Rant Sports 2012 College Football Writers Roundtable: Part I

Every corner of the nation is ripe with anticipation for the 2012 season kickoff. Before we fire up the grill, invite the friends over and start on that first pregame beer, several college football writers for Rant Sports gathered around to talk about some of the big storylines entering the upcoming season. Four college writers covering various major conferences sat down to tackle some of the biggest questions in the game right now.

Well, maybe we could start on that first beer, for discussion purposes. This is part one of our two-part discussion.

1. We’ve seen the SEC dominate winning the past six BCS Championships, so will it be 7? Do you think this is good for the game?

Justine:  Maybe. The SEC has as good a chance as any conference, and a better chance than many, to take the title AGAIN but it’ll be a good thing for the sport if someone else wins to switch it up. There’s no question that the SEC is a great football conference, but the recent string of success has built it up as the best from top to bottom and that’s simply not the case.

David: I think this is the year that the SEC run comes to an end. USC is the best team in the country and if they are able to avoid any upsets and major injuries, they should win it all. I don’t think the SEC dominating is bad for the game, I just think that people are tired of the LSU and Alabama and want to see someone else win.

Shannon: I think the SEC will dominate again and they may even get two teams back in the championship title game. The SEC East has two contenders for the title in Georgia and South Carolina. The west is loaded with Bama, LSU, Arkansas … and an Auburn and Miss State that won’t be easy games either. The conference is not down, it’s just they have set the standard so high that the other conferences are trying to catch up. The SEC has raised the bar, so I think it is great for the game.

Warren: I think a healthy USC team wins it all this year. And I think SEC dominance is not a good thing overall for college football. Several teams over the years have gotten the shaft, despite being as deserving or more deserving of a BCS bid than their SEC counterparts.

2. Conference realignment is showing no signs of slowing down. What is the future of the game because of this?

Justine: In terms of conference realignment, I see the major conferences with TV deals staying in control. The Big East and Big XII will land contracts that will keep them in business, along with the SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC, which already have TV contracts. We’ll see more schools trying to join those conferences or operate as independents. Some will drop to a lower level, while the independents and the other leftovers may eventually band together to form a new mid-major conference.

Shannon: When I was a grad assistant at Arkansas back in the late 90s, I remember then SEC Commish Roy Kramer‘s vision of conference championship games and this idea four super conferences. At that time, I felt like it was an impossible dream. The old establishment fought hard for years to keep this from happening, but it is clear we are on a collision course for four regional super conferences, and I think it is great for the game.

Warren: The future of the game is 60 top tier Division I schools in the super conferences, and another 60 or so current D1 teams having to drop down to 1AA football. People fail to realize that with the proliferation of super conferences and the mega-TV contracts, those TV execs will have authority and influence over scheduling. They will want all 12 games to be conference games. No more App State vs. Michigan. No more North Texas at LSU. Mid-major D1′s and 1AAs survive on those payout games. Eastern Michigan almost went to a bowl game last year, but they are averaging less than 4,000 fans a home game over the past three seasons. Without the Michigan, Penn State, or Ohio State payout every year, their program literally cannot remain a D1 program.

To read part two of our roundtable discussion please click here.

Justine Hendricks covers the ACC and Pac-12.

David LaRose is also a Pac-12 columnist with a focus on Colorado.

Warren McCarty is a general college football columnist and Shannon Smallwood covers the ACC.

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James Gomez is a Pac-12 and Mountain West columnist for Rant Sports and member of the Football Writers Association of America

You can follow James on Twitter as well.

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