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The SEC: just another conference

Posted by Doug on December 7, 2006

It's not that I think the SEC is a bad conference. In fact, this year I'd probably vote for the SEC as the nation's strongest conference (though the PAC-10 is very close). My position is simply that the SEC is one of five conferences that are roughly of equal strength and, in any given year, might be the strongest or might be the weakest of the five. It's too early to tell whether the New Big East will join that group or not, but they seem to be on the right track.

Since the BCS was born in 1998, here are the records of those five conferences, plus the conference of one known as Notre Dame, against each other:

SEC 6- 8 16-14 14-13 34-34 2- 3 72-72
P10 8- 6 27-21 23-23 6- 9 10-16 74-75
B10 14-16 21-27 19-17 16-12 13-14 83-86
B12 13-14 23-23 17-19 9-15 3- 4 65-75
ACC 34-34 9- 6 12-16 15- 9 8- 6 78-71
ND1 3- 2 16-10 14-13 4- 3 6- 8 43-36

[NOTE: in the ACC data, I'm including all the teams that are currently in the ACC.]

The glaring lack of evidence of SEC dominance was no surprise to me, but I am a bit surprised by the Big XII's poor showing. I figured they were also Just Another Conference, but they may actually be, in the long term, a slight notch below the other four.

Also of note if you're comparing the SEC to say, the Big 10 or the PAC 10, is that the Big 10 plays about 28% more games (per team) against major conference teams --- counting Notre Dame --- than does the SEC, and the PAC 10 plays about 24% more.

Now, I've heard it said that conference strength is really about strength at the top of the conference. Here are the records if we consider only interconference games between two teams who each finished over .500 within their own conference.

SEC P10 B10 B12 ND1
SEC 2- 3 8- 8 4- 5 2- 1 16-17
P10 3- 2 10- 5 11-10 10- 4 34-21
B10 8- 8 5-10 7- 4 7- 8 27-30
B12 5- 4 10-11 4- 7 2- 2 21-24
ND1 1- 2 4-10 8- 7 2- 2 15-21

I threw the ACC out of this one because of the Miami / Virignia Tech / Boston College confusion. If you include the rest of the ACC, it doesn't change things much. I also counted Notre Dame as having a winning record in its conference every year.

The USC Trojans are a ridiculous 15-3 against teams from the top halves of the other major conferences, which accounts for almost the entire over-.500-ness of the PAC 10. Still, the PAC 10's case as the strongest conference of the BCS era is strong: their best team has played more tough teams than anyone and has won almost all those games, while the rest of the conference's top-half teams are .500 against the other conferences' top-half teams.

But this post isn't about making a case for the PAC 10, it's about pointing out that, if the SEC was so good, you might think they'd win more games than they lose in the long run against the conferences that they're supposed to be better than.

OK, be honest, what do you think of this schtick: what if I start referring to the SEC as "the JAC"? Does that work, or is it too talk radio?

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 7th, 2006 at 6:27 am and is filed under College. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.