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First Goal: Win Your Conference

By Patrick Snow

2007 - What a crazy and dramatic season of college football. It seems like the Number 1 or 2 position in the national polls is the most dangerous place to be this year. As hard as it may be for many teams to adjust to all the parity, I believe it’s been more difficult for the fan bases to change their perspective on this “new era” in collegiate ball. As schools pay their coaches higher and higher salaries, it’s hard for many supporters to realize that their team cannot win every game every season.

The truth is that college football is a zero sum game-some one has to lose when some one else wins. As more teams improve their recruiting and coaching, we’re seeing a trend develop where traditional powers are not as dominant as they used to be. That fact has left many fans disappointed each year as their BCS chances seem to fade early. My belief is these fans need to quit sweating the National picture so much and worry about winning their conference. For example, a debate has come up recently whether or not Georgia fans would like Tennessee to go to the SEC Championship game, and therefore possibly increasing the chances that the Bulldogs would get a BCS at-large bid (Sugar Bowl). I say there’s no question what the UGA fans should be hoping, and that is for the Vols to lose one of their last two games and for Georgia to play LSU in Atlanta. The opportunity to win an SEC Title should be the goal of each team instead of any at-large Bowl bid.

The landscape has changed enough in college football that if you win your conference, you’ll be in the hunt for National titles. I’m sure when West Virginia lost to South Florida, many fans thought their Championship hopes were done. However, they kept winning games and now have an outside shot at the Big Game if they get a little help from LSU or the Big 12 teams. With the way the season has gone, that seems to have a great chance of happening. It’s becoming increasingly clear that if you take care of business locally, all of the bigger/national goals will fall into place.


* Apparently the parity in college sports applies to hoops as well. Kudos to the teams of the Atlantic Sun for their great start. Mercer, Gardner-Webb, and Belmont beat BCS foes USC, Kentucky, and Cincinnati respectively, and all by double digits.

* It’s definitely a tough time to be a sports fan in Miami. The Dolphins are headed for a perfect record (the wrong way), the Heat have 1 win, and the Marlins are looking to ship out 24 year-old All-Star Miguel Cabrera. Meanwhile, the Miami Hurricanes could not have had a worse last game in the Orange Bowl as they were pummeled by Virginia, 48-0. And to top it all, “Sticky Icky Ricky” is back with the ‘Fins. Brutal.

* Both wildcards in the AFC could conceivably come from the South. Jacksonville and Tennessee are both 6-3 and currently ahead of Buffalo and Cleveland. They both have huge games this week against AFC West opponents. The Jaguars host the Chargers, and Tennessee travels to Denver for Monday Night Football.

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