SEC scheduling is genius…and a scam.

Surprisingly, the fans of “the greatest organization of teams since the Allies in WWII” are pretty sensitive whenever you poke at their ‘superiority complex’ with information they don’t like. Debate always veers off-topic right away, so I’m putting together the entire basis for my claims that SEC scheduling is brilliant, and amounts to a scam in today’s national (vs. historically regional) college football landscape, and that the conference as a whole is overrated. It’s a great conference, but it’s overrated. Its best team is annually great, but the conference is overrated.

First of all, let me confess something: I love SEC football. I think it’s fantastic, because the passion in the south is what I view as the rightful & beautiful celebration of such an awesome game! It’s the fans that drive me nuts…

  • I think the SEC has been the best conference for the last few years.
  • I think this is self-evident based on the NFL draft, and their performance in the (relatively few) OOC games and bowl games in which the teams were evenly ranked & matched.
  • I also think that the way the SEC approaches scheduling is genius, but a scam.
    • In general, the conference plays nobody for a month, never leaves home, and certainly not their time zone.
    • This cannot be shrugged-away. This matters when we’re talking about 18-22 year old kids who are full-time students, limited practice hours in a week to prepare, etc.
    • Ever since USC swept Auburn and Arkansas (which included a shut-out of top-5 Auburn at Jordan Hare, dropping 55 on Arkansas at home, and *70* on them in the Coliseum), which preceded a mostly the same, undefeated Auburn team from being a victim to the 2004 USC team that murdered Oklahoma in the BCS CG, SEC scheduling has noticeably changed.
    • OOC home & homes have all-but disappeared (thanks to USC?) When SEC teams do travel, it’s to a friendly site against a name-brand teams that coincidentally, are all on the downswing when they’re scheduled (Michigan, VA Tech, Penn St. (h&h), WVU, and getting beat by Boise St.)
    • The lone exception to this has been LSU in some years. They get credit for playing Oregon when they were rolling, and at least making the trips out west, if it was to play teams then at the bottom-end of the Pac-10/12
  • Compared to teams like Stanford, UCLA & USC (the latter two have never played an FCS team–ever), who often play only 6 or 7 home games & 10-11 real games, the average SEC team almost universally plays 8 at home, only 8 in conference, for a total of 8-9 real teams annually.
  • Stated another way, PAC-12 teams nearly universally play 25%–38% more real opponents, 50% or more of which are on the road in a given year.
  • Given the above, the mathematical advantage is massive when applied across the entire conferences, which is how we get what we have every year: SEC teams “float to the top” to quote Ivan Maisel, in September, then circular-logic season ensues.
  • By November, when the full slate of 25—38% more real games has kicked in, you have a significant advantage mathematically, and in perception.
  • Given the indisputable mathematical advantage, and the obvious perception advantage, do you think that had any impact at the end of the season? In getting to the BCS CG’s?

Am I crazy? I mean, ESPN says “the SEC is the best evvahhh!”

Go look at the SEC’s record vs. the Big East in the BCS era (a conference so invested in football, that it has ceased to exist): 17—20 in the regular season, and 5-8 in bowl games. Yep, you read that right. A losing record

“Well, surely that’s an anomaly, right?” Ok. Let’s look at the rest of the Power-5:

  • PAC-12: 13-13
  • Big-10: (I mean, we all know they owned the B1G, right? Ok, if 23-21 is owning them
  • Big-12: 8-12 in regular season

Are you convinced yet? (Certainly not, if you’re SEC guy, because no amount of information will ever get you to publically doubt your ‘vast football superiority’)

“Well, if other teams played the SEC schedule, they’d be massive LOSERS!” Gee, if only we had an idea of what teams from the “weak, no-defense-playing, overrated, flag football conference” like the Big-12 would do if they moved to the SEC. Oh wait! We do!

Mizzou Record BCS era, Big-12: 100-73 57.8% (Bowls: 5-5 50%)

Mizzou Record SEC: 21-10 67.7% (Bowls: 1-0 100%)

Texas A&M Record BCS era, Big-12: 98-76 56.3% (Bowls: 2-8, 20%)

Texas A&M Record SEC: 25-7 78.1% (Bowls: 2-0, 100%)

I rest my case. Not only do the records vs. the other real conferences in the BCS era illustrate that the SEC wasn’t as dominant as the narrative, but the narrative is highly shaped by genius scheduling manipulation.

So why do I care so much? A few reasons: because I love this game, I really believe in rational, data-driven discussion when it comes to the opportunity to compete for a national championship, and because arrogant people annoy the hell out of me. And there is no more of a universally insufferable bunch than SEC fans. Some select few are reasonable about other conferences and teams, but none are reasonable about their own.

This point is free, because I’m a USC fan, and soon-to-be alumni of my dream school:

– USC is 9-5-1 vs. the SEC since the Pac-10 era began in 1978.
– Trojans are 17-10-1 all-time vs. the SEC.
– USC has won its last four games vs. the SEC by an average of 30 points.
– The SEC hasn’t beaten USC since the 1987 Citrus Bowl, 25 years ago.
– USC hasn’t lost at home to an SEC school since September of 1984, over 30 years ago.

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