FanPost

fan poll FSU & the SEC

 

I have watched college football for about a half century. That probably gives me more of  a long term perspective than most of you and what the SEC has done in the past dozen or so years is amazing and unprecedented. If I had not seen it with my own two eyes I would never have believed it.  

 I remember the 60's, with Michigan and Ohio State of the Big 10 in the "big" games over  a span of years with the winner going on to the national championship. If it wasn't them, then a team from Tuscaloosa  with the likes of Joe Namath or Kenny Stabler or a team from Los Angeles with OJ Simpson seemed to be on center stage. I remember Oklahoma and Nebraska in the seventies doing the same thing. I remember Johnny Rogers running roughshod of defensive players as if they were high school players. Again, you always could count on a squad from Los Angeles or Tuscaloosa to make a big splash.  

 In the 80's a couple of new kids on the block appeared...UM and FSU. Miami won the first of many national championships and FSU would follow in the next decade. UF would join in that group in the 90's and it seemed that the road to the national championship ran through the Sunshine state.  

As the new century approached, a team from the state of Tennessee won the inaugural BCS crown in 1998. At the time it didn't seem to be significant other than it hurt as I watched from the stands as FSU fell. Since that night there have been 12 more BCS national championships and of the 13, seven of those belong to the SEC. The last 5 years straight have been won by the SEC. And unlike earlier mythical national championships that usually involved two teams from one conference vying for the crown, the current 13 year domination of the SEC has involved 5 teams with 7 titles between them...UT, LSU,UF,Ala and Auburn.   And it appears as if that domination has an excellent chance of continuing for the 14th year with the winner of the Ala/LSU game all but penciled in for a title shot.

All the teams, coaches and their fans of the other conferences looking on from the outside remind themselves that this is cyclical. History has shown, to some extent, that is true. But what the SEC has done over a span of the last 14 years has no historical precedent. Not only is it the longest such span, but the power is not concentrated in just one or two teams as in the past. Five different teams winning the crystal trophy is a testament to that.   Will it continue? Based on history, probably not... but neither would I have thought what they have already accomplished would've happened.

But what gives them a reasonable chance for continued domination is the simple fact that the power in the SEC is not concentrated in a few teams. Great teams come and go because of coaching changes, aging coaches, NCAA penalties or a host of other things. But the current power with the SEC is that there is not just one or two powerful teams...there are at least 4 very good, dominant programs playing right now. And what are the odds of all 4 of them going into a swan dive?   To me, that is what separates the SEC from the conferences in the last 50 years.

To this point I have focused on achievements on the field but the lifeblood of a team's success is money. Money allows you to build great facilities and to hire the best coaches. With great facilities and great coaches you can recruit the best talent. We could also bring up location. As we all know, the south is pretty good in providing the best high school talent and, it's a rapidly growing region, therefore that fact shouldn't change. The SEC sits right in the middle of all that talent and therefore they are, at a minimum, in as good a position as any conference to reap the benefits of location.

But let's get back to the real difference maker...money.   Based on an article in Forbes (2009), the top twenty richest teams in college football are:

1.Tex

2.ND

3.Penn St

4.Neb.

 5.Ala

 6.UF

7.LSU

8.Ohio St

9. Georgia

10. Oklahoma

11. Mich

12. S Car

13. Tenn

14. Auburn

15. USC

16. Mich St

17. Arkansas

18. Tex A&M

19. Wisconsin

20. Ok St.  

This top 20 list of the richest teams looks eerily similar to the annual top twenty ranked teams.But like I pointed out earlier, this shouldn't come as a surprise but, the thing that jumps out is the conference distribution of the teams.( I have included Tex A&M in the SEC.)  

SEC..................9

Big 10...............6

Big 12...............3

 Independent......1

PAC 10.............1

ACC.................0

Big East............0  

If anybody had questions about why the SEC and the Big 10 can afford to be choosy when it comes to new members, the money machines that reside there should provide  some insight to this question.  

If you wonder why the Big 10 doesn't match the SEC on the field, look no further than location. But this perception of squandering financial resources may be skewed by the Big 10's lack of success in the biggest bowl games.Keep in mind  they are second behind the SEC in top ten teams over the last 9 year.  

Which brings me to my third point. Not only does conventional wisdom tell us that the success of a particular conference is cyclical, but the SEC has primarily risen to the top because of it's recent run of national champions and this is driving that perception. At a glance it  appears as if there is some support for this assertion.   I have previously mentioned the fact that, over the history of the BCS series, the SEC has had five different schools win the big prize. Let's look at a table of the top ten teams (according to the AP) since 2002 (the reason I picked this time period was it was easy...the chart I found only had these dates but it should serve for purposes of illustration).      

year

SEC

Big 10

Big 12

Pac 10

ACC

Big East

2002

1

3

2

1

1

0

2003

2

3

1

2

1

0

2004

2

1

2

2

1

0

2005

3

2

1

1

1

1

2006

3

2

0

1

0

1

2007

2

1

3

1

1

1

2008

2

2

3

2

0

0

2009

2

3

2

0

1

0

2010

3

2

2

1

0

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Totals

20

19

13

11

6

3

  (Let me mention several things before discussing what the table may tell us. I have put teams like Miami in the ACC count even though they got their top ten finishes while in the Big East. Same goes for Texas A&M, Nebraska and TCU. I went with current  or soon-to-be conference configuration.)  

Now, what can we glean from the table? Of the 6 AQ conferences,  the SEC and the Big 10 are head and shoulders above the other conferences in top ten appearances with the Big 12 and Pac 10 neck and neck in the middle. As expected, the ACC comes in fifth and the Big East is, for lack of a better word, embarrassing.  

 I think the table also makes an argument that the Big 10's relatively poor reputation stems from the fact that they have not had success in big bowl games, especially national championship games. The Big 10's record in BCS bowls is 11 wins and 12 losses so this further supports the contention that the losses have hurt them more than the wins have helped. Simply put...their record of just under .500 shouldn't detract too much from their number of  top ten appearances in the AP poll.  

 Next, one may point out that the SEC is not dominating the AP polls like they have in the #1 race. This is true and tends to support those that say winning a national championship will fix the perception of a particular conference. As a former FSU player and current commentator would say....not so fast my friend!  

 Don't get lost by the SEC's slim margin in top ten appearances. They are still # 1 in that regard but pay attention to the trend. They have the steadiest up tick in numbers and, if you were to draw a curve like charting a stock, you'd say that an investment in the SEC looks to be the most promising (at the same time you'd be dumping stock in the ACC and the Big East). Bottom line... although not as convincing as the SEC's run in national championships and money, this method of looking at conferences supports the proposition that the SEC is king and appears to be improving, or at least solidifying, that position.  

The last factor I should mention before getting to the poll question is attitude. What is the current attitude of the SEC with respect to their place in the sun? I think that may be best illustrated by this quote from SEC commissioner M. Slive when discussing the removal of the two-team conference limit on BCS bowls. "I think there are going to be several issues that are important enough to have serious discussion about, and that would be one of them."   On some ACC blog sites there has been discussion about the possibility of the conference placing two teams in BCS bowls in any one year. For the SEC and Big 10, this is a normal occurence. Now, we have the SEC commissioner discussing opening up the possibility of sending three teams to the BCS big money party.  From this comment, I think it's fair to say that the SEC thinks their future domination of college football looks very bright.    

So, the current streak of 7 of the last 13 BCS championships and 9 of the top 20 richest teams in college football should send shivers down the spin of any conference that wants to steal the mantle of the best college football  group in America from them. Trends in top ten AP appearances only provides additional ammunition to the "feel good" condition of the member schools.And an accurate reading of this feeling has been reflected in the comments of their commissioner with respect to being the beneficiary in placing 3 teams in the post season, BCS bowl picture.  

 If there ever was a stacked deck in college sports it now resides in the SEC and that brings us to the poll question. Although you are a FSU fan, try and look at it through the eyes of the member schools of the SEC.    

 Does the fact that the SEC is solidly entrenched in the penthouse of college football hurt the chances of FSU being invited into that club ? In other words, do they really need another solid  team to retain their position?  

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