SEC has even more reason to gloat
Published: Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 4:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 4:45 p.m.
GLENDALE, Ariz. - So you're a college football fan in the Midwest or living on one of the coasts, and you've already had it up to here with Southeastern Conference arrogance.
Sure the SEC is good, you think. But sometimes those coaches, players and fans - especially the fans - sound like the rest of the country is playing intramural compared to what goes on in the Deep South.
For you, SEC hater, the bowl season was a disaster.
"I do think people get tired of hearing us talk about how good we think we are," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said.
Ohio State had the last chance to slap some of that swagger out of the SEC on Monday night by taking down Florida in the BCS national championship game.
Many outside the South believed the Gators got into the title game only because the media had bought into the SEC's self-importance and influenced the poll voters who helped set the BCS finale.
The Gators' response? Florida 41, Ohio State 14. They were speaking for the whole SEC.
"I could name four or five teams in the SEC that could probably compete with them and play the same type of game we did against them," Florida defensive end Jarvis Moss said after the game.
Four or five? OK, that might be a bit much. However, which team are you taking on a neutral field, LSU or Ohio State? How about Tuberville's Tigers, the team that beat Florida, or Ohio State in a bowl game?
The Gators' romp was the final statement of a 6-3 bowl season for the SEC, with victories over Notre Dame, Nebraska and Virginia Tech.
"In 12 years in this league, this is the best year from top to bottom," Tuberville said by phone Tuesday.
The Fighting Irish did well to hang with LSU for a half in the Sugar Bowl before all those future NFL draft picks simply overwhelmed the Irish. That game in the Superdome was 41-14, too.
Before the Gators played their best game of the season, many were touting LSU, which lost road games to Florida and Auburn, as the SEC's true best team.
Auburn won the Cotton Bowl 17-14, beating a Nebraska team that played for the Big 12 championship. Georgia beat Virginia Tech, the Atlantic Coast Conference's most talented team, 31-24 in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.
And remember, neither LSU nor Auburn won the SEC West. Arkansas took that crown and gave Florida a good run in the conference title game before falling 38-28.
The Razorbacks lost 17-14 to Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl, one of the few bright spots in a 2-5 postseason for the Big Ten, during which its best teams were exposed.
A week before Ohio State was humiliated by the Gators, Michigan got run out of the Rose Bowl by Southern California, 32-18.
That Game of the Century in Columbus between the top-ranked Buckeyes and No. 2 Wolverines in November doesn't seem quite so important a month and a half later.
Credit, Florida coach Urban Meyer. He knew those Big Ten teams hadn't faced the kind of competition his team had to withstand. He was unfairly criticized for lobbying for his team to make the BCS championship. He was unfairly criticized for supposedly disparaging Michigan, which he never did.
Meyer simply ran down the facts. Pundits scoffed at Florida's inconsistent offense. Meyer pointed out that the Gators played six teams ranked in the top 35 in the nation in total defense, five of them SEC rivals.
The Gators played too many close games, the doubters said. Meyer noted style points shouldn't mean much when nine of the eight conference opponents the Gators played earned bowl bids.
Speed is king in the SEC, but that theory, too, gets a bit old. Ohio State has fast receivers and runners, fast linebackers and defensive backs.
The speed that's still somewhat unique to the SEC teams is at defensive line - and the perfect example of it was Florida's demolition of Troy Smith and the Buckeyes.
Defensive ends Derrick Harvey and Jarvis Moss, both in the 255-pound range, could not be blocked by Ohio State's 300-pound offensive tackles. Everything broke down from there for the Buckeyes and they gained only 82 yards Monday night.
By the time Tuesday had arrived, Meyer - his first national title in hand - was done making a case for his team and his league.
"I don't have time to validate," he said. "We're fine. We're OK. We played very good teams. Check the NFL draft and watch all these young people go and play, and watch the great coaches and D coordinators. We play in a great conference. I don't want to get into that because then someone will take it as disrespect to some other conference. I don't know if I even have to go there."
No you don't, coach. It's a good lesson SEC fans. We all know how good your football is. No need to gloat.
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