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The South Will Rise Again?

The SEC isn't really about that Above-The-Mason-Dixon-Line Life.
The SEC isn't really about that Above-The-Mason-Dixon-Line Life.

For the better part of this millennium, the SEC has overlorded over college football. This is well known, because SEC supporters have been fervent in their broadcasting of this fact. College football has always been a regional sport, and the SEC has been able to assert their national dominance over it without having to leave the comforts of their own gravy-saturated abyss.

Sure, Nick Saban and company rolled into State College, Pennsylvania and kicked JoePa's decaying corpse around last year, but I'm having a hard time thinking of recent marquee games featuring SEC teams outside of the south.

That trend isn't likely to change. In 2012, LSU's out-of conference bangers include Washington and Idaho, both at home. In 2013, they'll welcome TCU and UAB... With a week nine barn-burner against Furman.

Florida, in comparison, has home out-of-conference games scheduled against the likes of Bowling Green, Jacksonville State, Georgia Southern, and Toledo. At least in their defense, they'll be traveling to Tallahassee in 2012 and Miami (FL) in 2013. But In 2014, Florida has home games against Idaho, Eastern Kentucky, and Eastern Michigan.

Auburn gets a little credit. At least this year they're playing Clemson in the arena that hosts the SEC title game. (This is billed as a "neutral site" game.) Although, this gets negated by the fact they scheduled the likes of New Mexico State and Alabama A&M in November. (Auburn has an away trip to Kansas State scheduled for 2014).

Alabama seems somewhat willing to schedule teams, but they have a knack for pursuing "neutral site games." I'm not sure how neutral Arlington, Texas, will be later this year when Michigan and Alabama clash. (Alabama has a November showdown with Western Carolina in the middle of November 2012). Nor am I too sure how neutral Atlanta, Georgia will be in 2014 when the Tide meets Virginia Tech. (Alabama does have a home-and-home scheduled with middling Michigan State in 2016 and 2017, one must wonder how much weight that holds with Saban due to his reluctance to set up the same arrangement with Wisconsin.)

One of the biggest reasons I wanted on-campus playoff games, other than exports like Ohio State football shouldn't be pimped out to other state's service industries, is that southerners do not like the cold. Anybody can enjoy a 70 degree day in December. It takes a little bit different cut of human to weather a low two digit degree day with a subzero windchill factor.

For example, Montana, an FCS powerhouse, has only lost two play-off games to teams south of the Mason-Dixon line since 1986. (They have made the playoffs every year since then.) To me, it'd be fascinating to see how these southern kids -- many of them who grew up in the sun-drenched south and have never seen snow -- fair during a game of swirling winds and snow.

The SEC rarely leaves the South, during the regular season or bowl season. Compare that to Ohio State, who in the oncoming years has games scheduled at California, at Virginia Tech, at Oklahoma, and at North Carolina. (They've also played at USC, at Washington, and at Miami (FL) in years past.)

It's a formula of success which has obviously worked well for the SEC; their trophy cases do well enough in proving that fact. But, as the regionalism and cronyism leads bowls to eventually getting stripped from college football, it's a formula which they may want to re-examine.

Otherwise, should the formula get dumped upside down again in a decade, Alabama might end up playing in Michigan in December, and I'm not so sure that's something that southern sunshine teams would relish.