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Imagining a World Without Alabama

How much has the SEC's historic run relied upon Alabama's historic run?

If I could will them out of existence, I would.
If I could will them out of existence, I would.
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama has now won three titles in four years, making them one of the greatest dynasties in the history of college football. Wait a minute... I just threw up in my mouth. Anyway, I already wrote yesterday how large of a role luck played in this run, but that is not meant to diminish the accomplishment: EVERY national title requires luck. Winning three just requires more.

But it also requires being really good for a really long time. And that's the most important thing. Bama has not just been a great team, they have sustained their peak, and always been in the conversation for the title. Sure, the narrative has helped them, but they had to take care of business and put themselves in the conversation.

The other dynasty is the SEC's now unprecedented seven consecutive national titles. One of the things that has made this streak so impressive is that it has involved so many teams, not just one dynasty. However, Bama's recent dynasty is threatening that belief, and there are whispers that the recent SEC run is just hitching the wagon to Alabama's historically great team.

While Alabama has been historically great, here's the depressing thing for the rest of college football: if Alabama was merely a good not great team, the SEC likely still wins seven consecutive titles.

There's nothing I enjoy more than thinking of a world without Alabama, but let's just imagine what would have happened to those three national titles had Alabama been, say, an 8-4 team. Still good, but not historically great.

In 2009, Florida was the #1 team headed into the SEC title game. In a world with a mediocre Alabama, Florida likely gets a rematch with LSU instead, a team they completed dominated earlier in the year. Florida wins again and plays Texas in the national title game. I'm sure Texas fans think they beat Florida that year, but that was a pretty great Florida team. They were #1 all season for a reason.

In 2011, an 8-4 Alabama squad doesn't get a rematch with LSU in the national title game and the Tigers instead play Oklahoma St. LSU would be a heavy favorite in that game, but then again, they were a favorite to beat Alabama in the rematch.

And this year, an 8-4 Alabama squad loses to LSU instead of pulling off the last minute heroics. LSU's 7-1 conference record puts them in the SECCG again, where they play Georgia in a battle of one loss teams for the right to beat the snot out of Notre Dame.

Now, it is possible that Florida loses in 2009 or LSU loses in 2011 or 2012* (or UGA in 2012), but the fact is that the SEC would have sent a representative to each of those title games absent Alabama, and that team would have been the favorite each of those games.

*No, it doesn't escape my notice that absent this historic dynasty, we could very well be talking about back-to-back national titles for LSU. The razor's edge, my friends. That's how narrow the margin is between disappointment and talking about your own dynasty. We truly do live in the Darkest Timeline.

The SEC's seven straight titles has encompassed Alabama's historic dynasty. The crazy thing is, the run has not relied on it. The SEC had a very good chance to win seven straight titles even if Saban never sets foot on Alabama's campus.

The rest of the nation is still playing catch up to the SEC. Unfortunately, the rest of the SEC is playing catch up to Alabama.