Let’s go, Kentucky.
If somebody from the SEC East is required to come to Atlanta as a ritual sacrifice on the first Saturday of December, it might as well be an entirely new somebody.
The result is already written: SEC West team uses conference championship to limber up for bigger games to come.
So, at least put a fresh face on the foregone conclusion. Give us a couple of new charming stories to tell before the blood-letting. Let an untried, enthusiastic – if misguided – fan contingent journey to Atlanta with big hopes and fat wallets.
Yes, inserting Kentucky (4-2 in the SEC, 5-3 overall) into the picture would in the near term mean the Wildcats beating Georgia on Saturday – hardly a stretch. What’s one more loss to the Bulldogs at this point, really? There is a greater good to be served here, a fresh coat of paint to be applied to the championship game.
It also would mean Florida (4-1 SEC, 6-1 overall) dropping a couple of more conference games – very possible since the Gators have two SEC West teams still on the docket (Arkansas and a make-up with LSU). We’ve seen the Gators' offense. And who wants to see it again on a bigger stage, a dinner-theater production transported to Broadway?
At least Tennessee's loss to South Carolina on Saturday moved it a step further away from a possible rematch with Alabama in the championship. The Vols already lost badly once to Bama, 49-10 in a game that should have ended with a restraining order banning the Tide from coming within 500 feet of any Tennessee football player.
Of course, in the end it matters little who emerges from the East to play the Dec. 3 game in the Georgia Dome. The divisional disparity is vast and getting vaster. It seems the only cure is a nuclear realignment.
It all began in 2009 when Tim Tebow cried and his tears, like acid, seemed to melt away all competitiveness. Alabama beat Florida that year, and save for Georgia’s near miss in 2012, there hasn’t been an East team since stay close in the championship game. Average margin of defeat in those seven games – including the Bulldogs four-point loss: 22 points.
Kentucky is the only team in East to have beaten a team from the West thus far this season (taking out Mississippi State by two). Otherwise, the West is 7-1 against its little cousins. I’m sensing a trend.
Through the years, Kentucky has won six SEC basketball tournaments in Atlanta. About time, don’t you think, it at least gets to participate in a big conference event featuring a ball pointed at both ends? Especially given a year such as this, when there honestly are no better options.
We’re seeking a volunteer here to serve as Alabama’s heavy bag.
Let’s go, Kentucky.