Friday, January 11, 2008

SEC vs. All Comers

The season ends with the same tired debate, "my team can beat your team, because (insert team name) beat (insert team name) and you lost to them." Even better, "my team comes from this conference, which is better than your conference, so my team is superior to yours." What a crock of $h!t it's all turned out to be! Then you have rankings come into play, but only when a debater finds use for them. If you've ever paid attention to ranking discussions, those go something like this, "my conference is greater, because it has more ranked teams, meaning we play more ranked opponents." Good argument? Maybe. But it's a horrible argument when you then state that someone outside your conference is overrated, and not deserving of a ranking. If the voters get it right, when ranking the teams in your conference, how are those same voters suddenly wrong about everyone else? You either agree or disagree with the total rankings, meaning if you determine a team outside your conference is ranked too high, there's a possibility that teams inside your conference are wrongfully ranked as well. I found out as a child that just because I was the toughest kid on my street didn't mean I was the toughest kid in the neighborhood. Sometimes you have to think outside the box, which is exactly what I decided to do in this conference war.

The SEC is considered the superior conference in college football. The media spreads it, we embrace it, and I even repeat it. Its history is long and accompanied with greatness. From legendary coaches to legendary players, there is no doubt that very few, if any conference, can match the historical achievements and power of the SEC. But Modernly, is the SEC as dominant as its made out to be? If we began to disect the games and opponents of today's SEC, you would actually get a different look. First, take a look at the overall record of the SEC vs. the other 5 BCS conferences:

SEC vs. ACC: 905-747-83

SEC vs. Big 12: 314-305-24

SEC vs. Big East: 112-71-11

SEC vs. Big 10: 89-95-7

SEC vs. Pac 10: 65-41-7

As shown, the SEC holds a lead over 4 or the 5 BCS conferences in all time series play, but actually trails the Big 10. Overall, the SEC is also .500 against Notre Dame, posting an all time series record of 9-9-2.

But what happens when we come up to speed and stop living in the past? How have the other conferences faired against the SEC in the 10 year era of the BCS? Is there any truth to what the media has been telling us? Let's see:

The BCS Era

SEC vs. ACC: 42-37

The SEC holds a 5 game lead over the ACC in the past 10 years, but it should be noted that lowly Duke went 0-7 in that stretch. The numbers are tallied according to current conference alignment, so Miami's total of 5-2 is included in the ACC's total.

SEC vs. Big 10: 19-15

With the SEC's recent blowouts of Ohio State in the National championship game, you would think the gap would be wider, especially with how the Big 10 is criticized for being slow and outdated. The Buckeyes went 0-4 during this period, and the Hoosiers posted a mark of 2-6. Oddly enough, Lloyd Carr was criticized for his failures to win the Big 10 and Beat Ohio State, but when you include his final coaching performance, his Michigan Wolverines are 6-1 against SEC opponents.

SEC vs. Big 12: 18-16

Both Texas and OU are 3-2 against the SEC, and neither represents the heavy hitter. In the past 10 years, Missouri is 4-1 against the Southeastern Conference.

SEC vs. Big East: 13-15

The Big East holds a 2 game lead on the SEC, partly because of Louisville's addition to the conference, and the Cardinals posting a 7-3 mark, with wins mostly over Kentucky. West Virginia has never lost to an SEC team, and has a record of 4-0 for the period. South Florida's first year of football was just one year before the BCS. In their early years, they collided with Alabama and Auburn, and came out 0-4, before finally notching the win against Auburn this past season.

SEC vs. Pac 10: 6-9

Because of Southern Cal, this seems to be the most preferred conference for the SEC conference to attack. "It's easy, and plays no D." Isn't that the painted picture of the Pac 10 conference? In the past 10 years Southern Cal, Oregon, and UCLA have jumped in and out of SEC play, and each time they've finished with an unblemished record. USC is 4-0, with Oregon and UCLA winning 2 games each. Arizona has the worst showing, going 0-2.

SEC vs. Notre Dame: 3-3

Even with the recent struggles of the Irish, nothing has changed as far as their matching up with the SEC. Notre Dame has continued to play the conference even. They are 1-1 against LSU, and 2-2 against Tennessee.

The all time mark for the SEC vs BCS conferences stands at 1,485-1,259. Does that reflect superiority? Maybe. Maybe not. But when you look at the game today, and the results of the past 10 years, 98-92, what I see is parity.

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