It's been seven years since a non-SEC team won the college football national championship. Regional pride being what it is, an impotent sense of inferiority will haunt fans of teams from every other conference until someone finally knocks off the reigning Southern powers. Meanwhile, SEC partisans must be wondering when their particular dynasty will wane, and whose hands will cast the first blow that lands against it. With a nod to Deadspin's old Cultural Oddsmaker column, here are the guesses of one observer, who has spent a low-double figures amount of minutes considering the issues at hand, as to how likely various prominent teams are to end the run of Alabama/LSU/Florida national titledom.
USC: 100 to 1. They're a historically strong program, but my expectation is that USC will soon cease being a place that five-star prospects go to play on a disappointing football team, and start becoming a place that five-star prospects go to not play on a football team at all. "Committing to USC" will be cool teen slang for moving to LA and smoking doobs, and this will eventually leave the team with an empty roster, until everyone's parents figure it out and send them to teen boot camp. USC administrators will be too busy smoking doobs to rebuild the program, and will need to be sent to administrator boot camp.
Texas: 25 to 1. According to this credible-seeming estimate, they have more money than any other team in college football, and they're located in Texas, the overbearing-father/adolescent-concussion/high-school football capital of the United States. The team is in a bit of a rough patch right now, but with the help of those inherent advantages — and millions of concealed handguns — Texas should turn it around soon.
Notre Dame: 15 to 1. They came out of the gate in the national title game with lots of energy and a daring game plan. Even down big, they never seemed dispirited or clueless so much as they seemed like they were just playing against a much better team. It's clear this Notre Dame program is going places, which is nauseating. I thought we had finally finished with all that Touchdown Jesus crap. The only respite now will come when the old guys running football broadcasts — who are permanently infatuated with Notre Dame because it was one of only three programs that existed when they were young, along with Yale and the intramural team from the Department of War — die.
The upside, as always, is that Rudy has been charged with securities fraud.
Ohio State or Michigan: 8 to 1. Two strong Midwestern programs headed back to the top under heralded new coaches. More or less interchangeable for our purposes. Isn't it funny that their fans so staunchly insist on discussing their differences? Besides a mirror copy of himself, there is no one more similar in the entire universe to an Ohio State fan than a Michigan fan. "But I hate Ohio/Michigan," they say. "I could never even consider following a team representing a prestigious research university in a cold, largely forested, largely flat, politically moderate Midwestern state whose economy was based on manufacturing and engineering."
Oregon: 5 to 1. A killer team that hasn't been quite able to get over the top. It's hard to decide whether their triumph is inevitable or if the wide-open title window created by their killer offense — and I just realized that I used "killer" to describe both the team and their offense, a stylistic mistake that I'm too lazy to go back and change — might start shutting without the Ducks having killed everyone (won a title). That's not to accuse the spread of being a "gimmick," or to say Oregon won't remain a good program, just to suggest that their super-elite scoring pace might fall a little closer to the pack as killer new defensive weapons are deployed in football's neverending strategic killing race.
Yale University: 2 to 1. A surprise pick, perhaps, but in the end, the thing that is actually most likely to stop the SEC from winning the NCAA football championship is the inherently contradictory nature of running a bajillion-dollar "amateur" sports league, which will eventually cause a civil war within college football in which the big-conference schools become semi-pro European-style academies, leaving the Ivy League as the only remaining members of the NCAA. And with rising sophomore Thomas Undercuffler — an individual I just selected randomly from their roster page after arbitrarily deciding Yale would win the Ivy League — promising to develop into a force at whatever position it is that he plays, the Fightin' Herbert Walkers are primed to dominate. Indeed, you heard it here first: Yale will soon sit atop the college football world, and things will be just like they were in the old days, before Rudy's terrible financial crimes caused the Great Depression. Go Bulldogs! Undercuffler Fever sweeps the nation!