I love the SEC Championship Game. It’s the original conference championship, akin to the original chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-A.
Well, admittedly the football game bears little similarity to that tastiest of sandwiches, other than being Southern, darn good, and often imitated yet never duplicated.
But you get the point.
I’ve attended several SEC Championship Games over the years as a fan, casual observer, and media member.
I covered it for this fine publication last year and, in the process, made a dazzling television debut, as CBS featured me prominently in its broadcast. (If you looked closely, you could spot me in the post-game celebration for approximately 1.5 seconds of airtime.)
I’m willing, however, to put my TV stardom aside this year because, as much as I love the event, the SEC should cancel Saturday’s game.
You heard me: cancel the 2018 SEC Championship Game.
Alabama is No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings. Georgia is No. 4. The top four teams make the playoffs for those who’ve lived on a deserted island since 2014, in which case I congratulate you.
Why should Alabama and Georgia beat each other up when both can make the playoffs if they simply don’t play?
The SEC purist crowd – of which I’d like to think I’m a member – typically argues you play the championship game to crown a champion of the nation’s finest football conference.
But if I’m Bama and UGA, I’ll take the title of SEC West and East division champions, respectively, with an eye on the bigger prize of the playoffs and that weird gold trophy that goes to the national champion.
The prestige, pomp and circumstance of deciding a Southeastern Conference champion should be set aside for the greater good of once again placing two SEC teams in the playoffs, thus increasing the likelihood of yet another SEC national champion.
But Banter, won’t the College Football Playoff Committee punish Alabama and Georgia if they sit idly by this weekend, watching other playoff contenders battle for their conference titles?
Negative, ghost rider; at least not if the Committee treats them as they do Notre Dame. The Irish will enjoy an off-week Saturday, take in the day’s action from South Bend, Indiana, and still make the playoffs, guaranteed.
Our SEC teams should do the same. Except not from South Bend. I hear that place is terrible.
Banter says cancel the SEC Championship and give ticket-holding fans something of real value in exchange, like a One-Hit Wonders of the 80s concert. Or, the Broadway musical edition of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”
Hang on, I’m being told there’s not a Broadway show of Christmas Vacation – what kind of world do we live in? Make it happen now and I’ll happily play the part of Clark W. Griswold.
On the off-chance the SEC doesn’t heed my call and presses on with the game, it’s breathtaking how much respect the Las Vegas oddsmakers have for Alabama.
Georgia is 11-1, its only blemish a loss to LSU in Death Valley, and is playing its best football of the season.
And yet, Alabama is a 13-point favorite! What’s more, thanks to Alabama’s well-deserved brand, the Tide will earn a spot in the playoffs even if Georgia defies the doubters and wins Saturday.
Which brings me full circle to the critical point: Chick-fil-A’s original chicken sandwich is darn good. And, there’s no point in playing Saturday’s SEC Championship Game.
SEC Officials Continue Negligent Streak
Please answer this multiple-choice question:
I am seemingly untrained, unfamiliar with the regulatory scheme I’m charged with enforcing, entirely unaccountable, and 100% indifferent to the consequences of my poor decision-making.
I am a:
A. IRS employee
B. Generally any government worker
C. Southeastern Conference referee/official
D. All of the above
The answer is “D,” clearly, but Banter is focused on “C,” the SEC referees/officials. Last Saturday’s Texas A&M-LSU game was the latest in a streak of SEC officials’ atrocious game management.
The SEC is college football’s preeminent conference with the highest quality on-field product. When officials’ subpar performance diminishes that quality, it’s a problem.
Perfection isn’t the standard. Referees are human and will make occasional mistakes.
But the conference – and the players, in particular – deserve referees befitting the quality of the overall product. They certainly don’t deserve the consistently poor officiating and game management we’ve seen from SEC referees the past several years.
The SEC should act now and overhaul its entire referee/official program. A nice start would be to fire all of them tomorrow. Barring that, at the very least hold officials accountable for their poor calls.
To recap, Banter proposes (i) cancelling the SEC Championship Game, (ii) firing all SEC referees, and (iii) making a Broadway musical of “Christmas Vacation.”
About as likely as an SEC team not winning the national championship, but hey, you don’t get what you don’t ask for.
Ben Prevost writes SEC Banter during the college football season. He can be reached at SECbanter@hotmail.com