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Ding-dong the SEC witch is dead

Parody in sports, and especially college football, is what makes the sport exciting


I left the TV a little early on Monday evening. The prospect of the SEC winning their eighth straight BCS National Championship left a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, and I could already hear SEC apologists trumpeting the triumphs of America's greatest college football conference:

   “The second-best team in the South Eastern Conference won the national championship,” they'd say. “The SEC is that good, nobody even comes close.”

Pac-12 fans and writers shoot back with the argument of the west's depth and stronger schedules from top to bottom, but the drawling good-ole-boys from the south can step back and point at the scoreboard.

But I have news: Y'alls reign is over, boys.

Florida State, along with Heisman-winner Jameis Winston at quarterback, got a last-second touchdown to knock off Auburn at the Rose Bowl, the first non-SEC school to win the trophy since 2006 when Texas beat USC. Back then, Dennis Dixon was still tossing passes at Oregon. Matt Moore was the quarterback at Oregon State, and LaMarcus Aldridge was still a rookie.

It's really been that long, and at some point, people start to lose interest. What's the point, if the SEC is just gonna win it again?

Finally, though, things are starting to shift. The balance of power changed in the Pac-12 with the fall of USC, and Oregon readily stepped into prominence along with Stanford. Washington has made massive strides in the last few years, and despite losing their head football coach to USC after a successful 2013 campaign, they should be solid competition in years to come.

The SEC schools, especially Alabama, struggle with fast, up-tempo and versatile teams that can score quickly – Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban went so far as to express his irritation publicly. The better teams like Oregon, Florida State and Texas A&M get, the more Alabama sweats. The best thing, though, about this shift is it promotes the idea the playing field is somewhat close to level.

It's really exciting when your team – the Trailblazers, for example – has a chance to win a title. You'll wear your gear around town and attach those silly little flags to the top of your car. Money for tickets seems to flow a little easier, and you're sure to make it home in time to catch that big game on TV.

In other words, it's about belief. When the same team wins the pickup basketball tournament every year at the health club, you're liable to give up and not enter next time around. But if it's anyone's game, it's everyone's game.

That's why, more than any other reason, I'm excited to see how things shake out in the next few years for college football. Heck, the same is true for the Northwest Oregon Conference: Sherwood is finally gone, and the door is open for somebody else to take their place. Evenly matched teams make for better competition, and meaningful games at the end of the season. Nobody wants to watch the team who is so far behind that they've been eliminated from contention halfway through league play, but they'll show up in droves if the league championship is decided between four teams on the final night.

The NFL does an awesome job of that. Take a look at the wild-card weekend: Philly loses by three, San Francisco wins by a last-second field goal, Indianapolis comes from 28 down to win by one and the Chargers, the last team to get into the post-season, upset their opponent on the road.

There isn't really a way to force that kind of parody at the high school or college level. It has to be organic, and given enough time, any dynasty will fall. It's just important to stay alert and ready, waiting to pounce on the giant once they trip up.

-- @JowardHoward