.

Want to make the college football postseason important again? Expand the playoffs. Open the field to more teams like the Cincinnati’s of the world. How about a Pac-12 school, such as Utah, who lost an entertaining 48-45 Rose Bowl to Ohio State?

Washington in 2016 was the last Pac-12 school to compete in the playoffs. But Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff recently advocated waiting until 2026 before expanding the playoffs.

Incredible!

I guess he doesn’t mind watching the SEC dominate the playoffs while more and more empty seats occupy the Rose Bowl. Ohio State returned 7,000 tickets to the Rose Bowl this year. I doubt that has ever happened before.

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Normally, national signing day rankings are as meaningless as the AP Top 25 after the third week of the season. But 247’s composite team rankings for the December signing period should be a warning to Kliavkoff, the Big 12’s Bob Bowlsby and the Big 10’s Kevin Warren, who all oppose playoff expansion.

Twelve of the SEC’s 14 schools are ranked in the top 25 with Texas A&M, Alabama and Georgia occupying the top three spots. Add in Texas and Oklahoma, the SEC has 14 of the top 25, including five of the top 10. Worse for Kliavkoff, seven SEC schools rank ahead of the top Pac-12 school. The Big 10 has three schools in the top 10 and the Big 12 has none.

Insanity is defined as continuing to do the same thing over and over and expecting different results. College football has reached that point, and the SEC continues to reap the benefits.

John Marcase is a former assistant managing editor and sports editor of The Town Talk. He writes a weekly column.