Conferences vs. Conferences

Since the subject of conference vs. conference has been broached again, I thought I’d share some data that never gets mentioned in the mainstream media.

As most sentient beings would acknowledge, the default mentality out there is that the SEC is hands-down the best conference in the land, year-in and year-out.  Any data to the contrary tends to get buried, dismissed or shouted down the way the sheep in the book Animal Farm drowned out dissent with their incessant bleating.  Now, I personally think the SEC is the best conference this year (or it looks to be right now), but I don’t see where it is written that I must think this is the case each and every year.  Each season must be looked at on its own merits.  To some, this is a novel concept.

But have a look at the data provided by the website, which has a chart that keeps track of results of interconference play.

Some interesting gems of data emerge:

1. In the BCS Era (beginning in 1998), the SEC and Pac-10 are the only two conferences with winning records against the other BCS conferences.  The SEC is 127-112 (.531), while the Pac-10 is 117-106 (.524).

2. The Pac-10 is the only conference that has a losing record against less than two of the other conferences.  It’s only deficit is against the Big 12 and it’s a narrow one (30-32).  The SEC has losing records against both the Big East (14-19) and the Pac-10 (9-12). 

3.  Of the BCS conferences, the Pac-10 has played the fewest games (38) against I-AA opponents–and it’s not even close.  The other conferences:  Big 12 (86), ACC (85), SEC (78), Big East (66), Big Ten (56).

4.  Since 1998, the SEC has won 467 out-of-conference games.  A whopping 340 of those wins–or 73 percent–have come against either non-BCS-conference or 1-AA opponents.    The Big 12 is even worse in this regard, with 76 percent of its OOC wins coming against such foes.   The other conferences by comparison: ACC (.608), Pac-10 (.632), Big East (.682), Big Ten (.672).

5. The Sunbelt Conference is the great whooping boy of college football, with a winning record against only 1-AA foes since 1998.  The SEC has rolled up more wins against the Sun Belt than any other conference, going 79-4 since 1998.  Coming in second is the Big 12, which is 53-5.  No other conference has played more than 18 games against the Sun Belt during this span.

Now, without a doubt, the SEC has been excellent since 2006.  Besides winning four national titles, it has a 58-38 (.604)  record against the other BCS conferences.  The Pac-10 is 46-35 (.567).  However, the SEC is also 105-7 (.937) against the non-BCS (65-6) and 1-AA (40-1) portion of its schedule during that same stretch while the Pac-10 is 65-28 (.698).  The Pac-10 is 20-0 against 1-AA opponents since 2006, but is just 45-28 against the other non-BCS conferences.  This clearly reflects the Mountain West Conference’s emergence as the strongest of the non-BCS leagues (it is 16-14 vs. the Pac-10 since ’06) and the general rule that non-BCS leagues out West–the ones more likely to play Pac-10 teams due to geography–feature far stronger teams (Boise State, TCU, BYU, Utah, Fresno State) than the ones in the East.  Significantly enough, the Pac-10 also went to a round robin schedule in 2006, which added five more guaranteed losses to its members. 

After looking at just the SEC/Pac-10 comparisons, I believe this backs up my contention that there really isn’t a whole lot of differences between the conferences over time and that the overhype of the SEC is incongruous with the record.  Furthermore, the SEC and the Big 12 are the most prone to pad their win totals by playing lesser competition.  More wins equals a better record, which equals better rankings and more bowls and the benefit of the doubt when it comes to who should go to BCS bowls in the future.  It’s why we hear speculation that a ‘one-loss SEC or Big 12 team’ should go to a BCS title game over Boise State, and rarely whether a ‘one-loss Big Ten, Pac-10, ACC or Big East’ team should.     

Again, this is not to say that the SEC isn’t worthy of hype, or isn’t worthy of being considered the best conference.  But let’s not act like there’s some giant gap between it and some of the other leagues, or that it hasn’t benefitted from playing boatloads of patsies over the years.  The facts are the facts and you can check them yourself.  

Whether you choose to believe them, that’s another story.

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32 Responses to Conferences vs. Conferences

  1. Glen September 24, 2010 at 1:35 pm #

    “Since 1998, the SEC has won 467 games. A whopping 340 of those wins–or 73 percent–have come against either non-BCS-conference or 1-AA opponents.”

    Do you mean they have won 467 games out-of-conference? Because that sentence doesn’t really make sense as is. Obviously SEC teams win more than 10 games a year against BCS foes.

    In any case, percentage of wins against BCS foes strikes me as a much worse measuring stick than simple number of wins against BCS foes. If your conference only won 5 out-of-conference games during that period, but 4 of ’em were against BCS foes, then your conference would lead that stat with 80%.

    Finally – your first couple of paragraphs insinuate that SEC worship is rampant in the media. I agree that you see a lot of SEC praise in the media these days. But that’s only because results have finally made it untenable to have a different attitude. This new state of affairs has only been around for a couple of years at most, and it will vanish instantly if the SEC has a bad season.

    Sans recent overwhelming results, the natural state of affairs is that the SEC is the default whipping boy for the big media, which is primarily centered on the East Coast/Chicago axis, and secondarily centered in LA. Not only are there no major media centers in the Southeast, but the rest of the country has an ingrained attitude of somewhere between hostility and ridicule for all things Southern, perhaps stemming from the civil rights movement days. Try being an Alabama boy who has lived all over the U.S., and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

    Many big-media writers HATE SEC football, and only pay lip service now because they have to do so to keep their cred. Give them a sliver of half a reason to down the SEC and it will happen.

  2. mb September 24, 2010 at 3:18 pm #

    Average NFL Draft Picks per Conference Team during this Decade (2001-2010 drafts)

    1. SEC 34.3
    2. Big 10 31.7
    3. Pac 10 30.0
    4. ACC 29.8 (current ACC configuration for all years)
    5. Big 12 24.5
    6. Big East 19.6 (current Big East configuration for all years)

    SEC has had more NFL talent, but not wildly so. Most telling stat is the average talent in the Big 12…shockingly low.

  3. mb September 24, 2010 at 3:44 pm #

    Average Sagarin Strength of Schedule Rank 2000-2009

    1. Pac 10 19.1
    2. SEC 30.4
    3. ACC 33.4 (current configuration all years)
    4. Big 12 37.2
    5. Big 10 41.2
    6. Big East 62.0 ((current configuration all years)

    The Pac 10 has clearly played the hardest schedules this decade with each team in the conference averaging a top 20 schedule during the time frame. The SEC has played the 2nd hardest schedule during the timeframe. Surprising to see the Big 10 below the Big 12, and by a wide margin.

  4. Glen September 24, 2010 at 3:54 pm #

    Since the Pac 10 went to the round robin, their schedules have been a cut above schedules of teams in other conferences. More in-conference games, and I think HP is correct that the Mountain West has some tougher teams than the lesser conferences in the East/Midwest.

  5. mb September 24, 2010 at 3:59 pm #

    Elite Draft Picks Per Conference Team This Decade (2001-2010 Drafts)

    1. SEC 10.4
    2. ACC 9.3 (Current configuration all years)
    3. Pac Ten 8.9
    4. Big Ten 8.4
    5. Big Twelve 7.3
    6. Big East 4.3 (Current configuration all years)

    SEC not only leads in total draft picks, it leads in elite (1st & 2nd rounders) draft picks this decade.

    Miami had a RIDICULOUS 25 1st round picks this decade. Ohio St was second in terms of 1st rounders with 15 while Texas and USC had 14 each. Florida tied Oklahoma for 5th with 11 each. Georgia, Tennessee and Florida St had 10.

    In terms of elite picks USC and Miami tied with 31. Texas and Florida had 21 each.

  6. HP September 24, 2010 at 7:02 pm #

    Glen, good solid comment, thanks for the response. As someone who has lived in five different Southern States and is by no means an elitist, I know what you are getting at. However, I do think that the overwhelming fan support by Southerners does contribute to a general pandering by the media.

    I meant to write out of conference in that paragraph, sorry for the confusion (now fixed).

  7. Dave September 24, 2010 at 11:16 pm #

    “Now, without a doubt, the SEC has been excellent since 2006.”

    Let’s look at bowl seasons in that time span – not to prove a conference-comparison issue, but to highlight some factors driving media coverage.

    SEC in the last 4 post-seasons:
    4-0 in BCS championship games
    7-1 in BCS bowls, with an average winning score of 39-17
    25-11 in bowl games.

    During that same era:
    Pac-10: 14-10 (3-1 BCS, 0 CGs)
    Big 12: 16-15 (2-4 BCS, 0-2 CGs)
    Big 10: 10-18 (2-6 BCS, 0-2 CGs)
    ACC: 13-20 (1-3 BCS, 0 CGs)
    Big East: 16-6 (2-2 BCS, 0 CGs)

    Those results drive the media narrative. That and eyeballs. Sportswriters don’t pay much attention to their in-box. They pay a lot of attention to their view counts. SEC stories sell for the same reason USC stories sell — everyone either loves them or hates them.

    And like USC, the days of fawning coverage will give way to a blitz of ugly coverage once things turn a bit sour. Media backlash sells just as well (maybe even better) than media adoration.

    One final thought: the real beneficiary of this Pac-10/SEC cross-fire? The Big 12 and the Big 10. Find the metric that establishes them as the “clear number 2,” a role one of them always plays. For that matter, find the Big 12 or Big 10 fan-base muttering about getting left out of a BCS bowl game or championship game. OK, Michigan did for about 30 days in 2005-06. That’s it.

    If Oregon or Arizona or Stanford gets shut out of the championship game or that extra BCS slot, it’s going to be a Big 12 or Big 10 team that gets in the way. That’s been the recent history.

    As far as I am concerned, the SEC has earned its coverage. I’m not blaming sportswriters for leaving out 1998-2005 data in their conference comparisons. That’s not a bias. That’s yesterday’s news.

    • Heismanpundit September 24, 2010 at 11:27 pm #

      With all due respect, Dave, it’s not the SEC that is 4-0 in the last four BCS title games, but LSU, Florida and Alabama. This data is not about what the upper echelon of a conference does in a select bowl game, but about what the ENTIRE conference does against the other conferences.

      It strikes me as funny how people talk about the strength of a conference and it somehow boils down to what the team at the top did in a title game. Were people saying the Big 12 was the best conference when Texas won the title? No!

      Bowl games are great, but the rest of the games count, too. And so do all the teams in a conference. Granted, everyone has a different idea of what makes a good conference, but this meme that has taken hold regarding the SEC–based so often on vague notions like ‘speed’– is just obnoxious.

  8. Heismanpundit September 24, 2010 at 11:35 pm #

    And one last thing. Note that the SEC has been to 36 bowl games in the last four years. That’s an average of 9 bowl teams each year. One of the main points of this post is that the easy scheduling allows for more easy wins and, thus, more bowl eligibility, better rankings and more BCS bowls, which all begets better recruiting and more prestige.

    Imagine if the SEC played 9 conference games instead of 8 and that it didn’t play so many Sun Belt and 1-AA teams and instead was playing home-and-homes with BCS conference opponents and against the better non-BCS leagues like the Mountain West. How many bowl teams would there be at the end of the year? Not nine, Dave. Not nine.

  9. Chris September 25, 2010 at 7:06 am #

    HP said: “Imagine if the SEC played 9 conference games instead of 8 and that it didn’t play so many Sun Belt and 1-AA teams and instead was playing home-and-homes with BCS conference opponents and against the better non-BCS leagues like the Mountain West. How many bowl teams would there be at the end of the year? Not nine, Dave. Not nine.”

    Imagine Pac 10 teams had to play the conference schedule of the SEC. Sagarin has the SEC as the toughest conference each of the 4 last years. The Pac 10 has averaged out to 3rd (2, 3, 4, 3). Certainly this would have affected the Pac 10’s bowl eligibility. Imagine the SEC didn’t tend to play higher ranked teams from other conferences for bowls. Imagine Pac 10 had a conference championship game like other BCS conferences and the Pac 10 and Big 10 commissioners didn’t throw hissy-fits every time other conferences proposed any sort of playoff. Imagine the Pac 10 had invited Boise State to join rather than raiding the Big 12 for one its worst teams. Imagine if the Pac 10 didn’t insist on rigging USC play home games against the Big 10 rather than real bowl games.

    While the Pac 10 embraces competition on certain fronts it clearly runs from it on others.

    • brian December 17, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

      you know in conference games some one has to lose and someone has to win, no matter who plays…its just an opinion of how good those teams are not a gauge to compare vs the nation

  10. Dave September 25, 2010 at 8:20 am #

    HP —

    See, you frame everything as a defense of the SEC. I clearly stated in my post that bowl season results drive a ton of media coverage. I didn’t say those results prove the SEC is a superior conference or that bowl results SHOULD drive coverage. They just do. Sort of like the Heisman going to an offensive skill player on the top team in the Big-10, Big 12, SEC or USC every year.

    How can you say, “Well, on the one hand, Ingram can have a better year than last year and still not win the Heisman, because his bar is higher,” then on the other demand an objectivity that the very existence of your web site proves DOES NOT EXIST. You can’t whine about the lack of objectivity when it hinders your beloved Pac-10 and simultaneously celebrate it in the very name and content of your web site.

    I love CFB, and I roll my eyes when people blame the media because the world doesn’t work they prefer. As an ACC fan, I enjoy watching all the conferences play, and I also roll my eyes when announcers go on and on about SEC speed. On the flip side, Lane Kiffin (AFTER he arrived at USC) said the big difference between Pac-10 and SEC football was the defensive front 7s. There IS a difference there.

    Plenty of people in the media complain about SEC OOC scheduling, and it was the justification for omitting an undefeated SEC team (Auburn) from a championship game — so don’t pretend that’s not out there and that it doesn’t have consequences.

    For what it’s worth, I think this is the year the perception of SEC football doesn’t match up with the reality. It’s the other side of the hype mountain. It’s inevitable, and to echo Glen’s comments, it will be a swift slide from grace.

  11. Chris September 25, 2010 at 9:29 am #

    An interesting test to perform is the acid test… how do the numbers change when you eliminate the best team in the conference?

    It’s very telling that only USC could be considered the best in the Pac 10, while you’d have a debate in the SEC. If you eliminate USC’s games (mostly against mid-level opponents in other conferences) the Pac 10 is 84-100 against the rest of the BCS. I guess this illustrates how close the Pac 10 is to the bottom of the BCS. Remove Florida and the SEC is 112-99 against the rest of BCS.

    Every 6 years the average Pac 10 team plays one more OOC BCS game than the SEC. That’s the mole hill that HP makes into a mountain.

    HP also made a big point of the Pac 10 playing more conference games than the SEC. The average Pac 10 team has played 8.3 games/year (8.1 games/year for the SEC). The Pac 10’s scheduling assures that the best teams play all of the worst teams every year and often just calls it a tie. The SEC’s approach assures the best of the west plays the best of the east in a neutral site championship.

  12. Solon September 25, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

    HP –

    Two issues with this so-called ‘analysis’:

    (1) Bowl games

    It’s a bit disingenuous to throw out these numbers and ignore the fact that all of these conferences are playing bowl games.

    I don’t have time to split up the numbers since 1998, but since 1992, the SEC has gone 77-49 in bowls, while the Pac 10 has gone 47-49.

    And, furthermore, the SEC plays very few bowl games against non-SEC opponents (I believe 10 as opposed to the Pac 10’s 25 during the same period). And, as you mention, the SEC’s 8th, 9th, and 10th best teams are playing in these games – there are a lot of teams that can only manage a 3-5 record in the SEC that are helping to amass that impressive bowl record.

    (2) Your imagined belief that the media has always been all over the SEC

    I understand that your primary beef here is with the media. The problem is that the default view you mention didn’t start in 1998, so it’s illogical to start your analysis from that date and try to draw conclusions from it (it’s akin to me saying “The SEC has been dominant since 1998!” and then quoting the last 4 seasons as proof).

    In reality, though, the recent media obsession with the SEC started in 2007 or thereabouts, and the instigative event was Florida completely and utterly dominating heavy favorite Ohio State in the 1/2007 title game.

    If you truly believe that the media was in the tank for the SEC from 1998-2006, you’re out of your mind.

    There’s a reason that…

    (1) Florida was more than a TD ‘dog in that 1/2007 title game

    (2) USC was going to make that title game ahead of Florida, despite their both having one loss

    (3) Auburn was left out of the championship game in 2004

    (4) The polls ranked USC ahead of LSU in 2003

    (5) LSU was a TD ‘dog to Oklahoma in the 1/2004 title game

    (6) 1-loss Iowa, who had 2 wins over ranked teams (1 in OT) and a home loss to an unranked team, was ranked ahead of 1-loss Georgia, who had five wins over ranked teams, and a neutral-site loss to a ranked team, going into the bowls in 2002

    …and that reason is that the SEC was not universally regarded as the best conference during those years.

    Run the numbers from 2006 on and tell me what they look like, and you’ll find that it’s silly to claim any conference compares to the SEC since then.

    Actually, I’ll go ahead and tell you what the numbers will say – they’ll say that the Big East is the only conference that can hold a candle to the SEC. That’s certainly not a view expressed in the media – it’s always the Big 12 or the Big 10 who is supposedly the challenger for the title of best conference, but never the Big East.

    Why don’t you complain about that instead? Is it because it doesn’t support your promote-the-Pac-10-at-all-costs agenda?

  13. Solon September 25, 2010 at 1:41 pm #

    Sorry, that should be ‘non-BCS’ opponents, not ‘non-SEC’ opponents. Obviously.

  14. Ed Newman September 26, 2010 at 4:21 am #


    While I like your acid test, this is misleading:

    “Every 6 years the average Pac 10 team plays one more OOC BCS game than the SEC. That’s the mole hill that HP makes into a mountain.”

    When you consider the SEC plays 8 conference games and 4 OOC games while the PAC 10 plays 9 conference games and 3 OOC games and the PAC 10 STILL plays more BCS OOC opponents then that is a mountain, not a molehill.

  15. Chris September 26, 2010 at 8:46 am #

    Ed –

    The discussion was about the BCS era and the Pac 10 has only been playing 9 games for 4 years. This is why I said the Pac 10 has played 8.3 conference games/year.

    I would argue that assuring that the top teams in one division of the SEC play the bottom teams in the other would weaken the conference. We also see that the Pac 10’s approach has still resulted in embarrassing ties that the Pac 10 refuses to settle on the field.

    But let’s focus on ranked opponents wherever they may be (in-conference, OOC, BCS, non-BCS). Over the last 4 years, the average SEC team has played 5.7 teams per year that were ranked in Sagarin’s top 30. The average Pac 10 team has played 4.8. And HP wants the SEC to improve it’s schedule? The SEC has played 42 more ranked teams than the Pac 10 and went 39-3 in those additional games. It is in this context that HP’s criticism of OOC BCS games becomes a mole hill.

    Now some might point to Sagarin’s strength of schedule which gives the Pac 10 an edge. But the problem with Sagarin’s SOS is that it is most heavily influenced by the weakest team on your schedule. For example, if Florida had played nobody rather than Charleston Southern last year their SOS would have been 2nd rather than 15th! Why should Florida be so absurdly penalized for a 14th game when no team in the Pac 10 even played a 14th game? A better solution would be to consider the best 10 teams on your schedule.

  16. RM September 26, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    Bama beat PSU Barn beat Clemson LSU beat WVU. And im sure Georgia will beat Gatech and Florida will beat FSU. Kentucky beat Louisiville. The only suck ass team is Ole Miss

  17. Ed Newman September 26, 2010 at 1:06 pm #

    OK, Chris. I see what you did. But it is still misleading. Instead why don’t you compare BCS opponents (in conference or out) per year. Even with the extra championship game not played by the PAC 10 you’ll find the PAC 10 comes out on top (I think that the extra BCS games are the real reason that Sagarin rates PAC 10 highest year after year, not the worst team on the schedule) and the discrepancy will be even greater over the last 4 years (which is a lot closer to the period that the SEC has been considered the top dog anyway)

  18. Chris September 26, 2010 at 3:23 pm #

    I really don’t have time to do the complete analysis, but everything I have done or seen suggests that the top 3/4 of the SEC schedule is consistently stronger that the top 3/4 of the Pac 10 schedule. What turns the tables is the bottom 1/4 of opponents. The weakest game example with Florida was intended to illustrate the impact the weakest team can have on Sagarin’s SOS calcs.

    Let’s look at LSU & Oregon’s opponents last year. These teams had nearly identical SOS. We’ll break them into top 3, middle 7, bottom 3.

    SOS for Oreg v LSU
    Top 3 86.55 v 93.81
    Mid 7 77.23 v 77.27
    Bot 3 67.55 v 59.95

    LSU is much better at the top, there’s little difference in the middle, and Oregon is much better at the bottom. This is the pattern seen again and again.

  19. Max September 27, 2010 at 12:56 pm #

    This is always an interesting debate. I actually agree with HP that the SEC is probably the best conference but it’s not by a wide margin – as wide as everyone has come to believe.

    I think the media has gone crazy for the SEC and heaps praise upon the league, but I also think the league has brilliantly manipulated the college football system to achieve this result.

    The SEC has the system figured out perfectly. Its teams play cupcakes in the nonconference, pad the win totals and stats by beating them 73-0, and as a result receive strong rankings by the pollsters.

    These padded rankings in turn result in the “hellacious” conference schedules constantly being cited by SEC fans. Two ranked SEC teams play each other, a sure sign of how great the conference is. Nevermind the fact that they both just beat Furman, or the Citadel, or some directional school.

    Now, the SEC’s best teams are truly great. I can’t think of anyone better than Bama right now, and Florida is certainly top notch.

    So what does all this mean? Big money. The SEC doesn’t play tough OOC games because it doesn’t have to. It can play 3 cupcakes and still get to the NC game. So why risk a loss against a decent team OOC? This is why Georgia, after throttling Boise St. at home a few years ago, refused to play at Boise in return. What’s the point? There’s a good chance the Dawgs would have lost, and they could still get to the NC game without it.

    I actually look at this with envy. It’s a brilliant strategy, and it results in more revenue, which is reinvested in the programs, which makes them better…it’s all a self-reinforcing cycle. And I’m frankly disappointed that the Pac 10 doesn’t do this more. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not for teams ducking OOC competition, but clearly playing a tougher OOC schedule (which the Pac consistently plays the hardest OOC schedules) isn’t paying dividends for the Pac. They play .500 ball against tough teams, but in the end these are still losses, and the voters punish them for it. This, not the quality of the teams, is why you don’t see more Pac teams winning national titles.

  20. Max September 27, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

    HP, I’m afraid your Orwell references will be lost on SEC folk.

    Just kidding, gang! Trying to infuse some fun jabs in this thread.

  21. Max September 27, 2010 at 2:07 pm #

    HP, interesting that on the same site they list the top 10 weakest OOC schedules of the BCS era. 6 of those top 10 are from the SEC – including 2004 Auburn.

    THAT, SEC fans, is why Auburn did not play for the crystal football in 2004.

  22. Solon September 27, 2010 at 3:05 pm #

    Max, I don’t know if your comment was directed at me, but I agree that Auburn’s schedule was a joke in 2004, and that’s why they didn’t play for the National Title.

    That said, if the conference was as hyped as it is now, they might have. THAT’S my point – it wasn’t. No one was suggesting in 2004 that the rough and tumble SEC slate was such a nightmare that Auburn deserved to be in that title game regardless of their OOC schedule.

    I will flat-out say it, as I said on this site at the time – the SEC wasn’t anywhere close to the best conference in the nation in 2004 (I think it may have been the 4th or 5th best, actually). But no one else – in the media, at least – was saying they were the best either.

  23. Max September 27, 2010 at 4:31 pm #

    Salon, my comment wasn’t directed at anyone in particular. Nevertheless, thanks for your comments. Good to get some factual, non-biased dialogue on here.

    I agree that the SEC hype nowadays is more than it used to be. I seemed to remember that 2004 is about the time that the SEC hype machine began to rev up. I thought I recall Tommy Tuberville saying something to the effect of a one loss (or maybe it was two loss) team should play for the national championship. But it was a while ago and I could have that wrong.

  24. Chris September 27, 2010 at 7:43 pm #

    SEC hype machine? That’s pretty funny coming from “The Conference of Champions” on a site run by a former member of USC’s publicity machine who is still making money by hyping the Pac 10.

    HP’s unsupported assertion is that the media has an enormous bias for the SEC. The only objective measure on this thread reveals that the SEC is under-represented in the very media polls HP claims are part of the “giant” SEC bias. Is there any objective measure that anyone can provide to show that the media collectively thinks there’s a “giant gap” between the SEC and other conferences?

    Football is survival of the fittest – it’s not some socialistic utopia where every Duck, Beaver, Razorback and Gamecock get an equal share of the spoils just for being on the farm.

  25. Dave September 27, 2010 at 9:52 pm #

    That “SEC scheduling trick” Max talks about? Check the Big 12, Big 10 and ACC – they’re running the same scheduling strategies. The only conference that doesn’t? Pac-10. But for some reason, it’s only the SEC that gets attention for it. Check Texas’s schedule last year. For that matter, check out the Big 12 and Big 10’s FCS and non-BCS scheduling. Looks identical to the SEC’s. No one’s accusing them of riding cupcakes to glory. In other words, the inconsistent application of the argument weakens it.

    ADs have simple marching orders. Rule #1 – Make as much money as you possible can. Rule #2 – Make the alumni as happy as you can (really just a variation on Rule 1). That requires bowl eligibility for most programs.

    NCAA rules are real clear on bowl eligibility. If a conference and its ADs put themselves in a position where teams have to play fewer home games and go to fewer bowls, then I hope they have a unique business plan in which that strategy makes them more money. If not, they’re idiots, and the media’s under no obligation to treat them differently.

    However, I do hear a lot about Pac-10 scheduling, so they do get credit for it. And this year, winning more of those games should put them in the driver’s seat for a trip to the MNC game or at least an extra BCS slot. If not, it’ll be a Big 12 or Big 10 that edges them out.

  26. Max September 28, 2010 at 8:40 am #

    Dave, you’re absolutely right…the Big 12 and Big 10 are doing this, too. And it’s a credit to the SEC that they’re able to do more with it than either of those conferences. And with that success will come the scrutiny of the scheduling. They go hand in hand. If TOSU had won a couple of titles, they would be hearing the same thing, I think.

    As I mentioned, I lament that the Pac-10 doesn’t do this more. They are getting some love this year because they’re winning these games, but in most years a .500 record against a OOC schedule this tough is actually pretty good. But it doesn’t win national titles or get BCS berths, which is a big measure of conference supremacy.

    My bigger point is that this is as much about scheduling, media (directly and indirectly influencing the polls), etc., as it is about the players. So when we look at conference strength/superiority, it’s not that the SEC has vastly better players, coaches, and teams. It’s the whole equation: level of competition, media, etc.

    It should also be noted that, all other things being equal (meaning players against players and coaches against coaches, playing similar competition on neutral fields), I do actually believe that the SEC is the best conference…I just don’t think it’s by a wide margin.

  27. Max September 28, 2010 at 8:52 am #


    “Is there any objective measure that anyone can provide to show that the media collectively thinks there’s a “giant gap” between the SEC and other conferences?”

    Yes, it’s called the polls. Let’s face it, voters are human. They can be influenced. And Arkansas beating Tennessee Tech 44-3 at home looks impressive to voters. More impressive than a 20-19 Arizona State loss at (11)Wisconsin. Arkansas, therefore, moved up in the rankings while ASU fell (this is not about their relative position in the rankings, it is about movement/treatment after a win/loss).

    ASU got nothing but punishment for this game while Arkansas gained in the rankings. But this is the system we have, and ASU (and the Pac-10, for that matter) should adjust. They should start playing cupcakes like Tennessee Tech.

  28. Who September 28, 2010 at 11:28 am #

    Max –

    Arizona State gained AP votes after losing to Wisconsin, but teams rarely move up after losses. Take Arkansas… they lose to #1 Alabama and drop 5 spots. Who could argue that ASU’s loss to Wisconsin was more impressive than Arkansas’s loss to Alabama?

    Yes Arkansas moved up 3 spots after beating Tennessee Tech. But Arizona moved up 8 spots after beating the Citadel. If the SEC bias is so massive and pervasive shouldn’t it be easier to show? The only evidence on this thread shows that the SEC is under-represented not over represented in the media polls.

  29. Jerel September 29, 2010 at 7:02 am #

    Max has probably written one of the dumbest statements I’ve ever read in my life.

    “The SEC has the system figured out perfectly. Its teams play cupcakes in the nonconference, pad the win totals and stats by beating them 73-0, and as a result receive strong rankings by the pollsters.”

    In fact, this statement is so ludicrous I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume his post was geared towards the Big 10, and not the SEC. After all, the SEC started conference play weeks ago, while this past week it was the Big 10 that was hanging 65 and 73 points on cupcake teams.

  30. Jerel September 29, 2010 at 7:07 am #

    Dave also shares in the utter ridiculousness of stupid statements today. I honestly don’t understand… You can’t complain that the SEC schedules cupcake teams out-of-conference, when those teams are PAC-10 teams that USC and Oregon play by default. Of course the top PAC-10 teams must schedule strong out-of-conference match-ups, because their conference is garbage otherwise. It’s the exact opposite of the SEC.