Friday, May 10, 2013

SEC Dominance?.... Or Propaganda?

(Disclaimer: Due to confusion amongst readers, this isn't a comparison of the SEC to other conferences but rather to their own godlike reputation upheld by the media.) Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, had an interesting quote this week. Stoops basically said (paraphrasing of course) that the SEC is the beneficiary of media propaganda. I couldn't wait for a knowledgeable opinion to finally say what I've long held to be true. Before you think that I hold a bias against the SEC, I've always stated that I think the SEC is the best conference, but also the most overrated. I know what you are thinking, that how can a conference that just won its 7th straight BCS National Championship be overrated. Trust me, I will touch on this subject in detail. Before you read the rest, keep in mind that I am coming from the viewpoint that I still believe it is the best conference, but even the best at anything isn't above propaganda.

I won't waste any time and jump right into the main argument against possible propaganda, the 7 straight BCS titles. That is a very impressive streak, and one that I doubt any other conference will come close to ever. The most impressive thing about it is the fact that Florida, LSU, Alabama, and Auburn have all won the title in this span (Tennessee won the first ever BCS title and LSU also won in 2003). I think that it speaks volumes of the depth of the conference. With all that said, I think people forget what is the hardest thing about actually winning a BCS title, and it's access to the game. The SEC has been able to rack up titles for one, because they've actually been allowed to play in the game. This isn't NCAA basketball, the NFL and NBA playoffs, or even 1AA football where teams have to go through some sort of bracket system to prove they are the best. The biggest obstacle to winning a BCS title game is whether you are actually picked to go to the game.

In 2000, 1-loss Florida State was picked to go to the title game over 1-loss and #2 ranked Miami who beat them but also lost to 1-loss Washington. Miami and Washington couldn't win the championship because they didn't have a chance to even play in the game. #1 ranked USC was denied a spot in the game in 2003, as well as 2011 Big-10 Champion Oklahoma State, and Oregon and Boise State what seems like every year. There are numerous others as well. Outside of undefeated Auburn being denied a spot in 2005, SEC teams have generally been given great access to the title game. This includes 2-loss LSU in 2007, and 2011 Alabama who finished 2nd in its Division (not conference). For people saying that they still had to win the game, I agree but in order to win a game you have to be in it. Let's pretend for a minute that college basketball used the same system. Carolina or Duke would have had an opportunity to automatically appear in the title game about 7 times in the past 10 years (some years ranked #3 with a much stronger resume). How many of those could they have won probably 5 at least, but as it stands they have only combined for 3 titles in that amount of time because they didn't have guaranteed access to the championship game.

I think the biggest reason for the propaganda for the SEC is pre-season rankings. It artificially puts all the top SEC teams at the top without them playing a game. If they win against another top team, we anoint them as favorites for beating a top-10 ranked team (usually undeserving at that point), and if they lose the media writes that at least they lost to a top ranked team (also usually undeserving at that point). That leads to a system where SEC teams can win and climb back up the charts swiftly or lose and suffer a minimal drop at best. Whenever it's possible look at how far Bama or LSU drops after a loss, and climbs after a win compared to other good teams in different conferences. You'll notice a huge disparity. All this does is reinforce the propaganda we were given at the beginning of the season based on preseason rankings and recruiting rankings (another equally bias system, but that blog post is for another day).

Also, the media tells us that the SEC teams are better and more deserving of their rankings because they beat up on each other week in and week out. More propaganda as well, SEC teams only play 8 conference games, and 4 scrimmages (ok not really scrimmages), while Big 10 and Pac-10 teams play 9 conference games (some play Notre Dame too), and the ACC plays 8 conference games with 5 teams playing Notre Dame. Take a closer look at each team schedule to see whether they really beat up on one another every week. Bama played LSU, and Texas A&M who are both divisional foes and that was it. Georgia played South Carolina and Florida, also divisional foes, and that was it.  Both teams split the games. Florida who probably had the hardest schedule actually played LSU, A&M, South Carolina, and Georgia and went 3-1 (along with beating FSU). A&M played LSU, Bama, and Florida and went 1-2 in those games, and South Carolina played LSU, Florida, and Georgia and went 1-2 as well. LSU played South Carolina, Bama, A&M, and Florida, and went 2-2. Outside of Florida any SEC team that played 2 or more games versus other top teams didn't have a winning record. In reality, those teams beat up on Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Auburn, Arkansas, and Ole Miss, and pretenders Miss State and Vanderbilt (no top conference wins between them). But because of media propaganda and bias we rarely ever get the true story.

With all that said, I still believe Alabama had the best team in the nation but that does not mean that the SEC as a whole hasn't benefited from bias that college football has used to increase its own revenue. So SEC teams make sure to thank the media and your great respective fan bases (die hard fans willing to pay money, travel well, big boosters, etc.) for your reign over College Football.