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Phillip's blog: Conference pride

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Like it or not, Auburn will put Southeastern Conference pride on the line against Oregon in the BCS Championship Game on Monday night.

Phillip Marshall, Senior Editor,

Does the outcome of one game prove one conference is better than another? Of course not. But that will be a big part of the story, regardless of the outcome. Here’s what ESPN analyst Kirk Hebrstreit said Sunday morning:

“This will be a great look at the statistical advantage of Oregon versus the strength-of-schedule advantage of Auburn. And it may help to settle that age-old debate about how good the SEC is versus everybody else. Is that the toughest conference in the nation? Odds are it probably is because of the fact that they have won so many national championships. But Oregon is better statistically. Will that hold up in the game? That's the one thing you can't do on paper. You have got to play the game to find out.”

Auburn finds itself in a strange position. Even SEC fans have been proclaiming for the past month their hope that Auburn loses this game. Alabama t-shirts in Oregon colors have been hot-selling items. The same fans that proclaim they are pulling against the Tigers will accuse them of embarrassing the SEC if they lose and end a four-year run of national championships.

But they are fans, and that’s what fans do.

The SEC’s run is impressive, but it has to be put in context. It was fluke that LSU even got to the game in 2007 with two losses. And it played a virtual home game in the Sugar Bowl. Texas quarterback Colt McCoy went out early with a shoulder injury last season against Alabama.

On the other hand, four straight is four straight. One conference getting five straight championships, won by four different teams, would be off the charts. It’s really off the charts that four different teams from one conference have been in the game for five straight seasons. And in 2004, Auburn should have been in the game.

Oregon coach Chip Kelly made it clear Sunday that the Ducks aren’t carrying the Pac-10 banner. They are playing for themselves. Auburn players have consistently shrugged the shoulders at the idea that many are pulling for them to lose.

The winning team’s conference will get a boost, but in the end, it’s about Auburn and it’s about Oregon. The last two teams standing will play on the biggest stage in the game for the biggest prize in the game.

That's what matters.

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