CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

As usual, SEC claims ownership of BCS

With conference champion and No. 2-ranked Alabama set to play No. 1 Notre Dame for the national title Jan. 7, it gives SEC supporters more reason to brag, as if they don't do it enough already.

ATLANTA -- No one down here in Southeastern Conference country was surprised Sunday when the final Bowl Championship Series standings confirmed Alabama would be playing Jan. 7 for the national title.

The surprise is why the SEC isn't playing the SEC again, just like last season.

"Do you think Florida deserves to play for the national title more than Notre Dame?" someone actually asked Alabama Coach Nick Saban on Saturday after his team clinched the SEC with a 32-28 win over Georgia.

Saban did not answer "no."

Covering the SEC title game truly is like entering another dimension of sound, another dimension of sight and another dimension of barbecue.

The way Las Vegas casinos have no clocks, the SEC basically seals off communication from the outside world. There are no press box updates for "other" games around the country.

It took the manager at the hotel bar Friday night 15 minutes to find the Pac 12 Conference title game among his numerous satellite coordinates

Him: "What channel is that on?"

Us: "Um, Fox."

The SEC is fabulous fun and top-notch football with the inferences clear: There are no other conferences and there is no other world.

The SEC has won six consecutive BCS titles and the only priority is to win No. 7.

The opponent, unless it's another SEC team, is really secondary.

What is this "Notre Dame" of which you speak? Is it an FBS school? How long has it been playing football?

Brian Hamilton, my Chicago Tribune colleague and Notre Dame's beat writer, was sent into the Georgia Dome's postgame locker room to get Alabama's reaction to its title-game opponent.

"I don't know a whole bunch about Notre Dame, but I look forward to this game," guard Anthony Steen said.

It was almost as if he was asked about facing Montana State.

You can understand the younger crowd not keeping up with a program that hasn't won a national title since 1988.

Older Alabama fans must know that Notre Dame leads the all-time series, 5-1, and that Bear Bryant was winless in four tries against the Fighting Irish.

When the subject came up, Bryant liked to mention that it was far more important to beat that "cow college" over at Auburn.

Sunday's formal announcement capped another bizarre, if not extraordinary, season for the BCS.

 

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