ATLANTA -- The Southeastern Conference is holding its annual political convention here this weekend, and the party is split on its nominee for national champion.
The old-guard faction wants Alabama. The old-guard ALWAYS wants Alabama. And you can understand why. Who else would you want in a national contest against those disgraceful, overrated, no-talent, wannabe, poser, Yankee frauds from Notre Dame, who would not beat a single SEC team if you spotted 'em a 10-point lead, with all due respect?
Nick Saban's Alabama team is the answer to your prayers, and we don't mean that as a figure of speech: The Crimson Tide are an actual answer to actual prayers. 'Bama has proven itself twice in national contests in the last three years. It whipped a group of Texans who think they have Southern values and talent but really don't. Last year, Alabama beat the boys from Louisiana, in what's also known as the greatest game in the history of sports. You can trust Saban.
Of course, there is another faction here that doesn't see it that way. Those folks believe Georgia should represent the South, and uphold all that is right and true in college football and these United States. They think Georgia has a better quarterback (Aaron Murray), and a loaded front seven, and if you ignore what the biased media say, you'll see that Georgia is really the SEC's best team.
The Alabama faction says Georgia is a nice team and all, but the Bulldogs have a history of playing lousy in big games. Just this week, people throughout the South reported receiving robo-calls at home during dinnertime; when they answered, they heard play-by-play of Georgia losing to Boise State last year. Nobody knows who paid for the calls. It's under investigation, which is college athletics' code for "nobody is looking into it."
Nothing against Georgia, the Alabama folks say. Mark Richt is a wonderful fellow. Georgia is a fine football team with some great football players who play football with a football. But the SEC simply cannot afford the embarrassment of Georgia showing up at the national championship game and only beating Notre Dame by 14 points.
Doesn't anybody remember what happened two years ago? The SEC nominated Auburn for the national title. Everybody got swept away by Auburn's Cam Newton Initiative. Auburn won by an 11-1 vote, with the lone dissenters coming from Mississippi State.
And the Tigers absolutely humiliated the league.
Sure, they won the national title anyway. But they didn't do it until the final play of the game against those pretty boys from Oregon. Auburn should have fired Gene Chizik right then and there.
Richt and Saban made their final 2012 stump speeches at the Georgia Dome Friday afternoon. Their differing approaches showed just how they plan to build coalitions for Saturday's big vote.
Saban showed remarkable restraint in only uttering the word "process" eight times. He also tried to appease the base by saying he was disappointed to miss out on last year's SEC title game, even though that season ENDED WITH A NATIONAL TITLE.
Saban also said: "You know, the process is ongoing," a pretty clear indication that he has a few social programs he would like to inflict on those clowns from South Bend. Repeatedly.
Meanwhile, Richt tried to make up for what analysts are calling the "X and O gap," which should not be confused with the A gap or B gap, technical terms we throw out there to look wonkish.
"Most of the times when you're throwing the football, you can protect with as many as eight guys sometimes if you want to; you can have seven� man protection or six� man, or just let your linemen handle it and free release all your backs," Richt said, with a bit too much gusto for some observers. "So if you are going to free release all your backs and all your five eligibles, then you better know who to get the ball to and get it to them in the hurry."
Richt stopped short of saying "See? I study film too!" But Saban outdid him in the final round of campaigning when he closed his remarks by talking about how much he loves and respects the media. The media was not asked if this is mutual. Everybody is pretty much tired of the campaign and ready for Saturday afternoon.
However it turns out, you can be sure that party loyalists will gather for their familiar chant: "S-E-C! S-E-C!" And then one of these teams will go to the national-title game, where the SEC will once again utter its mission statement:
"May the best team win. By a lot."