The Southeastern Conference has a problem. An Alabama problem.
This is nothing new. Alabama has been the SEC’s alpha football program literally from the beginning. Alabama won the first SEC championship in 1933 and shared the title a year later with Tulane.
Yes, Tulane, which left the SEC after the 1965 season.
Just a month ago, when Troy left a smoking crater in LSU’s football schedule, it looked like…
LSU won the SEC in 1935 and 1936, pulling even with Alabama. The Crimson Tide took the trophy again in 1937, and that was pretty much the death of parity in the SEC.
Alabama has the most SEC titles (26) — more than the next two schools combined (Tennessee 13, Georgia 12). It has the most national titles in the wire service/BCS/CFP era (11), which is plenty. So Bama, stop counting that national title in 1941 when you finished third in the SEC.
Lately, Alabama’s dominance has become more pronounced, and frankly, boring. The Crimson Tide has won 20 straight SEC games since losing to Ole Miss 43-37 more than two years ago, won three straight SEC Championship games and seemingly has been ranked No. 1 since Bear Bryant was a cub.
The way Bama has won this season has been frightening. Texas A&M gave the Tide a tussle in College Station, only falling 27-19, but in five SEC games the combined margin of victory for Bama is plus-200.
That’s 40 points a game, topped off by a 66-3 drubbing of Ole Miss.
Still feeling as good about LSU’s 40-24 win in Oxford last weekend?
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The disparity between Alabama and the rest of the SEC has never seemed greater. While the Red Elephants are rampaging toward more trophies, four teams — Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee and Vanderbilt — are all 0-4 in conference. It’s as though there’s only so much oxygen in the room, and Bama is sucking up more than its share. Dynasties aren't good for anyone but the one doing the dynasty-ing. Bama is so good, the rest of the SEC looks weak by comparison.
Can anyone can stop the Crimson Tide Express? How about No. 3 Georgia? The 8-0 Bulldogs are off to their best start since 2005 and a near lock to represent the SEC East in the conference title game. Still, a big gap there, too.
Veteran oddsmaker Danny Sheridan said on the “Paul Finebaum Show” last week that Alabama would be a 14-point favorite over Georgia if they meet in Atlanta.
LSU is expected to be a three touchdown-plus underdog when the lines go up Sunday night for Saturday’s game in Tuscaloosa (7 p.m., CBS). In 1994, LSU was a 27-point underdog at Florida, but that was when the Gators were No. 1 and LSU was struggling through the last of six straight losing seasons. It’s impossible to remember a ranked LSU team (the Tigers were No. 23 in last week’s polls) being this big an underdog to anyone, anywhere.
Cornerback Donte Jackson began watching more film and took practice more serious.
Bama is the bane of the entire SEC, but it’s even worse at LSU. That’s because the man with four national titles in 10 years at the Capstone used to be LSU’s man.
In 2000, before Nick Saban’s first season at LSU, you could've walked up to any LSU fan and said the following: "He’s going to come to LSU and only stay five years before leaving for the NFL. He’s eventually going to wind up at Alabama and make it the nation’s top program. But in those five years you’ll win a national championship and two SEC titles. Deal or no deal?”
I still maintain there's not a single LSU fan who would have said no.
No surprise Saban left after the 2004 season for the Miami Dolphins. And there was a chance he could come back to college football and make life hell for the Tigers and everyone else. The tough part to swallow in Tigertown is that as good as Saban was at LSU from 2000-04, he’s an even better coach now.
He has virtually perfected his craft.
Yet it isn’t like Saban is some sort of wizard. Bama doesn’t do anything radical on offense or defense. He has simply managed to create an assembly line of No. 1 recruiting classes while drilling his players into operating at an incredibly high level of efficiency and intensity, week after week.
LSU coaches made changes to the team's kickoff coverage during the off week, and coach Ed Or…
Once again, it is LSU’s turn to try to slay the dragon. The odds are long, but the Tigers have a chance if they’re at the top of their game. In terms of talent, LSU is as close to Alabama as anyone. While the Crimson Tide’s average recruiting class ranking the past four years is, well, 1.0, LSU is second-best in the SEC with an average of 4.4 (Georgia is third at 7.0).
If not LSU, someone needs to knock the Crimson Tide off its perch, for the good of the conference overall.
Until they do, the SEC’s Alabama problem will only grow, the chasm between its top program and all the rest becoming wider.