FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (AP) - Roy Kramer remembers all the fretting when the Southeastern Conference launched its own championship game two decades ago.
“Especially from the coaches,” the former SEC commissioner said Friday, chuckling a bit at those long-ago discussions. “They were convinced that would be the end of everything and we would never win another national championship.”
It sure didn’t work out that way, of course.
The SEC has ruled like no other conference.
Just around the corner is another momentous change to shake up the college football landscape, spurred in part by the dominance down South. Undoubtedly, there are plenty of folks in the rest of the country hoping the four-team national playoff, which starts in 2014, will make it tougher for the SEC to pile up trophies.
Kramer, for one, doesn’t expect much of an impact, just as splitting into East and West brackets and tacking on an extra game between the division champs back in 1992 has done little to damage the SEC’s national title prospects.
“The SEC could very well end up with three of the four playoff teams in any given year,” Kramer told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from his retirement home near Chattanooga, Tenn. “I don’t know that a playoff will significantly reduce the possibility of winning a national title. Some may believe that, but I’m not convinced it reduces the chances at all.”
This much is clear: The current system is owned by the SEC.
The conference is riding an unprecedented streak of six straight national titles, and No. 2 Alabama is favored to make it seven in a row Monday night when the Crimson Tide takes on top-ranked Notre Dame in the next-to-last BCS championship game.
For better or worse, just about every major conference has followed the SEC’s lead from way back in 1992 _ adding news teams, starting their own title games _ but the juggernaut that began it all appears more firmly entrenched than ever.
Over the last 20 seasons, the league has won nine national titles; no other conference has claimed more than four during that span. And the SEC has pitched a shutout since the 2006 season, divvying up six titles among four schools (Florida, Alabama, LSU and Auburn) while the rest of the country looked on enviously, wondering just what it had to do to break the stranglehold.
Last season, when the BCS produced an all-SEC matchup in the title game, the rest of the country screamed uncle.
Or, more accurately, playoff.
Suddenly, everyone jumped on board for what amounts to a true postseason system, albeit with not as many teams as the biggest supporters of the P-word would like.
Kramer has no doubt that Alabama’s 21-0 victory over LSU in the 2012 title game accelerated the demands for a playoff among the other conferences _ even though current SEC commissioner Mike Slive had proposed what is largely the same four-team format several years ago, only to be quickly shot down.