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OMG Speeeedddd!  Even the waterboys are fast, Jesus himself couldn't escape the clutches of any generic SEC defender, the leagues coaches can shoot lightning bolts through their eyeballs...

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Reader Comments (22)

How can you knock the SEC when you yourself have five SEC teams in your top 15-ish (top 15+lurkers).
October 12, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKevin Donahue
I'm knocking the ridiculous perception of it.
October 12, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
You and HP are one-trick ponies. I'm done with both of you. Don't be surprised when it's just the two of you left in the room.
October 12, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterOh Brother
I guess you've missed all my hundreds of other non-SEC, non Pac-10 entries.
October 12, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
Maybe I haven't been around here long enough, so I apologize if over time you have answered the following question, but I'm not clear on the CFR stance:
Is the argument (A) that the SEC is not the best conference (but some other conference is); or (B) the whole notion of trying to rank conferences is futile at anytime; or (C) we can rank conferences, but any criteria we use must be applied after the season plays out; or (D) none of the above.
If (A) or (C), what are the criteria you believe to be reliable?
October 12, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLtrain
SEC is 58-65 in Non Con BCS games in this decade
October 12, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTrojanHorse

No worries.

To answer your question: none of the above.

A comes the closest, but it's more like, the SEC sometimes is the best conference, it sometimes isn't.

But that notion itself for whatever reason is almost never expressed by mainstream media or the SEC lackeys who use the SEC superiority talk as a wedge on things like "any undefeated or 1-loss SEC team deserves to play in the national championship game" and a million other arguments.

All of which is nonsense.

Everything must be evaluated individually and independently and free from these silly notions of superiority. Sometimes the SEC is best, sometimes it isn't. But you'd never know it listening to the talking heads or half my readers. And don't get me started on Tim Brando.

But no other conference enjoys this fawning, this inaccurate assessment. None.

I mean, look at this week's SI cover: "On any given Saturday the Southeastern Conference proves it's the toughest in the country"

First of all, define toughest? As in toughest to get through undefeated, toughest physically, etc. None of this is well supported, it's just sloganeering and the media buys it up whole cloth.

Or, we go to page 54 where Phil Taylor's story begins:

"With six teams in the top 25 and more speed and NFL prospects than anyone else, the SEC is the best, toughest, wildest conference in the land"

The only fact there is the most NFL prospects and six teams in the top 25.

But no assessment is made about those top 25 teams. Personally I'd BARELY have Georgia in the top 25, but because of this prevailing and faulty logic, teams like the Dawgs get the benefit of the doubt with pollsters and media (thus the No. 14 and No. 16 rankings this week) and then SEC lackeys pump up these facts to continue to bolster the league's credentials when they aren't always accurate or fair. Arkansas went from unranked to 17th in the AP poll. That's a huge jump by any measure for a team whose coach was on the hot seat a week ago. Perhaps the voter were a bit hasty, no? Especially if Auburn is now 11th in that same poll. It's one of those "well, which is it?" type situations, is Auburn that good to let Arkansas jump that high or is Auburn an 11th ranked team that got beat by a team that should probably be in the fringe of the top 25 but suddenly finds itself at 17th?

The downwind effect of years of this talk is that it dumbs down the college football public, its media, etc.

You get Herbstreit and Corso (IIRC) saying any undefeated or one loss SEC team deserves to be in the title game.

Well what if Michigan and Ohio State come into their game at 1-2 and Florida's three but both play a great game and show they're both the top two teams and Florida shows some weaknesses?. Does this repeated mantra start echoing in peoples' heads and on the talk shows and suddenly the loser gets bumped by voters out of a NC game because of some silly talking point?

What the SEC is right now is a league with two elite teams, two above average teams, two good teams and six bad teams. So it's basically like every other conference. But because of all this talk, we keep on believing it's better than it really is.

I agree with people that there's more talent in the SEC than other conferences, but it's not by some hefty margin. Right now there's not a QB outside of Ainge or Leak that would compete for a starting job at any of the best schools in the Big East or WAC, let alone good teams in the Big Ten or Pac-10. Most of the league's secondaries would be ritually shredded in the Pac-10 or Big 10. Those big, stiff, lumbering backs like Arian Foster or Alley Broussard or DeShawn Wynn or Kenneth Darby would be ineffective in half the offenses around the country but they're the centerpieces of several SEC run games. The Georgia backs have been trumped as something fierce for three years now and to date I remain completely unimpressed with each and every one of those guys. The league's over-aggressive defensive schemes would be bludgeoned at SOME point if forced to hold up against a 9-game slate in the Pac-10 or the Big Ten. That touted Tennessee LB corps from a few years ago with Kevin Simon etc., those guys were a bunch of stiff, slow dudes who had no idea how to play in space.

All of this and much more is conveniently ignored or glossed over etc.

Now, some will respond with this or that about the Pac-10 or the Big Ten or whoever. And they're probably correct. But that's the point. There's flaws to everyone, the SEC has its way of doing things just as other leagues have their way of doing things.

It's brutal EVERYWHERE in college football, but in the steamy backseat of the SEC media orgy all of that is ignored or dismissed, if not outright mocked.

We can all do better. That's part of the reason I'm here. Sometimes I'm right, sometimes I'm wrong but I'm right on this one and myself, HP and occasionally a few others are those lonely voices of dissent saying "now wait just a minute". No harm in speaking up other than the occasional blowback, but that's public discourse.

Luckily some media voices are starting to hear the arguments. Forde had a few good things to say recently, I think Maisel's starting to turn (said something along the lines of NEVER giving the SEC the benefit of the doubt ever again---he shouldn't have ever given ANYONE the benefit of the doubt, in order to do his job properly---but it's a small gain).

Anyway, I could go on, but I'll stop here.

October 12, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
Taken from a poster on the wearesc.com

Stats from 2000-2005, rankings based at the end of the year:

SEC vs. OOC Top 10: 3 - 20 or 13%
PAC-10 vs. OOC Top 10: 9 -17 or 35%

SEC vs. OOC Top 25: 21 - 40 or 34%
PAC-10 vs. OOC Top 25: 23 - 40 or 37%

Based on these stats, how can anybody think that the SEC has outperformed the PAC-10?

Look at these stats by the "Top" teams in the SEC vs. OOC Top 10 teams:

Florida: 0-6 or 0%
Georiga: 0-1 or 0%
Auburn: 1-2 or 33%
LSU: 1-2 or 33%
Tennessee: 1-3 or 25%

Out of the 12 teams in the SEC... .only 8 or 67% of them have played aTop 10 team OOC. NO TEAM FROM THE SEC HAS A WINNING % AGAINSTRANKED TOP 10 TEAMS.

The PAC-10?

USC: 5-2 or 71%
Oregon: 2-1 or 66%
UCLA: 0-1 or 0%
Arizona St: 1-3 or 25%

Out of the 10 teams in the PAC... . 8 or 80% of them have played a Top10 team OOC. TWO TEAMS FROM THE PAC-10 HAS A WINNING % AGAINST RANKEDTOP 10 TEAMS.

Not only does the PAC-10 have a better record against Top 10 and ranked teams... but they play more of them.

SEC... # of OOC games against Top 10 teams played: 23 or 1.9 games per team
SEC...# of OOC games against ranked (Top 25) teams played: 61 or 5.1 games per team

PAC-10... # of OOC games against Top 10 teams played: 26 or 2.6 games per team
SEC...# of OOC games against ranked (Top 25) teams played: 63 or 6.3 games per team


The SEC does schedule a weak conference. From 2000 - 2005, the SEC has scheduled 30 Div II teams. 11 of the 12 teams in the SEC has played a game against a Div II team in this period. The PAC-10? 17 games with 7 teams in the PAC-10. Another stat... based on Sagarin, let's compare OOC games against Bottom 100 teams(means ranked 100 or "lower"). SEC has played 169 teams lower than 100 ranked by Sagarin (Div II-A automatically constitues Bottom 100). That computes to an unbelievable average of 2.34 games per team per year. Considering that teams typically play about 3 or 4 games OOC per season.. the SEC is playing a majority of their OOC scheduled games against Bottom 100 teams!! The PAC-10? The PAC-10 has played 80 teams against Bottom 100 teams, which computes to about 1.3 games per team per year. Based on the information above, it looks like the SEC plays a Bottom 100 team on average one more game per year than the PAC-10... and the PAC-10 switches that up by playing one more ranked team than the SEC. So regardless of how the bowl games are set up when the PAC-10 plays a mid-conference, the PAC-10 still plays more ranked teams than the SEC.

Let's also look at the head-to-head matches... PAC-10 vs. the SEC.

Overall: PAC-10 is 7-3 against the SEC from 2000-2005.. updating this through 2006, the PAC-10 is 8-6.

"Better" (defined as at least .500 in-conference) PAC-10 vs. "Better" SEC: 3-2


PAC-10 (w/o USC) vs. Top 10 Teams: 21%
SEC (w/o Auburn) vs. Top 10 Teams: 10%

PAC-10 (w/o USC) vs. Top 25 Teams: 29%
SEC (w/o Georgia) vs. Top 25 Teams: 30%

Practically the same. So take out the best performing teams ofeach conference... and you get basically the same record against rankedteams.

The big difference... USC has won 2 championships... Georgia? Well... you know the answer.
October 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJae
Jae--I do not think that post is particularly compelling.

First things first, because it's so easily refutable--the idea that USC has won two national titles since 2000, while Georgia hasn't won any doesn't really prove anything other than that Pac 10 teams have been unable to beat USC, while SEC teams--most notably Florida and Auburn--have been able to beat Georgia. Georgia wasn't failing to win national titles because of non-conference losses. Because of the nature of college football--i.e., not having a playoff--I've never really understood why people think winning national titles proves anything. If it did, throughout the 1990's the Big East and ACC were among the most dominant conferences--something only a fool would argue.

I also do not think that any SEC school has played a Division 2 school in the last several years. Stanford did play a Division 2 school last season, UC-Davis--and they were defeated at home. SEC teams will occasionally play 1-AA schools.

From 1992-2005 (when the SEC became a 12 team league), here are the numbers:

Games v. BCS teams/year (per team):
Pac 10: 9.72
SEC: 9.54

Games v. non-Div 1 teams/year (per team):
Pac 10: 0.18
SEC: 0.29

Overall non-conference record v. BCS teams:
Pac 10: 118-120-3 (.496)
SEC: 125-104-1 (.546)

Overall non-conference record (all games):
Pac 10: 345-176-4 (.681)
SEC: 455-164-2 (.734)

I am not sure how anyone could argue that the minor difference in scheduling accounts for so many additional wins. You could argue that SEC teams schedule (e.g.) easy BCS opponents relative to Pac 10 teams, but this would be difficult to demonstrate--and, to save you the trouble, if you study it (as I have) you'll find that it isn't the case.

The benefit of these numbers is twofold; first, they have a very large sample size that dilutes the effect of outliers (for example, in the records v. OOC Top 10 teams quoted above, USC has played 7 out of 26 Pac 10 games listed in the sample, which certainly is not going to give you a number indicative of true "conference" performance); second, these numbers have a reasonable starting point--when the SEC became a 12-team league--as opposed to having some arbitrary start date that helps me achieve my desired conclusion.

Let's face it, it's pretty convenient for the Pac 10 that the sample quoted starts in 2000. Even if you only expand the sample size back to 1999, it compromises the Pad 10. In 1999, the Pac 10 went 19-18 in non-conference games against 1-A opponents, including a 5-10 record against BCS schools, and a rather pitiful 1-4 mark against Mountain West teams. To their credit they did manage to cobble together a winning record (3-2) against the mighty Sun Belt Conference that season.

You can go back to 1933, and you'll never find a year where the SEC did so poorly--and they've never had a champion as indistinguished as 1999 Stanford.

Oh, and just one other set of numbers for those who love to make the "SEC is populated by bottom feeders" argument without actually doing any research:

Records v. BCS teams:
Pac 10 (without USC): 93-105-3 (.470)
SEC "have-nots": 42-45-0 (.483)

Perhaps, if it is argued that Fla, Ga, 'Bama, LSU, et al. beat up on the so-called "bad teams" in the SEC, these same arguments should be applied to USC, since against a similar subset of non-conference teams--BCS opponents--the rest of the Pac 10 performs just as well as these "no-hopers." Oh, wait--actually, it doesn't.

The difference is, of course, that to win the SEC you have to go through some good teams to win the conference title--something USC apparently doesn't.
October 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSolon
One thing, CFR--I think you overstate the effect of the national perception on the SEC.

First of all, the talk obviously has little impact, given that USC was #1 in the polls over #2 LSU in 2003, and both USC and Oklahoma were ranked ahead of undefeated Auburn in 2004--despite all of these teams having the same number of losses.

It seems pretty clear that the pollsters look at other factors, including non-conference competition and so-called "style points" when making their judgments. The default notion of the SEC as the best conference--which is, of course, not a new idea--doesn't seem to trump everything when it comes ranking teams.

I'm also not too clear on your talent assessment. Tennessee and LSU each went for well over 200 yards rushing on Cal and 'Zona. No one back did overly well, but that speaks more to each game's competitiveness than their inability.

Also, you are severely overstating how bad the QBs are in the SEC. In addition to Leak and Ainge, all of the following are legitimate QBs: Wilson ('Bama), Cox (Auburn), Russell (LSU), and Woodson (Kentucky)--if you don't these guys would have the starting jobs at Washington, Oregon State, UCLA or Arizona right now, you are out of your mind. And, while it's arguable, you could make a case that any of these guys might have the jobs at Stanford or Arizona State right now as well.

And say what you will about Tereshinski--who is bad--but the UT D had a lot more trouble with him than they had with Longshore, who is a lock to be the 1st team Pac 10 QB.

And as for the Big 10 QBs--would you prepared to say that any of the ones I listed are not as good as Stocco, Painter, Cupito or Stanton? The only Big 10 QBs who are head-and-shoulders above the SEC guys are Smith, Henne and Tate.

The case for the SEC being the strongest conference, rightly or wrongly, is predicated upon their defenses; as a result, I can see where one would try to denigrate SEC offenses in order to argue against it (you and HP have been doing it for a couple of years now). But the truth is, there's not a large gap between the SEC and the other conferences on the offensive side of the ball.

Whether the SEC actually has better defenses than the rest of the nation is an other argument entirely.
October 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSolon
CFR, I enjoy your commentary, but I think you more than a little off with you statement "Right now there's not a QB outside of Ainge or Leak that would compete for a starting job at any of the best schools in the Big East or WAC, let alone good teams in the Big Ten or Pac-10". While this certainly is a transition year for SEC QBs, which has lost many standout QBs over the last 1-2 years (Cutler, Campbell, Greene, Shockley, Croyle, Jones), it's not accurate to say that at least a few of the SEC's proven/unproven QBs (Russell, Tebow, Stafford, Mustain, Perrilloux ...) would at least compete for a starting job at the best schools in the WAC.
October 13, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterruteger
Not that it would be possible, but that is why I would like to agree on what criteria to apply, and then indendently of the results, find a way to objectively apply that criteria.
Jae makes a very compelling and factually sound argument based on 2000-2005, cumulative. Solon makes a very compelling argument for 1992-2005. Why not 2 years, why not 10, why not 15, why not run them all and see what the results are? It is a very difficult exercise, but it is fun to argue about.
Another aspect: First, I think Salon is right, SEC may get hype but I'm not sure if that affects ultimate outcome;
Second, you can complain about the hype, but as long as the interest is what is, the media is going to report accordingly, i.e.
2005 Attendance Figures:
Top 20:
SEC (7) - over half the conference;
Big10 (5)
Big12 (4)
ACC (2)
Pac10 (1)
Ind (1)
I do understand that fan interest is independent of quality on the field.
October 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLtrain
In 2004 the media loved the Oklahoma and USC talent versus Auburn's talent. Statements like this were commonplace throughout the entire fall of 2004"there is no doubt that the two most talented teams in the country will be meeting in the BCS championship game.

Your argument that the media loves the SEC is ridiculous....when you campare the talent in Auburn's back field in 2004 vs the talent in Oklahoma's backfield. Jason Campell was better than Jason White, the two starting nfl RB's on Auburn's team were pretty good as well.
October 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGabe Harris
Ltrain: just an FYI, I have run the numbers--with all the conferences--and the only thing noteworthy about recent history is how close the conferences are now. The SEC and Big 10 are actually pretty even from 1992-2005 (relatively speaking, they've got a big edge on the next conference, which is the Big 12), but the SEC has a pretty substantial edge on every other conference throughout every segment of history back to WWII.

I haven't finished compiling records from 1933-1942--from when the SEC was formed to when teams were affected by the war--and it's possible that the Big 10 was better during that period. But the SEC was certainly not a slouch during that historical segment.

As long as I can organize it all coherently and convince Orson, I'll probably run it all on EDSBS during the offseason. Should be something for everyone--toughest schedules, historical fluctuations, conference parity--a good amount of stuff to chew on in the offseason. And you're right, it doesn't really prove a whole lot, but it's fun to talk about, and pretty interesting if it's your thing.

And, rest assured you are correct--getting all the information took me forever, and the end product is pretty math-intensive. Which is probably why no one's done it until now.
October 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSolon

Did you miss last weekend's ESPN GameDay? It was an tongue-bathing for the SEC.

Or did you miss this week's SI cover and story?

More of the same.

Is there a Tim Brando ridiculous homer and hater of literally everything else in CFB not named SEC ANYWHERE for any of the other conferences?

When's the last time any other conference had such a cover on SI? Has it ever happened?
October 13, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
CFR - still waiting for you to address Solon. You were quick to jump back on Gabe.

Solon's got you pinned for the count.

6... 7... 8... 9...
October 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSilence
Not that it excuses Brando from being a jackass, but he is a commentator for CBS, which has an exclusive national broadcast contract with the SEC. He probably isn't discouraged from his blatant boosterism. The larger point is this: You can't blame this "SEC effect" on purely uninformed media and fandom (though they certainly may deserve some of it), to wit:

See Stewart Mandel's recent mailbag on Cnnsi.com
where he comments on the lack of television coverage for the Cal/Washington State game this weekend.

That is inexcusible. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/writers/stewart_mandel/10/11/oct11.cfb.mailbag/1.html

I'd love to watch that game and see more of how good Washington State is or isn't.

If you want the nation to get onboard with the Pac-10, it would help to get the Pac-10 on board too.

October 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLtrain
Solon doesn't have anyone pinnned.

I'm not spending half my friday parsing the numbers, we've done that a million times now.

The original argument stands, Solon's argument stands, however much of it actually addressed what I was talking about anyway...
October 13, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
I appreciate that Silence thought my argument was definitive, but the truth is that the numbers are what they are.

I don't think CFR particularly thinks that the Pac 10 is a better conference than the SEC year-in year-out, or vice-versa--which I'd agree with.

I would take issue with the implication that I am "parsing numbers"--on the contrary, since the Pac 10 sample quoted by Jae starts immediately after the poor season the Pac 10 had in 1999, that's what's being done there. I used reasonable factors for the year of the start of my sample--e.g., the year the SEC went to 12 teams, the year FSU joined the ACC, the year the Big East started playing round-robin--there's no parsing of numbers going on here, by me at least.

If CFR and I disagree on something, it's the effect that the SEC's perception has on the game. Obviously, given CFB's reliance upon polls, if the punditry had an impact it would be much greater than any other sport (except for boxing, I suppose)--but I don't think it has nearly the effect that he thinks it does, and I think the recent examples bear that out.

At some point I'll do an analysis of polling, which will probably give us some answers (I suspect the Big 10 is the biggest beneficiary of any conference, myself). But it'll take a while before I can look at it with the seriousness it deserves.
October 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSolon
Since CFR or HP won't even take a look at what I came up with and at least give me their comments on it (unless they both never saw my email), here is my own analysis on the Pac-10 against OOC BCS foes from 2000-2005 during the regular season.

It would be great if a Pac-10 fan would do the same analysis on the SEC, as I don't have the same time now to do it that I did over the summer: http://umsis.miami.edu/~medmunds/Pac-10-OOC-BCS-commentary.htm

A similar analysis on this time period referring to specifically the bowl season, for each conference in question, would also be useful.
October 13, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermmortal03

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