Schadenfreude, even vicarious schadenfreude, is something I should not enjoy, but do. Seeing sportswriters run out of superlatives and, in many cases, have to pull out the salt and pepper for their serving of crow is something I very much enjoy. Calling them on it when they don't is even more fun.
Truly, the dynasty that is now Alabama and the group of teams that comprise the SEC (some of them, anyway) have proven, as if it actually takes seven years in a row to remove all doubt, that football must have been invented here. Okay, maybe it wasn't, but there is little doubt now that in the crucible of the SEC, college football has been perfected.
The Alabama Crimson Tide didn't just beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish last night. It wasn't even a beat down, really, so much as an emasculation of a very good defensive football team. Notre Dame hasn't impressed anyone all year with their offense, and they didn't impress anyone last night, either. But almost everyone expected them to defend well, an expectation that was with us right up until kickoff. After that, expectations for Notre Dame went the way of the Dodo, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, and the 8-track tape player. Obsolete. Extinct. Dead.
A couple of columns I read this morning encapsulate the media reaction, one in a good way and one in a bad way. Let's first go with the bad: Pat Forde.
Sherman, set the Wayback Machine to Sunday, November 25th, 2012. Quoth Forde then:
My friend Clay Travis, who runs the excellent SEC blog, "Outkick the Coverage," was the voice of SEC arrogance Sunday morning on Twitter. Quoth Clay: "Notre Dame will be destroyed by either Alabama or Georgia. Seventh best team in SEC. At best."
Let me repeat that I'm a fan of Clay's and enjoy his work, but this is ridiculous. Notre Dame may indeed lose the national title game, but I don't foresee a blowout and an Irish victory would not be an outlandish outcome (especially if the opponent is Georgia).
[Khan voice] Noooo, Forde. You can't get away. From Hell's heart, I stab at thee...
Still think Travis was "ridiculous," Pat? You, sir, were dead wrong, and he was dead right. Let's just get that straight.
Now back to the present, to read what Forde wrote today:
Notre Dame? Beat it. You can join Ohio State and any other cold-weather northern team in playing some lesser bowl, against some lesser opponent from outside the league where they pick their teeth with the splintered bones of Yankee intruders.
That would be the Southeastern Conference, which has won seven crystal footballs in a row and clearly is never going to lose again in a title game.
You would think Forde held this position all along, wouldn't you? I'll give him credit, that first paragraph is a very nice turn of phrase. I wish I'd thought of it.
But does Forde offer up a taste of crow, an apology to Travis? Nope. Don't mind that man behind the curtain, the one who said Alabama might win, but won't dominate -- when almost all Southern sportswriters who had, you know, actually watched Alabama play were fairly certain that the Tide would run over the Irish.
Then we come to this:
Alabama is in full-on dynasty mode, winning its third title in four years. Florida, LSU and Auburn have all contributed to the SEC's crystal football haul as well.
(You fans of Tennessee, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas? Shut your mouths. Your teams have contributed nothing to this historic run. Stop bragging on other teams' work.)
First of all, Forde, I'll make you a proposal: You quit living vicariously in Rick Pitino's pants, and we'll quit living our football dreams vicariously through the SEC. Mmmkay? Deal there, buddy?
As a 2-10 football team, Kentucky fans have no real right to bask in the reflected glory of the SEC's football success. Consider us a black hole of football despair, sucking up the culls and dross of whatever scrap of credibility we can from our association with the same conference as the various BCS champions. In return, we offer them eight NCAA Basketball titles for the collective showcase, so to consider us non-contributors is true only in the most narrow sense.
And I think the Georgia Bulldogs, at the very least, should be exempted from this admonition. The Dawgs were five yards away from being the team that stood against Notre Dame, and in doing so would have beaten the Alabama team that just ate South Bend in one elephant-sized bite. I guess that November 25th article, and the SEC championship game took place six days after that, was just so last year. By the way, Forde, I think if that last play had gone Georgia's way, we'd be having the same conversation, and I think you do as well. Now.
Next, examine Gregg Doyel's column, where he owns up to his error:
The gap between the SEC and everyone else isn't getting ridiculous; it is ridiculous. The SEC is so clearly superior to the rest of college football that the SEC's conference title game in Atlanta deserves to be one of the two national semifinals in 2014 when college football does away with the SEC BCS national championship brought to you by Nick Saban -- and ushers in the four-team playoff.
Most years two of those playoff teams will be from the SEC. Some years, three. You think not? Only if you're as dumb as I was on Nov. 21, when I outsmarted myself by studying schedules, breaking down the nuances of who SEC teams had and had not beaten this season, and deduced that the SEC is overrated.
God help me, I wish that's all I'd written. But it's not. I also wrote, and I quote, "It's a Ponzi scheme, this 2012 SEC fraud, built upon layers of air."
Memo to Pat Forde: This is how you own it, and deal with it. Learn from this, because this should also have been, in some form or fashion, in your piece. Maybe not as abject, because you were more equivocal except that you called a guy "ridiculous" who actually got it right. Doyel did exactly the same thing as Forde did back on November 25th -- studied the schedules and concluded the wrong thing.
Was all this just to gig Forde? Yeah, mostly -- they guy just pushes my buttons. To be honest, almost all writers, including yours truly, have a somewhat convenient memory when it comes to predictions that don't go our way, and I am picking on Forde as much for his history of offending Kentucky fans as anything else. Heck, I don't even like Clay Travis, and pointing out a case where he was right isn't normally what I'd do, but I do think he should send Forde a deep-dish crow pizza and get to watch him eat it for being singled out as "ridiculous."
As an equally important matter, this column is to congratulate Alabama on a thoroughly dominant performance. The BCS championship probably isn't that big a deal to a lot of Kentucky fans, considering how historically awful we have been in football and how particularly awful we were this year. To me, though, the performance of SEC teams in general and Alabama in particular is very impressive over the last seven years whether or not it reflects on other SEC schools in any meaningful way. I should carve out a special exception for Florida this year, not because they lost, but rather because they acted like a bunch of entitled jerks on the way to embarrassing the league.
Also, I think that Notre Dame deserves credit as well. Yeah, they got stomped, but nobody can say that they aren't back from the purgatory to which they have been consigned for many long years. Unfortunately for Irish fans, it may be several, even many, more before the Irish win another title, because to do so, they will have to upset some team or other from the SEC.
And if it happens, it will be an upset.