The Southeastern Conference has been accused of a lot of things through the years — but a scam?
The league is cutthroat, for sure, and often overzealous in praise of itself.
The SEC is wildly talented and over the top, with many of its fans and announcers in serious need of decaffeinated coffee.
The NCAA has been called in to investigate many times over the years, but no one can remember a summons for the bunco squad.
The sense the SEC is getting away with something took an Internet column turn this week when Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports called the SEC up before the tribunal. "It's a Ponzi scheme, this 2012 SEC fraud, built upon layers of air," Doyel wrote before presumably receding into a witness protection program well outside the barbecue belt.
Others have danced around this topic without jumping to such an extreme conclusion.
Is Doyel right?
Well, of course not.
Well, maybe not.
Well, maybe — but maybe only this year.
The SEC loves to brag of its football superiority in the Bowl Championship Series era, which is easy when you've won eight national titles and six in a row.
It rarely speaks of its mistress, Lady Luck.
Tennessee won the first BCS crown in the 1998 season because Arkansas' quarterback fumbled without being touched. Louisiana State defeated Oklahoma for the 2003 title but really should have played USC, No. 1 in both polls.
Florida lobbied its way into the 2006 season title game and, the next year, LSU became the first two-loss team to stumble in.
In 2008, Florida overcame a home loss to Mississippi. In 2009, Alabama needed two blocked kicks to defeat Tennessee. Auburn, the next year, dodged one near miss after another on its way to winning the title on a last-second field goal.
Last year, of course, Alabama won the national tile without winning the SEC.
The thing the SEC does better than any conference is keep enough of its talented teams high enough in the rankings to pounce on any BCS opportunity. How the SEC positions itself is the subject of the latest inquiry.
Doyel writes that the SEC is "gutless" in its scheduling. He maintains the formula is: "schedule easy nonconference games, win them all, and then lose only to each other in league."
It should be noted that, only a week ago, the SEC was boxed out of the title game unless two of the three non-SEC undefeated teams — Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame — lost. Kansas State and Oregon were then punched out within minutes of each other, instantly thrusting the SEC back into the heart of the hubbub.
Oregon fans wonder how the Ducks dropped behind Alabama when the schools have home defeats to similarly talented two-loss teams.