NCAAF  > General NCAAF  > Reluctant admission: SEC is best
January 11, 2013, 03:54 PM
If Ohio St. were not under sanctions, we would have had a Notre Dame-tOSU title game this year. Alabama and Georgia, two obviously superior teams, would have been left out in the cold.

So why is the SEC superior? We sometimes hear it is because these schools illegally pile on the scholarships. But Stewart Mandel over at SI (a writer I trust) says that this theory holds no water; that SEC schools do not have a de facto minor league system.

So what is it? Deep football culture? The large African-American population in the south? Schools and alumni with the resources to fund football programs?
January 11, 2013  04:18 PM ET
QUOTE:

Schools and alumni with the resources to fund football programs?

This, plus highly talented and highly paid HCs and assts that (usually) do a good job of coaching up the talent on hand.

Note that I am NOT saying this does not exist in other areas of the country, before folks pile on me. But I think these things are present in the SEC and strongly contribute to the current run of success by at least one conference member for the recent past several years.

January 11, 2013  04:42 PM ET

Competition is more solid up and down the board. Sure, you have the usual "bottom-dwellers" like UK, Vandy, MSST, Ole Piss....but even they can rise up and smack one of the "big boys" or at least give them a game. This year wasn't normal, MSST usually gives LUS and Aubie fits and makes the Bama game closer than it was this year...so the coaches can't do a Mack Brown and just coast for a while....even Stoops doesn't coach all that well when the competition means you only have 1-3 really tough games a year.

For example...historically...MSST would have had to play Auburn, Arky, UTk as well as LUS and Bama...and then they added TAMU....OU and TU have each other and then who? Normally KUS and Baylor aren't that good...Okie Lite just now got it going (well...for a year)...Historically USC has ... who? Oregon and Stanford aren't that big a powerhouse historically.

IMO, that is the difference.

January 11, 2013  05:32 PM ET

The South (pronounced in two or more syllables) did not have pro football until the mid-60s. Also, it lacked the higher paying manufacturing jobs which provided blue collar fans the means to support pro team fandom.

What the South did have was high-school ball (especially important in small towns) and college ball. College teams gained fans who never matriculated. CFB became the de facto big time sport, with pageantry and import to the well-being of the citizenry at large. Revenues flowed in. Programs and stadiums grew. More revenues flowed in. Coaches had radio shows, TV shows, advertising and endorsement deals. The CFB culture in the South rivaled that of the pro game centered in the North and Midwest.

Decades of momentum could not and will not be undone by the relatively recent smattering of pro franchises in the states of the old confederacy. CFB allegiances and merchandizing still exceed that of the pro teams.

The advent of cable TV with its plethora of channels consumed CFB content. More money flowed to the college programs. They became entities unto themselves, breaking away from the NCAA. More money flowed. And the CFB programs spent the money on coaches, facilities, and recruiting. Success became ever more paramount, and the growth cycle of revenues and expenditures seemed to have no ceiling.

Sure, to a great extent, this pattern of growth in CFB has a national signature. No one will say that the Corn Huskers mean less to Nebraska than the Dawgs do to Georgia or the Tide does to (most of) Alabama. But the South has enjoyed its own population growth, and its university stadiums hold more people than entire state populations in the breadbasket of the US.

Why has the SEC ruled CFB of late? Blame it on slick Slive and his minions, but accept the history and heritage of the geographic area, too. Need a keystone event? Newly hired coach of the Crimson Tide, Nick Saban was featured on the cover of Forbes Not photogenic Pete Carroll. Not BTN champion, Jim Delany. Not Mack Davis or DeLoss Dodds, leaders of the richest CFB program in the US. Lucifer's Vessel, Nick Saban got the Forbes treatment. If the "why" of that still escapes you, just have a drink. It's Friday night, and that's good advice, whatever occupies your mind.

January 11, 2013  06:07 PM ET

One thing I'll say and I said this about the Michigan game and I said it about the Notre Dame game.

Before the Michigan game, all the Michigan fans were saying, "Hey, we played and won a BCS bowl. We can compete for the championship." After the game against Alabama, Brady Hoke even said, "We still have some work to do."

Then, before the Alabama game, the Notre Dame people were all saying, "We can compete. We went 12-0. Our defensive front is as big as any in the SEC."

But, it is not all about size. At one point, when we were mowing people down early in the season, someone got a little creative and compared the weight of our offensive line with the NY Giants offensive line. It was the exact same average weight per position. Does anyone truly believe that we could place a college offensive line on to the NY Giants and they would have still won the Super Bowl? I know I did not. It's not all about size.

We play in the SEC. Yes, from top to bottom there is still a disparity of talent and yes, we have teams that are 6-6. But, you know what? Those fans from Mississippi State and Ole Miss and Tennessee or whoever, their fans really think they can play for an NC (Tennessee did win ione once a long time ago) at some point and they demand their teams to work for that. And the coaches of those teams and the players of those teams work their **** off to beat the other teams in the SEC. It doesn't necessarily mean they win any more games than a middle of the road Big 10 team (no offense to South Carolina who was in the upper ranks this year), but they make you earn your wins every week.

The Notre Dame defense was tired in the 2nd quarter. Our players saw it. The fans saw it.

Playing how the SEC does, they are a lot more prepared for tough gut it out games in the trenches. Especially after they get 3-4 weeks to rest and get healthy. Now, you're going to say what about Florida? What about LSU?

Well, Florida beat FSU fairly solidly and South Carolina beat Clemson solidly. Whether we want to admit it or not, teams sometimes do get up for games and play flat in others. Which is why Pitt and USC can play Notre Dame close and then look like crap in their bowl games. Which is why Oregon can lose to Stanford and yet most people still believe Oregon is a better team.

Everyone looked at Notre Dame and said, "Why are they missing tackles? They didn't all year long." Well, I'll tell you, Ole Miss and Mississippi State and other teams in the SEC that you guys look at and think they aren't any good? If they get guys in the backfield during a game, their guys make those tackles. I remember getting angry and telling friends, even during games against a 6-6 SEC team, "Trent Richardson cannot get any good runs, if we don't keep those guys out of the backfield!"

Comment #5 has been removed
January 11, 2013  06:53 PM ET

Damn, Joe. When you've a mind to do it, you sure can write what's on your mind.

January 11, 2013  06:55 PM ET
QUOTE(#5):

To: The Almighty Southeastern Conference (SSSSSSSSEEEEEEEECCCCCCCC)Subject: 2013 Football Season (And Beyond)WE'RE NOT WORTHY! WE'RE NOT WORTHY! WE'RE NOT WORTHY! We, the undersigned, kowtow to your Conference's everlasting dominance, now, henceforth, and forever more. Ya'll just sort out your future National Championships within the SEC, and the rest of us will fight for the crumbs.Signed: America East Conference Atlantic 10 Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference, Atlantic Sun Conference, Big 12, East, Sky, South, B1G, West Conferences, Colonial Athletic Association, Conference USA, Great West Conference, Horizon League, Independents, Ivy League, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern, Missouri Valley, Mountain West, Northeast, Ohio Valley, PAC-12 Conferences, Patriot League, Southern, Southland, Southwestern Athletic, Sun Belt Conferences, The Summit League, West Coast, and Western Athletic Conferences.P.S.: We're taking our ball and going home. It's a futile effort. A fool's errand. Spitting in the wind. Beating a dead horse, etc., etc., ad nauseam.

Just plain "No." It is imperative that teams from other conferences continue to gain victory over SEC teams. Imperative? It is inevitable.

January 11, 2013  09:34 PM ET

I'm not so sure that a one loss Alabama team would have been left outside of the BCS National Championship Game.

January 12, 2013  12:56 AM ET

Most analyst agree that the greatest concentration of HS football talent is in the south east... Then look at the recruiting rankings and the SEC schools typically occupy half the top 10... then look at the quality of the head coaches in the SEC... Finally, passion for the game.

Have you ever seen a chant break out at the Rose Bowl? BIG 10... BIG 10... BIG 10

January 12, 2013  04:53 PM ET
QUOTE(#9):

Most analyst agree that the greatest concentration of HS football talent is in the south east... Then look at the recruiting rankings and the SEC schools typically occupy half the top 10... then look at the quality of the head coaches in the SEC... Finally, passion for the game.Have you ever seen a chant break out at the Rose Bowl? BIG 10... BIG 10... BIG 10

+1. Would include inertia and the November 1-AA/SB fest (as part of the light conf schedule of one less conf game than other conferences) as keys to getting to the big game.

It also doesn't hurt the SEC at all that the big MNC games have not featured the actual best opponents in many seasons. This year Oregon would have been the closest Vegas line bet to Bama, last year was just stupid, the year prior a Dalton-led designed to stop the spread d-TCU would have been the best matchup against Auburn, Texas lost its QB early, and USC was a far better team than the OU team that UF rolled. The SEC is certainly the best conference, but they are not ahead by miles and miles.

January 12, 2013  06:33 PM ET
QUOTE(#10):

November 1-AA/SB fest (as part of the light conf schedule of one less conf game than other conferences) as keys to getting to the big game

At first glance, I would see where you would get that impression...but looking at some SOS polls....first in Sagarin's Poll....in the top 10 strongest SOS have 6 SEC teams....8 in the top 25.

www.teamrankings.com has 6 in the top 10 as well (5 in the top 5)...

Congrove does have a lesser number...only has 1 in the top 10 and 8 in the top 25....

And interestingly, Big 12 and 12PAC went to the 9 game InConference this year...Not sure when B1G went to it, so I don't really see that as being so advantageous...and in spite of the LSOP's, the top SEC teams still have a strong SOS...

January 13, 2013  12:34 PM ET
QUOTE:

... Stewart Mandel over at SI (a writer I trust) says ...

Mandel is a SEC buttlick. He writes 3 articles a week regarding SEC something-or-the-other. He is a journalist which means he's an expert on absolutely nothing ... and his analysis is laden with junk science. He tells the SEC fanbase what they want to hear so SI can run lots of ads past their eyes. Nothing more.

The 7-straight year run of "SEC dominance" is based on the accomplishments of 4 schools: Alabama (3), Florida (2), LSU (1) and the Auburn flier. The rest of the SEC has been average at best. SCar and Arkansas were never "elite" teams as Mandel and his buddies tried to spin them. Neither was Georgia.

I'm very impressed with Alabama's dominance during the 7-straight year run. I was very impressed with Florida's runs as well, and LSU put some strong teams on the field during that time. However I'm not ready to proclaim the whole conference as dominant because of the accomplishments of a couple of teams.

January 13, 2013  01:58 PM ET
QUOTE(#12):

Mandel is a SEC buttlick. He writes 3 articles a week regarding SEC something-or-the-other. He is a journalist which means he's an expert on absolutely nothing ... and his analysis is laden with junk science. He tells the SEC fanbase what they want to hear so SI can run lots of ads past their eyes. Nothing more.The 7-straight year run of "SEC dominance" is based on the accomplishments of 4 schools: Alabama (3), Florida (2), LSU (1) and the Auburn flier. The rest of the SEC has been average at best. SCar and Arkansas were never "elite" teams as Mandel and his buddies tried to spin them. Neither was Georgia. I'm very impressed with Alabama's dominance during the 7-straight year run. I was very impressed with Florida's runs as well, and LSU put some strong teams on the field during that time. However I'm not ready to proclaim the whole conference as dominant because of the accomplishments of a couple of teams.

Interesting...so what is your criteria to determine that a CFB program is elite? Over the past 10 years UGAly and Florida's won-loss record is almost identical...GA is 96-34 while UF is 98-32...and Bama (an elite school per your post) has a record of 86-43...to round it out, LUS is 102-27 while TU is 106-23 and OU is 109-26....

January 13, 2013  02:27 PM ET

If you measure 'elite' by BCS titles, you get one result. If you measure by record over the last 10 years, you get another.

I wouldn't say Mandel is a 'SEC buttlick', more like paparazzi in that he chases whatever the flavor of the day is. Like most scribes, he is willing to use any example to prove his point, even if he knows it's crap. So IMO Mandel is no more trustworthy than any other BS artist.

January 13, 2013  03:13 PM ET
QUOTE(#13):

Interesting...so what is your criteria to determine that a CFB program is elite? Over the past 10 years UGAly and Florida's won-loss record is almost identical...GA is 96-34 while UF is 98-32...and Bama (an elite school per your post) has a record of 86-43...to round it out, LUS is 102-27 while TU is 106-23 and OU is 109-26....

I've posted before ... "elite" is the most over-used word in college sports. It is a good example of something that can be argued but never proved, and media types use this phrase to elicit a emotional response.

Considering that college athletics is comprised of 18-21 year-old kids, I would use the phrase very sparingly.

January 13, 2013  03:38 PM ET
QUOTE(#15):

I've posted before ... "elite" is the most over-used word in college sports. It is a good example of something that can be argued but never proved, and media types use this phrase to elicit a emotional response.Considering that college athletics is comprised of 18-21 year-old kids, I would use the phrase very sparingly.

No problem...you just posted that you considered SCAR, Arky and UGAly NOT to be "elite" while implying, IMO, that Florida was...As T pointed out, there are many different criteria and all would lead to different answers...

January 13, 2013  04:01 PM ET
QUOTE(#16):

No problem...you just posted that you considered SCAR, Arky and UGAly NOT to be "elite" while implying, IMO, that Florida was...As T pointed out, there are many different criteria and all would lead to different answers...

The Tebow Hernandez Pouncy Harvin Spikes et al Florida Gators were quite an assembly of talent. They were well coached and disciplined too. they won multiple championships. One could say the same about Saban's 'Tide teams of late. Really good athletes who played unselfishly as teams and won championships. When others in the SEC came along and challenged them (SCar, Arky, aTm) Mandel and his buddies at SI were quick to anoint them as "elite" teams too. It didn't stand the test of time though.

January 14, 2013  06:57 AM ET

"Come back to me, and say my land is best."

January 14, 2013  09:31 AM ET

Seven straight sends a statement alone. Auburn, LSU, Bama and Florida winning in those years. Bama will be stronger next year with several others also getting great recruits. You can give many reasons but in the end, the SEC has won 7 straight and it will not be easy again to break that streak next year. There are many great teams like Stanford, Oregon and even K-State had a great year. But in the end the final look is who wins the championship. Yes, we think Ohio State will dominate next year. Let's wait on that one, we thought that a few times before when they meet the SEC and were thumped.

 
January 14, 2013  12:56 PM ET

I'm from Cali, a warm state year round, and this may be an oddball theory but I believe a large part of it has to do with the climate in the south, especilly the 2 bookends of Florida and Texas.

My explanation is that when I was a kid (you know, about the time God invented dirt) weekends or any time out of school was spent playing sports; organized, pick up games, whatever. We even invented rules for 3 man football, not 3 on 3 but just 3 man. One person would be QB for both teams, 3 completions for a 1st, objects such as cars were part of the playing field. 'Course it was more fun when you got more peeps, but you could always get at least 3.

And our play was seasonal, but we didn't balk at playing FB any time of the year, and a game of over-the-line was good for the base ballers among us too.

The point is that practice makes perfect and in the cold weather states kids are forced indoors when the weather turns, so you might tend to see more basketballers but their football play-time is limited. That's why Florida, Texas, and Cali are the recruiting hotbeds; they have the weather AND they have population centers.

The other thing is just about every SEC school is good recruiting ground, whereas with other conferences it is just 1 or 2 states (B12 has only Texas, PAC has only Cali). The conferences with only 1 or 2 have the entire conference recruiting in that 1 state. The SEC can recruit in ALL their states with not much of a dropoff.

That's my theory, but I realize things are more complicated with many factors at play.

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