HOOVER, Ala. — SEC Network analyst Marcus Spears sees one big problem with the SEC. And it looks a whole lot like the road grader Nick Saban has created in Tuscaloosa.
“I would love to see this league be more competitive with Alabama,” Spears told SEC Country at the Wynfrey Hotel last week. “I don’t think it’s good for as much as we talk about recruiting, for as many good players there are in this conference [that Alabama dominates]. I think at some point — and it may have already happened — that people are going to get fatigued with Alabama.”
Fatigued? You bet.
Freedom from the monotony? When that will happen remains unclear.
Believe it, the Alabama machine is primed for another huge season. Reporters have picked the Crimson Tide to win a fourth consecutive conference title. Doing so likely will place Alabama in the College Football Playoff again, giving the Crimson Tide a chance for a fifth national title in nine years.
Indeed, the good times are rolling for the Roll Tide faithful. But for Spears and others, a little variety would be a victory for the SEC.
“For [Alabama], it’s not a problem,” Spears said. “Keep winning. Win as much as you can. But I think in this league, you’ve already started hearing it: ‘Look, the SEC ain’t that great. Alabama carries the banner. Look at the rest of the teams and what they did.’ Everybody has to raise to that level.”
As part of his time at SEC Media Days, Spears spoke with SEC Country about that issue facing the conference and a number of other topics. Check out some of his insights:
Why Alabama needs a challenge: “When this league is competitive and when you don’t know who’s going to win the game before it starts, you create buzz in areas where people don’t watch SEC football. For me, that’s the biggest conundrum. Not only speaking about the West — the East has to have somebody that when we get to Atlanta [for the SEC Championship Game], we feel like it’s a game. Even with Missouri and what they were able to do when they faced Auburn [in 2013], nobody thought Missouri was going to beat them. So I think that needs to come back into the fold.
“Even when I was in college [at LSU], the SEC East was Tennessee, it was Georgia, it was Florida. The West was us and Auburn at the time, and Ole Miss. And that was just exciting. And you could have legitimately one of these three teams from the East and one of these three teams from the West meet in Atlanta, and it was going to be a game. But now, for the past three years, we’re going to build it up and we’re going to talk. But we know what the end result is going to be.”
On Kevin Sumlin’s job security at Texas A&M: “He has to lead them to win nine games to keep his job. Sometimes, in this league, it’s about winning the right games. Maybe it’s not nine, but maybe it’s just winning the right ones. Mark Richt got fired [at Georgia], because he didn’t win the right ones.
“Kevin understands that, though. Look, your AD comes out and says you have to win. That’s pretty much as clear as it gets as far as what the expectation is. And you’ve already won eight games, so when he says you have to win, you need to win more than eight. And the problem is, I don’t know if he’s as talented as he has been the last three years. So we’ll see. It’s pretty warm on that seat right now.”
On recent realignment talk: “I don’t think it’s a legit topic. I’m one of them [who says], ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ You look at this league, and I know we’ve explored a little bit about the 14-week season. Why would you [realign]? Why would you? If you look at viewership and you look at what this conference is doing from a success level, if you look at all the things that have transpired in this league with Alabama having so much success, I mean, two years ago we had four teams in the top 6 of the top 25. You want, always, to continue to explore. But leave it this way.”