Each year about this time we are reminded that the SEC is a family.
Coaches and administrators will assemble for more family business this Tuesday at a Destin, Fla., resort for the spring meetings, which will continue through Friday.
In the beach-resort setting, you can’t forget how fierce the football competition has become among family members, especially in football.
But no matter how brutal the competition becomes — or how many rivals’ trees perish in the process — the family continues to flourish.
The prosperity is no mystery. It’s as obvious as the Waterford crystal its coaches have held so preciously at the end of the last seven football seasons.
The national championships might be priceless. But SEC football has a huge price tag, which ESPN and CBS are more than happy to pay.
Coming soon: An SEC television network, thanks to ESPN.
It’s enough to make anyone outside the family gag. Just when you think the conference can’t become any more prominent, it wins another championship or brokers another multi-million-dollar deal.
Back-to-back BCS national titles were hard enough for the rest of college football to digest. But “back-to-back” has become no more than a footnote for a league that has won seven consecutive national titles, including several with relative ease.
Agitation is mounting elsewhere.
Last month, a Tulsa World reporter asked Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops about the gap between the SEC and everybody else.
“Well, it depends on what gap you’re talking about,” Stoops said. “What are the bottom six (teams in the SEC) doing?”
Forget the bottom six. How about the bottom four, which last season included Arkansas and Auburn?
Auburn won the national title in 2010. Arkansas finished fifth nationally in 2011.
Ole Miss was the worst team in the SEC in 2011. It won seven games last season. It also came within seconds of beating Texas A&M, which beat Oklahoma by 28 points in the Cotton Bowl.
Check the standings. Ole Miss was in the SEC’s bottom six last season.
Kansas coach Charlie Weis joined Stoops in questioning the overall strength of the SEC by targeting the “bottom six.”
Weis should know something about the SEC’s bottom six. That’s where Florida finished in 2011 when Weis was its offensive coordinator.
This is no time for taking shots at the SEC. Instead, Oklahoma should be applying for membership.
If you had been told in 2005 that the SEC was about to win seven consecutive national championships, Oklahoma would have been on your shortlist of programs capable of preventing such a run.
Ohio State would have been on the same list.
Both have the tradition, the resources and the coaching. And both have had their chances.
Since 2003, Oklahoma and Ohio State each has lost two national championship games to SEC teams.
If I had to pick anyone to derail the SEC’s championship express, it would be Ohio State under former Florida coach Urban Meyer.
But regardless of how formidable a program he builds there, he won’t have the advantage of honing his team against an SEC schedule.
Although he can sign great players, he can’t test them weekly in the SEC. And that makes a difference in the national championship game.
The best way to beat the SEC is to join it.
John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at johnadamskns.com.