LSU and Alabama will play each other at the Superdome in New Orleans tonight. But regardless of who wins the game, one fact remains: the Southeastern Conference dominates college football.
The SEC will take home its sixth consecutive BCS Championship trophy tonight. No other conference has won more than three in a row.
Never since NCAA football championship games began 20 years ago have two teams from the same conference met in the championship game... until tonight.
Despite Alabama losing to LSU two months ago, the two teams ended up #1 and #2 in the BCS poll at the end of the season. Coaches and players on both teams say the rematch represents the talent and skill of the players and coaches in the league.
"What makes our league very, very good, is that there's a lot of good teams and a lot of good competition," said Alabama head coach Nick Saban. "The fact that we have two teams playing in the BCS National Championship game from the same league, you know, speaks volumes for that. That wouldn't occur if you never had lots of good programs."
Many have speculated as to why the SEC has become so dominant. Some say the SEC's decision in the early 1990s to expand from 10 to 12 teams, split into divisions, and play a conference championship game caused the success, while others point to large TV deals luring top coaches or an abundance of high school talent. Regardless of the reason, the results are evident.
"I think it's different styles of football," said LSU center P.J. Lonergan. "Over here at LSU and the SEC we are a lot more focused on running the football and big-time defense. I just think those are different styles of football. We just play different here."
The SEC ended the season with six teams ranked in the BCS top 25. Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart says that is no coincidence because of the importance of high school football in the south."
"I think regionally, when you look at it, high school football, in my opinion, it's so great in the SEC states, the high school football is at a higher level," Smart said. "Coaches are paid more, so the more you play the coaches, the better quality players you get, the better quality programs you get and the better the development of players are."
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