More dissection fun, here we go, this time another "Ask CFN" (hopefully this isn't another Monday ritual for us every year)-
I’m so sick of you always disrespecting the Pac 10 and always pumping up the SEC and other conferences. The Pac 10 is every bit as good. Didn’t Oregon State almost beat LSU at LSU? Didn’t Arizona State blow out everyone’s favorite Iowa team? How about what USC has done to all the big boys for the last three years? Your bias is getting ridiculous. – JT
Just out of curiosity, I wonder why you didnt mention arizona state was 3-0 against the big10, and also why you didnt mention Oregon states dismantling of ND, and ND team that beat SEC power Tenessee AT Tennessee and also beat Big 10 champ Michigan. Or that the pac10 had the highest bowl winning % of any major BCS conference. Sorry to inform you of the facts. – JA
A: First of all to all of those with a short memory, we were the only ones that consistently had Arizona State ranked ahead of Iowa last year after the blowout loss.First off, a caveat on the Pac-10/SEC schedule. In the Pac-10, its members play all but one conference member every year. In the SEC their members are in two divisions, made up of six teams, of mixed quality, and only face three of the other division's six teams. Any given SEC team may draw all the crappy teams from the other division, or all the good ones. Or a mix.
As I’ve asked most of the Pac 10 fans that fire-bombed me all week, this year, would you rather play a schedule with USC, Cal, Arizona State, Oregon State, Oregon and UCLA, or LSU, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Auburn and Alabama? You’re flat-out nuts if you’d rather play the SEC schedule this year. However …
1) I never said the Pac 10 sucks this year. In fact, I’d argue that it’ll battle the ACC as the most even league in the nation and overall, is probably going to be second behind the SEC. Once again though, Cal’s schedule (Sacramento State, at Washington, Illinois, at New Mexico State, Arizona, at UCLA, Oregon State, Washington State, at Oregon, USC, at Stanford) would be a dream for most BCS conference teams.
2) Oregon State didn’t beat LSU. Coffee is for closers only. Quit bringing up that loss. USC almost lost several games last year, but they didn’t. Losses are losses.
3) Notre Dame isn’t in the Pac 10, and the win over Tennessee has nothing to do with you. That was a weird game coming in the middle of the SEC schedule with the Vols losing their starting quarterback, Erik Ainge, early on. It’s easy to forget what a shell of its self that Irish team was for the bowl game after the Ty Willingham fiasco.
4) You may only bring up last year’s great Pac 10 performances if you also bring up UCLA’s loss to Wyoming, Oregon State’s loss to Boise State, and possibly the worst loss by a bowl caliber BCS conference team, Oregon’s home loss to Indiana.
5) And finally … just because USC is the best team in America, that doesn’t mean the Pac 10 is/was great.
So, no, every year, an SEC team is not playing LSU, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Auburn and Alabama. Chances are any of the SEC Big Six gets three freebies within its division annually, either in the East (Kentucky, Vanderbilt, South Carolina) or West (Arkansas, Missississippi, and Mississippi State). In reality the SEC schedule is not that bad.
The SEC's two best teams last year were LSU and Auburn, and the Pac-10's 4th-5th best team, Oregon State, was a missed extra point or three away from a win over LSU on the road in the season opener.
Furthermore, claims of the SEC's strength lately have been that the conference is tough week-to-week, but I think USC's season last year showed quite well that in fact the Pac-10 is one of the more prolific conferences, where even the bottom dwellers are having success against the elite teams. USC's toughest games last year were in fact, not from tough OOC foes like Oklahoma and Virginia Tech, but from within the conference, specifically Stanford (31-28), UCLA (29-25), Oregon State (28-20) and California (23-17).
Is the SEC really, really so great? No doubt there's an incredible amount of talent in the conference, but we think we're onto something with this sophistication thing, and there's a decent dose of it in the Pac-10. Not surprisingly, most of USC's recent challengers have been from within the much maligned Pac-10.
Just something to consider...
To answer the next submission by PF, Cal's schedule is not a dream. Their OOC slate is inexcuseable (Sacramento State, Illinois, New Mexico State). But, they will get terrific challenges from UCLA, Oregon State, Oregon, and USC.
Next---Yes, losses are losses, but the Oregon State game is quite worthy of bringing up. It was indicative of a weakness with the idea or belief that the SEC is unchallengeably superior to every conference. The public perception in general is that the Pac-10 is a weak conference, but when you find apparent huge mismatches like Oregon State @ LSU in a season opener where LSU basically was the lesser of the two teams on the field, you can't just continue on claiming that the SEC is so all superior.
As far as Notre Dame/Tennessee, most pundits treat Notre Dame as an impotent has-been, its few wins coming against softies on its schedule. Then it beats Big Ten power Michigan and SEC power Tennessee and there's just no explanation as to why, glossed over as a weird game because the Tennessee quarterback got injured. I saw Rick Clausen have a bad game against Notre Dame in relief, but he had a terrific finish after that game. In fact, he looked more impressive leading that team than Erik Ainge. In other words, by accident the Vols got to play their better quarterback against Notre Dame. They still failed. They were allegedly the SEC's #2 or #3 team last year, but we're supposed to ignore that game, as if it's no chink in the SEC's armor? Um...
Next, the Pac-10 had its strange losses last year. When we look at matchups we have to be somewhat honest about some of these games, though. UCLA should not have lost to Wyoming. That was embarrassing for them. Oregon State should have gotten smoked by Boise State, Boise's great! Pete's being silly with that one. And Oregon should not have lost to Indiana. It's weird, but they played much better against Oklahoma than they did against Indiana. Oregon spent much of the game in Oklahoma territory, but could not score. Then Adrian Peterson came out with one of his best runs all of last year, breaking a tackle as he sprinted up the middle, then making this smooth arc bouncing towards the sidelines and cruising effortlessly 40 yards into the end zone.
Two out of those three games were bad. Every conference has bad games, but we have to judge some of these appropriately. For example, Tennessee/Notre Dame!
Lastly, I don't know how to respond to that one. I treat the Pac-10 as a legitemate conference, it has one great team in USC, another great or near-great team in California, and another top 10-15 team in ASU, as well as contenders Oregon State and UCLA. In addition, the conference is due for some reshuffling soon, that's been the tradition, so maybe a return is in line for fomer top 10 occupant Washington State, or maybe Walt Harris can create some magic at Stanford.
In many ways, the Pac-10 is similar to the ACC. The ACC is competitive top to bottom, it has a nice balance all the way through (as Pete Fiutak accurately noted), and its members shuffle from year to year. NC State was doing great three years ago, but now UVA is one of the conference's better squads. And two years from now, things will once again look different.
One of the issues with the SEC is that its Big Six never change, never moving from the leadership. Those Big Six are Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, LSU, Auburn and Alabama. The bottom six (South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi and Mississippi State) are so noncompetitive that not a single member has won the SEC since 1977 when Alabama and Kentucky shared the crown. The last outright bottom six conference champion was Mississippi way back in 1963! That doesn't look very competitive to me.
It is CFR's belief that annually, the conferences vary greatly in relative strength, but that there is no true dominant conference. CFR also believes it is dangerous, reckless, and so far factually inaccurate to annoint a conference without question as dominant and above its peers. For a while now if any conference has gotten that label, it's been the SEC and thus we direct some of our energies to challenge the notion.