Open Letter to Chuck Thompson (and all other blasphemers of the Southeastern Conference)

Chuck,


Congratulations on your new book! Simon and Schuster know what they are doing, and I know that they must see loads of potential in Better Off Without 'Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession. The title alone assuredly is generating scores of debate, between admittedly insecure Southerners and ironically pretentious Yanks alike. I've not read it, nor do I have any plans to. I did, however, read an excerpt of the chapter in which you take on (let's stop well short of saying "tackle") the topic of college football and the Southeastern Conference's perceived recent domination of it.

Citing a lot of statistics while omitting a lot of others, you build a case that seems to want to mitigate the recent success of the conference for a lot of reasons. That the SEC hasn't historically been this dominant. That the SEC through geography has an inherent advantage against other conferences. That the SEC through "media manipulation" (your words) has an acquired advantage against other conferences. You lay out a scenario of self-fulfilling prophecy that places an SEC team in the BCS National Championship because of an artificially elevated starting point and not merit.

A lot of records, and a lot of statistics, yet there is one record that seems conspicuously absent. One that seems particularly important to me.

7-0. The SEC record against other conferences in the BCS National Championship since 1998, when the BCS was started.

On the wrong side of a statistic that stout, I'd trot out as much superfluous bullshit as I possibly could, too. And credit where it's due, you do a passable job in laying your argument out, outflanked by facts as you are. So passable a job that I won't bother in quibbling with your position. You are welcome to it, wrong though it may be. I do not intend to get sucked into debating your argument, but at the same time I do not capitulate to it.

I would just like to ask a question.

Your argument seems centered around your belief that the SEC unfairly gets representation that it has not earned in college football's title game. This argument doesn't hold much water with me when you place it opposite the unblemished record I cited above. The one in bold, Chuck. In fact, it seems to me that since half of all BCS National Championships have seen an SEC team defeat a team from another conference, and exactly zero of the other half have seen the opposite occur, that the SEC might actually be due some MORE respect. Perhaps some missing from 2004. Citing that 7-0 record once again, it seems that season's Auburn squad would be a pretty good bet for the crystal football, if only they'd had the chance.

That 7-0 statistic is so strong it almost suggests on its own that the SEC should be guaranteed a spot at the table. Doesn't it?

If not now, when? That's my question for you, Chuck.

Since they are so fun, let's play in some hypotheticals. Let's say that this year, 2012, sees Alabama lose in Week 3 to Arkansas, but run the table the rest of the way and finish at 12-1 after defeating Georgia in the SEC Championship. Let's also say that Florida State and USC go undefeated from the ACC and PAC-12, respectively. In that scenario, you'll never see me say that Florida State and USC don't have legitimate claims to play for the national title, but you wouldn't see me denying any claim Alabama wanted to make, either. Would you deny their claim, Chuck? One loss in September to a Top Ten team, from a conference that has produced the last six champions and has NEVER LOST THAT GAME TO ANOTHER CONFERENCE, and they should be denied the opportunity to say they're the best? Should have taken care of business in September, am I right?

Let's say that same exact scenario plays out in, oh, 2015. And let's add a couple more undefeated teams into the mix. And let's assume that the SEC won the titles in 2012, 2013, and 2014. Huge stretch there, huh? So, we've got Florida State, USC, Michigan, and Texas undefeated at 12-0 or 13-0. And Alabama sitting at 12-1 with an early loss to highly ranked Arkansas. In 2015, we'll have four seats at the table used to decide things, and in this scenario you have four historically powerful programs from four different power conferences, all undefeated. And the fly in the ointment, Alabama, sitting with one loss, easily dismissed were it not for the nine game winning streak its conference is currently (hypothetically) riding. Would nine in a row be enough, Chuck? If not, how many?

How many consecutive titles, Chuck, before the SEC has earned a guaranteed spot? How many opposing conferences vanquished during that streak? We know that six straight is not enough. I assume that nine straight would not be, either. 10? 15? 20? It seems silly, doesn't it? But in 2005, wouldn't a prediction of six straight have sounded just as absurd?

So, if you don't mind, Chuck, just give an honest answer to an honest question. How many consecutive titles does the SEC need to win before they deserve a guaranteed representative playing in the contest to decide college football's national champion?

I eagerly await your response.

Woo Pig Sooie,

BVC


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