Phillip Marshall: SEC continues to stand alone

Dec. 29, 2013

Ramblin' aroud ...

The drumbeat is already beginning. Talk show hosts are ready to pounce. So are coaches from other parts of the country. If Auburn doesn’t beat Florida State and win the Southeastern Conference’s eighth consecutive national championship, the claims that the league is overrated will be loud and widespread.

That’s silly, of course.

Top to bottom, no other conference is close. That includes the flavor of the month Pac-12, which interestingly only has one team in a BCS bowl game. In fact, the SEC’s power is what makes the BCS Championship Game hard to call.

Florida State has been far more dominant than has Auburn. I mean, the Seminoles haven’t won by fewer than 27 points but one time this season. They only trailed one time the entire season. Their schedule was extremely weak, but they beat those teams like a great team should. Auburn, on the other hand, played a far more difficult schedule and won three games in the final 25 seconds.

I heard a debate the other day about whether other SEC programs should be pulling for Auburn. ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit said they should, pointing out that, because of Auburn’s SEC pedigree, there wasn’t even a conversation about which one-loss team should play Florida State.

He was right. The rest of the big-time college football world desperately wants that to change and will jump on any real or perceived step back to scream that it should change.

Regardless, the SEC’s streak will not go on forever. And when it ends, whenever that is, it won’t mean the SEC is suddenly gone soft. The streak is already one of the more remarkable in the history of college football.

As for what will happen at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 6, I haven’t picked a winner all season and I’m not going to start now. I will say that, if it’s a fourth-quarter game, I expect Auburn to win.



The talk of Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn being a candidate to be the next head coach at Texas has pretty much died out. Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher appears to be a strong candidate, maybe even the leading candidate. Vanderbilt’s James Franklin and Louisville’s Charlie Strong seem to be in the picture, too.

And there are rumblings that Texas, with almost unlimited financial resources, has still not given up on Alabama’s Nick Saban. It’s going to be an interesting couple of weeks on that front.

It's not official yet, but it looks like Brian VanGorder, Auburn's defensive coordintor in 2012, is going to be the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame. He spent this season coaching linebackers for the New York Jets.

There’s no doubt that VanGorder knows his stuff. There’s also no doubt that he became very frustrated at Auburn. Maybe things will be better at Notre Dame. He’s a fascinating guy and a good guy. I hope he makes it work this time.

Kansas State was quite impressive in smashing Michigan 31-14 in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Next September’s road game at Kansas State won’t be easy for Auburn. Will anybody have a tougher road schedule than Kansas State, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama?

I see high school kids in the various postseason all-star games being treated like A-list celebrities, and I wince. Does anyone really believe that’s good for a 17- or 18-year-old boy? Maybe so, but I would disagree.

I keep hearing that Florida State will have an advantage because first-year defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt was at Alabama through last season and has coached against Malzahn’s offense. I find a that a bit puzzling, since that familiarity didn’t help Alabama’s Kirby Smart or Georgia Todd Grantham or, really, anybody come up with way to slow the Tigers’ running game.

Until next time …


Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for Follow Marshall on Twitter: