The HP top 10 candidate list is on deck, but before I put it up, I thought it valuable to recap some things happening in a great commentary thread down below in the post titled more EDSBS.
The best arguments come from someone named John Q. Public, and here are some of them:
I never said that the SEC utterly refuses to test itself in OOC play, only that they don’t do so nearly as much as some other conferences. Look at it this way, if the Pac-10 teams played BCS opponents at the same rate as the SEC, they would have played approx. 48 BCS teams over that timespan. That’s 20 less than they actually did. That’s a HUGE difference. I don’t why bowl games would matter here as we are talking about scheduling practices.
Teams generate revenue by playing home games, not away games. The exception to this is when a big wealthy program pays for a smaller one to come play a game at their home with no return trip (again, see Oregon State and LSU). If Pac-10 teams were only interested in generating revenue with their schedules, then the bigger programs would adopt an SEC mentality and try to play more home games than away games each season, and the smaller programs would seek paydays to come play elsewher and likely not play home games OOC. As it is, every Pac-10 team tries to play 6 games at home, and 6 on the road. As for the SEC, if their interest lied primarily in making money and not in avoiding tough teams, then why would they not seek to buy out more teams like Oregon State, average but dangerous BCS teams that would accept cash instead of a return trip? The answer is that their primary concern is the win, not the money.
Regardless, the reason why the SEC schedules softer teams than the Pac-10’s is mostly irrelevant. The only important fact is that they do, and that this should be taken into consideration when rating the conferences’ teams.
Conference play always adds up to a zero sum. It is impossible to judge the strength of conferences by comparing how their respective teams fared in conference play. That should be obvious. Besides, to justify such a claim the SEC would have to be absolutely dominant against the other BCS conferences, and it isn’t.
The following entries came in response to SEC honk I’m a Realist:
The only exception would be, IMO, the BCS bowls. They are an effective measure because only the very top teams from each conference are invited. Of course, they are only of measure of the best teams of a given conference, and not of the conference as a whole.
Any conference analysis should include EVERY member of that conference. Now, you seem to be talking about head-to-head matchups between conferences, and I would agree that when a top team from one conference beats a bottom team from another it skews statistics. However, you are rarely going to get matchups against teams of equal stature within their conferences facing off, unless they’re two top teams. Therein lies the difficulty and inaccuracy when trying to compare conferences objectively. Besides, at some point you would have to subjectively determine which games be counted, and that leaves room for bias to enter into the equation.
The point of this discussion is not to elevate other conferences above the SEC, only to bring the SEC back down to earth. The SEC may very well be the best conference, however I am of the belief that if it is then the distance between it and every other BCS conference is minimal. Similarly, the Pac-10 may well be the worst BCS conference other than the Big East, but again, the distance between it and the others is minimal at best. Again, I think the facts support this assertion.
I recognize that schedules do not determine the strength of any team or conference, and people in every other sport realize this. However, in college football the vast majority of teams do not play one another in any given year, and so we get these terrible attempts to compare teams and conferences based on very little evidence. Without any actual results to rely on, many fans and pundits base their opinions on ‘conventional wisdom’. Thus, an SEC team with a good record is generally considered to be better than a Pac-10 team of equal record, no matter who they’ve played. With their scheduling practices, more SEC teams have inflated records, which leads to seemingly more impressive wins, which leads to more rankings, which leads to even more impressive wins, et cetera. It’s circular logic, and before you know it the SEC has built a reputation as a strong conference based entirely on what its teams have done in conference. This does not make it better or worse, just unproven. However, the media always seems to give the SEC the benefit of the doubt where it won’t give it to other conferences.
Bravo to John Q. on this one. Interestingly, he seems to have shut up his detractors, who are clearly unable to respond to his logic.