Column: Title game brings closure to long season

By Tim Dahlberg

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Jan. 9 2012 2:46 a.m. MST

Not hard to see why. The SEC has $5 million a year coaches, and programs that bring in $100 million a year. It has football traditions that run deep into the fabric of society throughout the South, and it has its way whenever decisions are made in the BCS cartel.

It also has athletes that other conferences can only dream about, linebackers with speed who are the size of defensive ends on other teams.

"I feel like the players are a little bit more versatile and athletic," said Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who is one of those players. "We don't find too many guys that weigh 260 pounds that can run a 4.6 or 4.5 in any other conference or a guy that weighs 200 pounds that can bench press 500."

Whether that translates into a good football game remains to be seen. Unlike last year, there's no Cam Newton, no LaMichael James to stir offensive excitement. The quarterbacks on both sides are suspect, and the fact both teams know each other so well could limit the offense even more.

In an era of spread offenses and teams scoring 62 points in a game, this figures to be a throwback to the hard-nosed defenses of earlier times. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does tend to turn off the casual fan who tunes in to see touchdown celebrations.

Don't blame Alabama or LSU for that. They play a style, and it's main the reason they play so often in the title game.

Blame the BCS, though, for dragging the whole thing out so long that nothing about this championship game feels special.

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Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or follow at http://twitter.com/timdahlberg

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