First of all, let me say I realize the SEC is the best college football conference. If I ever do forget, Paul Finebaum or one of the other myriad of southeastern football pundits will surely remind me within a few minutes on television or twitter.
I give them credit for winning seven straight national titles. I give them even more credit for making us believe they have to be in the game or somehow it really doesn’t count.
Yes, they are the best. When you win with a stacked deck, it’s still a win, but I’m not going to give you the credit you might actually deserve. And make no mistake about it, the SEC is playing with a stacked deck.
Every team in their league (except Florida and Georgia who have an annual game at a neutral cite) plays at least seven home games.
When they do travel, they aren’t going very far from home, either. Tennessee traveled to Oregon this season, and got annihilated, by the way. Arkansas traveled to Rutgers, and lost, too.
Mississippi went on the road (well, only sort of to Houston) to face Oklahoma State and lost. Missouri visited that traditional Big 10 football powerhouse, Indiana. Vanderbilt played at Massachusetts, one of the worst teams in Division I. At least they won those.
Coach Steve Spurrier and South Carolina showed more courage than anyone in the conference by going to a rising southern program, Central Florida, and winning. Mississippi got a win at Texas, which is solid, but don’t fret for those poor Rebels. They followed with a six game home stand. That’s a decent stretch for a major league baseball team.
I couldn’t find any other team that traveled more than one state away for an actual road game. The situation has gotten worse, but this is not a one-year anomaly.
I wanted to see the last time the Gators played a non-conference game outside the state of Florida. I went back to 2002 and got tired of looking. So at least since 2001. By the way, the Gators played host to FCS school Georgia Southern and lost. Georgia Southern finished fourth in the Southern Conference. Nice work, Gators.
Not only does the SEC pick it spots geographically, they do a great job of choosing weak out-of-conference opponents. Sure, there is the occasional game against TCU or Virginia Tech. Overall, though, they play one of the weakest non-conference slate in the BCS.
If you are interested in the math, I prove it in the next few paragraphs. If not, skip to the end.
Using SHARPSsports power ratings for FBS teams and Jeff Sagarin’s ratings for FCS teams, I went through the schedules of every BCS team (except the American Athletic Conference, who never existed until this year and might not be around next year).
The SEC plays an out-of-conference (OOC) schedule with an average power rating of 64.2 and a median of 63.1. College football fans’ favorite conference whipping boys, the Big 10, has an average OOC power rating of 64.1 and median of 64.2. The Big 12 has an average OOC power rating of 64.2 and a median of 64.5. The ACC has an average OOC power rating of 64.1 and a median of 62.3.
The PAC 12, who is recognized as the SEC’s primary challenger for college football supremacy has an average OOC power rating of 68.4 and a median of 67.5. Over 4 points per opponent higher than does the vaunted SEC.
They aren’t afraid to travel, either, no matter how big and powerful the program. Oregon went all the way to the east coast to play Virginia. Stanford went to West Point in upstate New York to play Army. Washington State went to Auburn (lost, but covered).
California has a home-and-home series with Ohio State, Washington with Illinois, Arizona State with Wisconsin, Nebraska with UCLA. Stanford and USC have home-and-homes with Notre Dame. Utah has home-and-home with two instate teams, Utah State and BYU. Both of which are bowl teams. If strength of schedule is your criteria, the PAC 12 has it all over the SEC. Not even close.
The SEC is trying to become college football’s aristocracy. It is supremely entitled and will throw only the occasional scrap, but only what they have to, to the rest of the peons who serve at their pleasure.
Don’t just go by bowl results, either. Remember all the major bowl games are in the south, too. I want to see some of their major programs visit Columbus, Lincoln or Eugene in November. Then the SEC could show me they’re the best conference and not just tell me about it.
Chris Andrews has over 30 years of experience as a bookmaker in Nevada. Check out his new website at www.againstthenumber.com and www.sharpssports.com. You can follow him on Twitter@AndrewsSports. Contact Chris at [email protected].