The SEC’s streak of seven consecutive BCS national championships ended last season, but you wouldn’t know it from the glitz and glamour and buzz of this week’s Media Days.
Which is a little surprising. Why? Not only does the SEC lack a reigning national champion, but it also lacks bonafide star power.
Johnny Manziel? Gone. Jadeveon Clowney? Gone. Tim Tebow. Long gone.
“It’s not a star-studded lineup in the SEC this year,” CBSSports.com college football analyst Dennis Dodd said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “That’s not to say they won’t compete for championships and be great, but (there aren’t any big names). I mean, obviously (Nick) Saban is the biggest celebrity when he makes his entrance. But I would submit the two best stories around here are (the suspension of Auburn quarterback) Nick Marshall, who has a chance to be (SEC) Player of the Year. That was Gus Malzahn’s choice. And then (LSU running back) Leonard Fournette – who’s supposed to be the next Herschel (Walker), the next Adrian Peterson – didn’t come (to SEC Media Day) because he’s a freshman. I think the future is in the future for the SEC now.”
What could be a relative down year for the SEC coincides with the inaugural college football playoff. All along, people have assumed that there would be two – or more – SEC teams in the four-team playoff every year. But is that possible this year?
According to Dodd, yes.
“I think that’s likely in any given year,” he said. “I think that could happen this year. There’s a pressure point there that I don’t think many people have thought about. Mathematically, with a four-team playoff, one champion from a major conference is going to be left out – at least one. And if there are two teams from a league in the four, then that means (two champions are going to be left out). What are the ramifications of this? Financially, they’re huge.”
Steve Spurrier, for example, gets a $550,000 bonus if South Carolina makes the playoff. Many top-tier coaches have similar language in their contracts.
“It’s a prestige thing,” Dodd said.
But let’s get back to Saban for a second. SEC Network commentator and radio personality Paul Finebaum has alleged in his upcoming book – My Conference Can Beat Your Conference: Why the SEC Still Rules College Football – that Texas was willing to give Saban a $100 million contract to coach the Longhorns.
One hundred million? Seriously?
“We just got done talking to Nick, and he denied talking to anyone or having any interest in Texas,” Dodd said. “Now, that’s plausible deniability, but you know what? If it was going to happen, that’s probably a realistic number. We are on the cusp of having our first $10 million-a-year coach. He makes seven. I don’t think anybody would blink at 10. I think the question there is how does that then reconcile with a system where the players don’t have comprehensive lifetime medical coverage. We can talk about them not being paid. That’s another discussion point, but I wouldn’t doubt that number at all. I’m not saying it’s accurate or inaccurate. I just think that the market could probably bear it.”