I’ve been told I have a hatred for the Southeastern Conference.
The truth is, I respect what that conference has done over the past decade. I don’t hate any college football conference, but when I see a group of teams getting more love than they deserve, I look deeper into the factors contributing to that undying love. I peel back the layers and try to decide whether it’s legitimate or not.
What I’ve seen from the SEC in 2012 hasn’t really floored me. If it’s flooring you, you’re probably a fan of one of the 14 SEC teams.
As you’d see in my rankings, I still have four SEC teams in my top-25, but it’s nothing crazy like the six-team stretch we see in the BCS’s top 10. So without further ado, here are some things that need to be said to fans of SEC Football, because I’ve waited long enough for someone in the media to say it, and it doesn’t appear anyone is eager to answer the call.
And before you run to comment at the bottom of the story, yes, I am aware Florida State struggled to beat the worst Virginia Tech team in more than 10 years last Thursday night.
1. Every week is not a test in the SEC. Excuse me, but have you seen Auburn, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri play this season? If you put Auburn in the ACC, they would win one game if they were lucky enough to get Maryland on their schedule. Otherwise, I can’t say with any confidence they’d beat anybody else in the ACC. They’re putrid. Kentucky is even worse. Tennessee isn’t much better. In other words, there are plenty of bye weeks built into an SEC team’s schedule. And don’t forget the out-of-conference games that are against cupcakes 90 percent of the time. Or more.
2. No, Alabama will not play for a national title if two or more undefeated teams remain. Georgia won’t, either. Those two teams have hardly been tested at all, and when they were, they didn’t look good. The Crimson Tide’s two tough challenges came in the last two weeks, and they nearly found a way to go 0-2 in that stretch. Before that, we all thought they couldn’t be touched. It turns out we felt that way because their schedule was softer than Charmin. Yes, they destroyed Michigan in Week 1, but the Wolverines turned out to be a farce by their standards. After that win, Alabama embarked on a stretch of their schedule that featured teams with a combined record of 34-36. The only two teams with winning records they faced between the Michigan and LSU wins were Western Kentucky (6-4) and Mississippi State (7-3). If you’ve followed MSU Football at all, you know how overrated they are. And if you don’t, take a look at their schedule.
3. Which brings me to Georgia. If they knock off Alabama in the SEC Title game (I give them a 50-50 shot to do so, depending on which Aaron Murray shows up for the game), they will suddenly become the SEC’s bell cow, having beaten two ranked teams all season. In case you’re keeping score at home, they have as many wins over ranked opponents this season as Florida State. My SEC friends would be quick to bash FSU’s schedule as weak, but I’m having trouble finding the difficulty in UGA’s regular-season slate. We’ll see how they do against Alabama.
4. The Big 12 is the best conference in college football. When you have West Virginia in seventh place out of 10 teams in your conference, you’re king (and WVU has struggled mightily to get acquainted to the Big 12 — their last month has been the meat of their schedule, and they’re finding out quickly that the Big 12 is a very strong football conference). Mississippi State is seventh in the SEC, and fourth from the bottom (if we’re truly comparing the two conferences) is Arkansas. There just isn’t depth in any conference like you see in the Big 12.
5. The ranking shenanigans is why you see so many teams in the top-10 from the SEC. When a team from another conference loses a game, they drop six or seven spots. For example, when Clemson lost a very tough road game at Florida State, they fell from No. 10 to No. 17. But when an SEC team loses a close game, they fall two spots in the polls. Then the team who beat them moves a spot ahead of them. Then it happens again — team loses, falls two spots and gets replaced by another SEC newcomer. Before long, you have a massive logjam at the top and something happens like Florida being ranked No. 6 in the BCS after near-losses to Missouri and Louisiana-Lafayette. If the pollsters did what they do with every other conference and dropped the losing team an appropriate number of spots in the rankings, we’d have more accuracy. Instead, we have six teams in a row in the top-10 of the BCS and SEC fans beating their chests about something they know isn’t correct. South Carolina at No. 9? Come on.