GWCCA featured in SEC Digital Network Article
SEC Staff member, Sean Cartell, wrote an article about the Dome, GWCC, Atlanta, the BCS and how the SEC Championship game has been the key component of elevating the leagues status over the past 20 years. Inside are some great quotes from current SEC coaches about the Georgia Dome and Atlanta, check it out: Southeastern Conference: Gold Standard
By Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
The Southeastern Conference will never win another football national championship.
That was the sentiment expressed by many of the league’s head coaches in the early 1990s, following the SEC’s addition of Arkansas and South Carolina, which allowed the conference to enact divisional play, an eight-game schedule and create the first SEC Football Championship Game.
“In the early 90s, when Commissioner [Roy] Kramer came up with that playoff game, I said ‘I didn’t even know you could do that,’” said South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier, whose Florida team participated in the first SEC Championship Game in 1992.
The SEC was the driving force in the change surrounding college football in the 1990s, but was met with much skepticism. The initial SEC Football Championship Game match-up between Alabama, a storied program on the road to another national title, and Florida, early in the development of its football dominance under Spurrier, not only worked, but it set in motion a transformation of the sport.
“That first year certainly proved that wrong,” said Mark Womack, SEC Executive Associate Commissioner and a member of the league staff since 1978. “The success that we’ve been fortunate enough to have at the national championship level has proven that you could have a championship game. And, more times than not, our championship game has played a significant role in elevating our team to the 1-2 game in the BCS structure.”
Nine times since 1998, the winner of the SEC Championship Game has advanced to the BCS Championship Game. On eight of those occasions, the SEC Champion has won the national championship. The only exception came in 2011, when LSU captured the SEC Championship, but was bested by Alabama for the BCS Championship.
“The coaches thought it was a terrible idea – that it was nothing but one more roadblock in winning the SEC,” said Ron Higgins, an award-winning veteran sportswriter who now serves as a columnist for NOLA.com and The Times-Picayune. “Immediately, it worked the other way. When the BCS started, it really worked to their advantage. It has been proven over and over again. The SEC game has become, the last seven years, like a BCS semifinal game.”
After playing the first two years of the SEC Championship Game at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala., the decision was made to move the game to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta where, today, the SEC will be contesting the 20th edition of its championship.
“The first two years that the game was in Birmingham were very successful years with large crowds, but we played outdoors and had weather issues in both games,” Womack said. “We had an opportunity to look at moving the game to Atlanta after the second year. As it turned out, it has been a terrific success with the facilities Atlanta has – not only the Georgia Dome facility, but the Georgia World Congress Center, where we could do FanFare, have corporate entertainment, and people could do other events around that game to make that a unique atmosphere.”