The SEC’s Dirty Little Secret

WRITTEN BY BRISTOL

The SEC has a dirty little secret.....

That the SEC is the best conference in college football is not something I will deny. The conference has produced the last five national champions and has, at this point, clearly the two best teams in the nation this season in LSU and Alabama. Both teams have terror-mongering defenses who have choked the life out of just about every offense they have played. SEC fans and SEC-loving media (I’m looking at you, ESPN and CBS) enjoy nothing more than reminding you of how wonderful the conference is and extolling the virtues of the conference members. LSU and Alabama look every bit as good as recent national championship winning SEC teams and look every bit the part of the best teams in the land. However, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll discover the SEC’s dirty little secret, and in this case we’re not talking about buying players, offering excessive scholarships, or even the rampant lawlessness of the conference. The dirty little secret is that most of the conference flat out sucks.  SEC fans, coaches, apologists, and sycophants love to claim that the SEC is tougher than any other conference because there are no bad teams and no off weekends. That is not the way to advance the argument that southern stereotypes about a lack of intelligence are off base. How bad does the SEC suck after LSU and Alabama? Let me count the ways…

1)      Ole Miss

So, every team in the SEC is good, huh? Let’s take a look at Ole Miss. Ole Miss is 2-6 on the year and 0-5 in the SEC. Their conference losses are to Vanderbilt by 23 (I feel like I could stop here – if you lose to Vandy by 23, you suck), Georgia by 14, Alabama by 45, Arkansas by 5, and Auburn by 18. Their non-conference loss was by 1 point to 6-3 BYU team. An SEC fan would say – see, how tough their schedule is? Look at the teams they lost to! A realist says,”Let’s look at the whole picture.” They beat Southern Illinois, an FCS team tied for last place in the Missouri Valley Conference, by 18 and Fresno State, a team that is 3-5 and in 4th place in the WAC by 10. Woo hoo! In the most rosy view of Ole Miss, you can say that they played Arkansas really tough and might be the 3rd or 4th best team in the WAC. Since Boise State used to rule the WAC with an iron fist and was never any good according to every SEC fan ever, that means Ole Miss sucks. That’s OK, I’m sure we’ll find 11 teams that are awesome.

2)      Tennessee

Tennessee is 3-5 overall and 0-5 in the SEC, so no doubt a great team stuck in this other-worldly conference. Their losses are to Florida by 10, Georgia by 8, LSU by 31, Alabama by 31, and South Carolina by 11. They were competitive in the 3 losses to not-Alabama and not-LSU, so that seems like a sign of something, but since they got completely demolished by Alabama and LSU that also seems like sign of something. They rolled through non-conference play, beating Buffalo by 31, Cincinnati by 22, and Montana by 26. Buffalo is 2-7 and is 6th in their division of the MAC, Cincinnati is 6-1 and leading the Big East, and Montana is 7-2 and ranked 8th in FCS. A rosy view of Tennessee says that even though they are way behind Alabama and LSU, they aren’t far from Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, two of whom are ranked. And they easily handled the team leading the Big East. Of course, last year everyone said it was a travesty that the Big East champion made it to a BCS bowl instead of Arkansas because everyone knows the Big East champion sucks. So, again, by using the same argument as SEC fans, Tennessee’s win over Cincinnati means nothing because the Big East is terrible. So is Tennessee. Still have 10 awesome teams, I bet.

3)      Kentucky

Kentucky is 3-5 overall and 0-4 in the SEC – just another great team who can’t win in such a stacked conference. Their conference losses are to Florida by 38, LSU by 28, South Carolina by 51, and Mississippi State by 12. And they lost to Louisville, a 4-4 team currently tied for 2nd place in the Big East. Hmm…what about the wins? An 11-point win over Western Kentucky, a 4-4 team in 3rd place in the Sun Belt, a 14-point win over Central Michigan, a 3-6 team that is dead last in their division in the MAC, and a 24-point win over Jacksonville State, a 5-3 FCS team. Yuck. There is no rosy view here – if you try to argue that Kentucky doesn’t suck, Tommy’s going to come back there and hit you in the head with a tack hammer. They are terrible. Nine awesome teams?

4)      Mississippi State

Hey, we finally got to the portion of the SEC with a conference win. Literally, one – they are 4-4 overall and 1-4 in the SEC. Their losses are to Auburn by 7, LSU by 13, Georgia by 14, and South Carolina by 2, admittedly all close losses. They beat Kentucky by 12 which, as noted, is not terribly impressive. Non-conference wins are over Memphis, a 2-7 team tied for 5th (and last) in their division in Conference USA, by 45, by 6 in OT over Louisiana Tech, a 4-4 team tied for 2nd in the WAC, and an 18-point win over UAB, a 1-7 team tied with Memphis. Since the SEC is the greatest conference ever, I assuming we are not giving credit for wins over terrible C-USA teams and we’ve already discussed the WAC. I don’t think a win over pathetic Kentucky earns you any credibility. Mississippi State, you suck. Next…

5)      Vanderbilt

I think it’s pretty telling that we got to 4 other teams before we got to Vanderbilt. Good old Vandy is 4-4 overall and 1-4 in the SEC. Their losses are to South Carolina by 18, Alabama by 34, Georgia by 5, and Arkansas by 3. So, their slate includes two very competitive losses against ranked teams – an SEC fan will tell you that is because all of the teams are so good. When it happens in any other conference, it’s because all of the teams are so bad. You can’t have it both ways. Vandy beat Ole Miss by 23 in conference, which is not impressive at all. Their non-conference wins are over Elon, a 4-5 team tied for 6th in their FCS conference, by 31, over Connecticut, a 3-5 team tied for 6th in the Big East, by 3, and a 23-point win over Army, a 3-5 independent team. Again, the most impressive win is over a fellow conference member who is winless in the SEC.

6)      Florida

Florida is 4-4 overall and 2-4 in the conference and the perfect example of the SEC mindset. I guarantee that SEC fans, when engaged in a debate about conference strength, will argue that Florida is only 4-4 because they play so many great teams in the SEC. However, why should SEC teams get credit for losing? Their losses are to Alabama by 28, LSU by 30, Auburn by 11, and Georgia by 4. You may sense a pattern here – competitive against not-Alabama and not-LSU, blown out by Alabama and LSU. Hey they did beat Kentucky by 38 and Tennessee by 10 – you know, 2 of the teams winless in the conference. And they beat Florida Atlantic, an 0-7 team dead last in the Sun Belt and one of only two winless teams in FBS, by 38 and UAB (already mentioned as last in C-USA) by 39. Those are the wins? Yep, you suck, too.

Before we move on to the next set of teams, let’s recap the six listed just to make sure we understand why these teams are not awesome, just because they play in the SEC. The six teams are a combined 4-26 in the conference, with the only 4 wins coming against other members of the group. While they are 16-3 in non-conference play, 4 of the 16 wins are against FCS squads and the other 12 are against FBS teams with a combined record of 32-65, a .330 winning percentage. Exactly one of those wins, Tennessee over Cincinnati, came against an FCS team with a winning record. So, a winning percentage of .133 in conference, zero wins against the top half of the conference, and one non-conference win against a team with a winning record? Sure, some of these teams will add to their victory totals in the coming weeks as they play each other and a few more non-conference patsies. Several will qualify for bowl games and the number of bowl teams will be touted as another barometer of the strength of the SEC. However, for any sensible person, there really is no debate – the bottom half of the SEC is terrible. Don’t believe the fluff being fed to you by ESPN, CBS, and excited southerners about how the conference is so great. Certainly, LSU and Alabama are, but not everyone else. What? I haven’t mentioned several other teams – thanks for reminding me…

7)      Auburn

Auburn is 4-2 in the SEC and 6-3 overall and ranked 22nd, so they seem like a strong team. Right? Their conference losses are to Arkansas by 24 and LSU by 35, plus a non-conference 14-point loss to 8-1 Clemson. Their losses are strong albeit not competitive, but again, what about the wins? They beat Mississippi State by 7, South Carolina by 3, Florida by 11, and Ole Miss by 18 in conference play. At least we finally got a win against someone else in the top half (South Carolina), but the other 3 are against the dregs in less than impressive fashion. And their non-conference wins? A 4-point squeaker over 2-5 Utah State, currently in 7th place in the WAC, and a 16-point win over previously mentioned (and 0-7) Florida Atlantic. So we can give them credit for the win over South Carolina, but there is nothing else impressive in their resume. SEC fans, your thoughts on Auburn – “An awesome team who has played tough against a great conference schedule, losing only to Top 10 teams Arkansas and LSU and a good Clemson team.” Realists, your thoughts – “They have 5 terrible wins, 1 mediocre win, and got blown out by the only teams with a true pulse they have played.”

8)      Georgia

Georgia is 5-1 in the SEC, 6-2 overall, and ranked #18 in this week’s BCS standings. Their 5 conference wins? Check out this murderer’s row – Ole Miss by 14, Mississippi State by 14, Tennessee by 8, Vanderbilt by 5, and Florida by 6. Wow. Just wow. And they still get to play Kentucky! Somehow, Georgia misses Alabama, LSU, and Arkansas – the three best teams in the conference. Don’t let Georgia’s 6 straight wins fool you, they have played less than no one. Their non-conference win was by 59 over Coastal Carolina, a 4-4 FCS team in 6th place in their conference. Their losses are to 7-0 and #5 Boise State by 14 and to South Carolina by 3. The favorite argument of SEC fans to dismiss Boise State and other non-BCS teams is the “They only have to get up for 1 game” argument, which implies that it is easy for teams to get up for one or two tough games per season when the rest of the schedule is easy. This argument is weakened, of course, by Georgia. They have played 6 terrible teams in a row (and play New Mexico State this week), so in the first nine weeks, they will have played two teams with a pulse – Boise State and South Carolina. So, SEC fans, why couldn’t Georgia get up for even one of those two games and win? That silence is the sound of Georgia sucking.

9)      South Carolina

South Carolina is 5-1 in the SEC, 7-1 overall, and currently ranked #9 in the BCS. They have to be really impressive, right? Right? Their loss was to Auburn by 3, which isn’t inexcusable, but isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Conference wins are over Georgia by 3, Vanderbilt by 18, Kentucky by 51, Mississippi State by 2, and Tennessee by 11. Somehow, the Gamecocks miss both Alabama and LSU, which is a convenient way to play just about all the bad teams and pad your record. They also beat East Carolina, a 4-4 team tied for 1st in their division in C-USA, by 19 and Navy, a 2-6 independent team, by 3. South Carolina’s “impressive” resume bring the total numbers of wins over even remotely decent teams to 3, and that’s counting wins over a suspect Georgia team and South Carolina themselves. And still only 1 non-conference win against a team with a winning record – from 9 of the 12 big, bad SEC teams!

10)   Arkansas

Arkansas is 7-1 overall, 3-1 in the SEC, and ranked 7th in this week’s BCS standings. Their lone loss on the year was by 24 to Alabama, which is not out of the ordinary. Their conference wins are by 24 over Auburn, by 5 over Ole Miss, and by 3 over Vanderbilt, the last two of which are quite uninspiring. The non-conference wins are by 44 over Missouri State, a 1-8 team tied for last in their FCS conference, by 49 over New Mexico, the only winless FCS team in addition to FAU, by 10 over Troy, a 2-5 team tied for 6th in the Sun Belt, and by 4 over Texas A&M, a 5-3 team in 4th place in the Big 12 (but a 2nd non-conference win over a winning team for the SEC!). Despite appearances, Arkansas’ resume is highly suspect as well – wins over Auburn and Texas A&M stand out only because of the non-descriptness of the rest of the victories.

Even I am not going to make a case that Alabama and LSU are not great teams, but a close inspection of the rest of the conference proves that the argument that every week in the SEC finds you playing another great team is pure fantasy. Depending on your definition of good, you could make a case that 6 teams in the SEC are “good”. But no definition of “great” involves more than just Alabama and LSU. We should all enjoy the game between those two coming up this weekend, but the next time you hear how great the entire conference is, let’s all remember the conference’s dirty little secret.

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~ by maxaverage on November 2, 2011.

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