By: Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Everyone was waiting to ask just one question when Bowl Championship Series Executive Director Bill Hancock hosted a teleconference on Sunday evening following the announcement that No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama have been selected to meet for the national championship.
Should two teams from the same conference be able to play for college football’s ultimate prize?
Hancock says it’s not about that. It’s about pitting the best two teams in college football against one another in pursuit of the national title.
“I get asked a lot about whether two teams from the same conference should be in the championship game,” Hancock said Sunday. “And the answer is: Absolutely. If they are No. 1 and No. 2, they should be in the championship game. Clearly they are in all of the polls that were released today.”
And what a year it has been for the Southeastern Conference. At one point, the top three teams in the BCS standings came from the Western Division of the SEC. Alabama head coach Nick Saban said on Sunday’s teleconference that the 1-2 matchup shows the respect that the SEC receives nationally, and the reality of how difficult it is to win the conference.
“I think it speaks volumes for the respect that the SEC has,” Saban said. “That comes from the quality and body of work that the conference has from top to bottom in terms of good programs, quality coaches and lots of good players. At one point in time in just our division, we had LSU first, us second and Arkansas third in the whole national poll. For those people who say that we didn’t even win our conference, well, how come nobody else was ranked higher than the top three teams in our division, which is only six teams?”
The only blemish on Alabama’s record this season is a three-point overtime loss to LSU in early November. Hancock announced Sunday that LSU’s incredible 13-0 SEC Champion season made for a BCS milestone.
“LSU has become the first team to establish a perfect mark in the BCS standings,” Hancock said. “That is, they are No. 1 by all 174 people and by all six computer rankings.”
Hancock echoed what both coaches said on their respective teleconferences that fans are likely to see a completely different game than the one penned earlier this year in Tuscaloosa. It may be a re-match, but it won’t be a replay.
“I don’t expect this game to be a re-run of the first game,” Hancock said. “Of course, that first one was terrific and it drew a tremendous amount of interest from around the country and fabulous TV ratings. It’s a matchup of two of the best coaches in college football. We’ll be down there in New Orleans – an SEC city – and be a part of the excitement. It will be over the top.”
When all was said and done from Sunday’s media opportunities, it was Hancock who summed it up the best.
“Obviously, it has been an exceptional year for the SEC,” Hancock said. “It’s the best match.”