SEC Media Days is upon us. More specifically, it will be upon the Hyatt Regency hotel in Hoover, Ala., from Monday through Thursday in the same sense that locusts fall upon an area blotting out the sun.
Media Days means lots of question, lots and lots of questions, but there’s really only one question the league needs to answer: When is someone going to challenge Alabama?
The Crimson Tide has won the past three, and four of the past five, SEC championship games. The only reason its not five for five is the 2013 Kick Six miracle game in which Auburn beat Alabama to win the SEC West.
The only time anyone came close to beating the Crimson Tide in the past four championship years was in 2012, when Georgia came within four points. The past three games have been decided by an average of 27 points, the worst being last year when Alabama thumped Florida, 54-16.
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The gap seems to be getting wider, and the conference should be concerned.
There’s a difference in being top heavy like, say, the ACC, which has Clemson and Florida State and everyone else. At least that league has two teams at the top. At the moment, the SEC just has Alabama and everyone else. Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban is 43-5 in SEC regular season games in his past six years.
For a moment, it looked like Texas A&M was going to challenge for the throne. The Aggies were 11-2 and upset Alabama 29-24 in 2012, and it looked like Kevin Sumlin was about to build a juggernaut. The problem is the Aggies have gone 8-5 each of the past three seasons.
LSU had its moment in the sun as a legitimate challenger. Then Les Miles got fired and Ed Orgeron got hired, and you can bet nobody in the SEC is worried that Orgeron is about to surpass where Miles was.
Auburn has been an on-again, off-again thorn in its rival’s side, and might be on to something again this year with transfer quarterback Jarrett Stidham at the helm. But Gus Malzahn’s teams have been too inconsistent to give Saban many sleepless nights.
There was that Georgia team way back in 2012, which brings to mind one of those great conference “what-ifs?” The Bulldogs ended the game at the Alabama 5-yard line, and if Aaron Murray’s last pass doesn’t get tipped or if Chris Conley makes it to the end zone after catching that pass, then Georgia wins the SEC championship and surely goes on to beat a Notre Dame team that Alabama crushed, 42-14. That national title would have meant Mark Richt was still in Athens, Ga., as the coach, which would mean Kirby Smart would not be, which might mean Smart would be South Carolina’s coach and Will Muschamp would still be the defensive coordinator at Auburn, and the list goes on.
As it stands in reality, Georgia has never reached that peak since, and the Kick Six is the only reason anyone has challenged the Crimson Tide since.
That’s going to make for some uncomfortable questions for the other 13 SEC schools this week.