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Dixie and College Football Domination

January 1st, 2018 · No Comments · College football, USC

If it seems to y’all that the biggest games in college football involve a lot of coaches and players with drawls and odd names (lookin’ at you Dabo Swinney) … well, you are not just whistling Dixie.

Victories by Alabama and Georgia tonight put two Southeastern Conference (SEC) teams in the College Football Playoff championship game next Monday.

And their collision further solidifies what has become, to those of us living in states that never seceded from the union, a wearying tendency for teams from southern tier of America to play in college football’s biggest games.

Let’s examine some of the numbers.

The Bowl Championship Series decided the title-game teams for 16 seasons, from the 1998-99 season through the 2013-14 campaign.

We are now in the fourth season of the College Football Playoff committee choosing four teams and placing them in the semifinals, with the survivors going on to the championship game.

That makes for 20 seasons but only 18 results — because the 2004-05 game, won by USC over Oklahoma, was thrown out due to NCAA violations involving that USC team, and because the 2017-18 game has yet to be played.

Of those 18 results …

–SEC teams have won 10 championships — Alabama 4, Florida 2, LSU 2, Auburn 1 and Tennessee 1.

–Atlantic Coast Conference teams from the southern half of the conference have won 4 — Florida State 2, Miami 1 and Clemson 1.

That is 14 of the 18 champions, right there.

–The Big 12 Conference has won 1 — Texas. But if we were to include Oklahoma, which was not a state during the Civil War but certainly had inhabitants loyal to the Confederate (and Union) cause, and also because Texas and Oklahoma seem so similar to most Americans that it hardly makes sense to parse them, that would be 1 more championship, Oklahoma’s over Florida State in 2000-01.

Or 16 of the 18 winners.

The only winner from the north of the U.S — New England, the Midwest, the Rockies or the Pacific Coast — to win a national title in those 18 games?

Ohio State, winners over Miami in a double-overtime upset in 2002-03, and winners over Oregon in 2014-15 — which is, by the way, the only championship game since January of 1999 that did not have a team from the South playing in it.

Let’s expand this to teams that reached the final but lost.

We have 18 of those, too.

–The SEC has 3 teams that fell a game short: Alabama, Auburn, LSU.

–The ACC has 5: Florida State 2, Virginia Tech 1, Miami 1, Clemson 1.

–The Big 12 has 1: Texas, in January of 2006.

So, 9 of the 18 title-game losers come from the Confederate States of America.

Again, if we accept Oklahoma among the ranks of southern schools, they have a defeat to contribute, taking us from 9 to 10, overall.

Thus, of the 19 title-game matchups (counting the two SEC teams from the game coming next Monday) involving 38 teams, no fewer than 28 of those teams come from the SEC (15), ACC (9) and Big 12 (4).

The other 10? Just the two Ohio State wins … and eight non-southerner defeats: The Buckeyes (3), Oregon (2), Nebraska (1), USC (1), Notre Dame (1).

So, no, it is not your imagination. Southern teams are in the title game pretty much all the time — the 2014-15 title game (Ohio State over Oregon) is the only exception.

Pretty amazing.

A bit boring, too. Notre Dame-Washington, anyone? USC-Wisconsin, someday?

For now, the college football hierarchy is dominated by southern teams, playing in tough conferences and in a region where football remains very, very important. As much a part of the culture as Nascar and church on Sunday.

Cannot blame those schools for their enthusiasm for the sport, enormous stadiums, highly lucrative TV deals and willingness to pay for top coaches and facilities.

But, yes, it would be nice to mix in Penn State versus Stanford, et al, every five years or so.

Herewith, the scores from the inception of the Bowl Championship Series, through to the College Football Playoff.


1998-99: Tennessee 23, Florida State 16

1999-00: Florida State 46, Virginia Tech 29

2000-01: Oklahoma 13, Florida State 2

2001-02: Miami 37, Nebraska 14

2002-03: Ohio State 31, Miami 24

2003-04: LSU 21, Oklahoma 14

2004-05: USC 55, Oklahoma 19 (USC victory vacated)

2005-06: Texas 41, USC 38

2006-07: Florida 41, Ohio State 14

2007-08: LSU 38, Ohio State 24

2008-09: Florida 24, Oklahoma 14

2009-10: Alabama 37, Texas 21

2010-11: Auburn 22, Oregon 19

2011-12: Alabama 21, LSU 0

2012-13: Alabama 42, Notre Dame 14

2013-14: Florida State 34, Auburn 31

College Football Playoffs

2014-15: Ohio State 42, Oregon 20

2015-16: Alabama 45, Clemson 40

2016-17: Clemson 35, Alabama 31

2017-18: Georgia vs. Alabama



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