Roy F. Kramer, Southeastern Conference Commissioner, 1990-2002
When you go to 12 teams in a conference, you can't play a round robin schedule. You don't get a perfect matchup. So to cover that vacuum, creating a championship game -- as we did in 1992 -- made some sense. It's an obvious plus when you have a situation where everyone can't play everyone else.
To tell you honestly, I never had a doubt that our championship game would take on a life of its own. Considering how important football is in this part of the country, it seemed like a natural. But what it's done for the regular season -- which I think is a plus -- I didn't expect.
Now, we have what amounts to two conference races. You have more people in the mix than you used to during the late part of the season. Before, there were tons of meaningless games. Now, this year is a little bit unique, with Auburn having wrapped up the West Division and Tennessee having a hold on the East. But that's the exception. We've had years where we went into the second or third week in November with eight or nine teams still in the running for the conference championship game.
Whether it works for everybody, I'm not here to say. In the SEC, it's a tremendous plus, and our geography works for it, too. Atlanta [home to the title game since 1994] is sort of the center of our area, and it's an easy drive for most of our schools. Football is so big in this part of the country that we felt the interest would be there.
One of the arguments against it is that it prevents you from playing for a national championship. When we started it, the media was saying, "Well, this is the end of the SEC." But if you look, it has not been a deterrent for us. From the first year -- when Alabama won and was able to play for a national title -- to last year, when LSU won, it's worked for us.