Is the SEC still at the top of the college football pyramid?

For the past eight years or so, the college football landscape has been at the mercy of the SEC.

Every preseason discussion about the championship contenders centers around the SEC. SEC this. SEC that. We even had a national title game that featured two SEC teams from the same division.

It seems like it’s SEC 24/7 in the sport.

But enemies of the SEC got a big boost this year with the national championship not going the way of the Auburn Tigers of the SEC, but instead the Florida State Seminoles took home the title back to the ACC. Add in the fact that the Oklahoma Sooners beat up on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl, fans against the SEC have had a really great start to the new year.

But it now raises the question: Is the SEC still at the top of the college football pyramid.

I say the answer is still yes, but the gap between them and the other conferences is in the process of closing.

The level of play in other conferences is starting to go up and really catch the SEC. The Pac-12 has been a very entertaining conference the past couple of years and with the resurgence of UCLA and the possible resurgence of USC it will be a very difficult conference to win, even for Stanford and Oregon who have dominated it the past couple of seasons. The Big 12 looks to be on the rise with Charlie Strong looking to bring Texas back to prominence and Oklahoma looking strong for next year alongside Baylor and Oklahoma State. The ACC could also be very interesting with Louisville joining the conference.

And also, it felt like the SEC was on a declining trend. The luster of Alabama fell completely off this year–the coat of seeming invincibility going away. Florida went downhill in a hurry. And while they had like five teams in the top ten every week in the rankings, it didn’t feel like they had the same sort of dominance that they’ve had in the past. Their bowl record this year was still pretty good, but all but two of their games were really close games, with a break here or there really changing the outcome of everything.

Now, I know that there’s still the past eight years’ worth of track record that they have in the bank, and they have been a very good conference for a very long time. There’s no denying that. But sports is a “what have you done for me lately” business and the now matters more than the past.

And now with the college football playoff coming onto the scene, it could be hard for the SEC to hold onto its grip at the top of college football. And maybe we won’t have to worry about those “SEC” chants.

The SEC’s invincibility is starting to wear off.