WSJ: The rise of the South (in football)

With #1 Alabama playing #2 Florida for a spot in the BCS National Championship Game the spotlight on the SEC is brighter than usual. The Wall Street Journal joins in the analysis with this piece looking at What the Rise of Southern Football Says About America.

Just how dominate is the SEC now?

Its teams lead the nation in average attendance, have five of the 12 highest-paid coaches in college football and just signed two broadcast deals worth as much as $3 billion over the next 15 years. Tomorrow, Alabama and Florida, ranked No. 1 and No. 2 by the Associated Press, play for the conference title — with the winner likely heading to the national title game.

The engine of this success is college football’s unshakable primacy in Southern culture — plus the recent shifts in population and wealth, the protection of politicians and some prescient financial moves by the conference that have reinforced it.

The story also explores the social impact the sport created quoting one historian as saying football and the military played a major role in changing race relations.

While this isn’t a Forbes story on Nick Saban, it is worth reading. And since it is the Wall Street Journal, I have to say the paper seems to be getting better under its new ownership—and it already was one of the best in the world.