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Monday, November 12, 2007

These aren't the droids you're looking for

You knew it was going to happen.

Michigan, playing without its senior QB and one of the best running backs in the country, loses to 7-3 Wisconsin at Camp Randell, where the Badgers have won something like 24 out of their last 26, and assclowns like Pat Forde says Michigan is just "an empty set of shoulder pads."

Ohio State loses to a resurgent 7-3 Illinois squad and college football writers from coast to coast can't wait to rush to their keyboards to type up stories about how "it was better to expose Ohio State this year on November 10 than in the BCS title game."

Fucking amazing.

Yet if a the top two teams in the SEC were to lose to 7-3 teams? Just shows the depth and quality of the conference.

Why? Because they say so, that's why.

I've said this before, but I'm going to say it again: the Big Ten might be down this year, but that doesn't mean the SEC is the second coming of the NFL's AFC. At least not in any way that is measurable since SEC teams refuse to play anybody outside the conference. Instead, fans and officials associated with the league continually spew forth "the league's so tough, why should we" party line like it's out of some Karl Rove college football handbook: say it enough times and it becomes the truth.

But some people are starting to take notice of the clever ploy. Under the sub heading, "No competition" was this blurb in the LA TIMES yesterday...

"Maybe Les Miles was right when he said the Southeastern Conference provided stiffer competition than the Pacific 10 and other conferences. But when it comes to playing out of conference, SEC teams clearly seek out cupcakes.

SEC teams this season are playing only 14 of 48 nonconference games against teams from other Bowl Championship Series conferences.

By comparison, the Atlantic Coast Conference is playing 22 of 48 nonconference games against BCS opponents; the Big East is playing 15 of 40; and the Pac-10 11 of 30.

So far, SEC teams are 5-5 against teams from other BCS conferences. That trails the Big Ten (9-4), ACC (9-8) and Pac-10 (6-4).

"I can understand the reluctance to schedule other national powers, because week in and week out this conference is very competitive," said Miles, whose team will face out-manned Louisiana Tech today. "Sometimes if you play an early opponent that's a national team, it requires every effort to get a victory and it may well slow the momentum of your season if you misfire."

Spoken like a true company man.


CrimeNotes said...

A comment e-mailed into my own site hit this well:

Here is a list of SEC teams, with each team's best nonconference win in parentheses:

Alabama (Houston)
Arkansas (Troy)
Auburn (Kansas State)
Florida (Troy)
Georgia (Oklahoma State)
Kentucky (Louisville)
LSU (Virginia Tech)
Mississippi (Memphis)
Mississippi State (UAB)
South Carolina (North Carolina)
Tennessee (Southern Miss)
Vanderbilt (Miami, OH)

Exactly one signature win among the bunch, maybe two if you count Kentucky beating overrated Louisville. Meanwhile, the likely East division champ is a few weeks removed from being blown out by a Cal team that is now in the middle of the pack in the Pac-10. Alabama is playing for the West division title this week after losing to Florida State. [We can now add Mississippi State to the 'Bama list. -ed.] Mississippi State is a nice story but was completely outclassed against West Virginia.

The SEC is probably the best league - there might be 11 bowl-eligible teams for gosh sakes. But this idea that it's better than ever is just hyperbolic talk. Aside from LSU and Georgia, nobody from the league should even be in the top 20.

The "they-beat-each-other-up" logic is circular and self-serving. "The worse we play, the better we are" - that should be the SEC's motto.

Annapolisbuckeye said...

Well spoken. There are times when we must cross all divides and unite together in show of solidarity.

The SEC powers up the media machine each year and they have been way too successful. It creates the perfect situation: lose and it is because the SEC is so good, win and it is because they are a great team.

I can't believe a Ron Zook coached Illinois isn't better than Kentucky!

Oh, and from this point on, we're sworn enemies.


Katie said...

Nice post Yost. I really was blown away by the ESPN write up on Michigan after the Wisky loss. It was as if the last 8 games we won were against high school teams. Damned if we do and damed if we don't. Nice to see you spell it out here, hopefully you can prevent more people from drinking the SEC kool-aid!

Chuck said...

I've never been a big fan of Forde to begin with, but his column is just plain stupid. I'm not gonna sit here and say Michigan is a top 5 team, but it's just an asinine time to write about how they're terrible. This game meant zero (playing for Big 10 next week regardless of outcome of this game, zero chance of at-large BCS bid), and you sit the 2 most important members of your team.

Gee, what happens when you're offense is outmanned due to injuries? You can't move the ball and your defense is on the field all game, and you'll give up like 477 yards of offense. What happens if Hart and Henne play? They probably move the ball a lot more and keep the defense off the field.

Is Michigan a great team? Certainly not, but to point that out based on Saturday's game is too easy and obvious for a guy working for the worldwide leader.

I'm not impressed.

Jeffrey said...

I'm not going to subject myself to reading Forde, but recall that he's been on an anti-Michigan tear since before the season began, waving around the phrase "general studies" as evidence that Michigan is academically bankrupt. He kept the Harbaugh story alive, not Mike Hart, which would've been fine if Forde had been serious and not looking for cheap points. He's made a lot of snide allusions to "general studies" as the season has gone on. Not sure what the deal is, but he's sort of made it a personal Michigan to get in every possible stab at Michigan over the past four months. He's sort of a geographically unmoored Drew Sharp.

Out of Conference said...

Don't you guys have your own game and conference to worry about this week? I mean, just because it's not "The Game of Century" like you (meaning Big Ten folk, not MZone specifically) dubbed it last year doesn't mean you shouldn't put your heart into some good old fashioned hate for your opponent this week instead of setting up the "Yeah we lost, but at least we're not the SEC" defense.

Seriously, the entire world knows the SEC ooc schedule. Given the way things are decided (read: not a playoff system) - why should SEC teams schedule a hit to the bottom line in terms of both financial money not coming in because you scheduled one less home game and a potential hit to the BCS race. We don't typically need tough ooc games to boost our SOS. Not all BCS conferences can make that claim.
Besides, crimenotes- what's your SEC OOC magic list look like after the next two rivalry weeks are done? UofF will have added FSU, UGA will add GT, USCe will add Clemson. Suddenly that list looks almost as, if not more impressive than, any other BCS conference. Pick and choose how you need to support your argument though. I fully support the right to free speech. Very few legitimate people are claiming the Big Ten is not a good football conference, so I don't know why you few feel the need to get defensive.

Matt said...

We can shut up Pat Forde with a convincing win over OSU. Not one that says that we got lucky. No. One for the fucking ages. One in which Henn, Hart, Long, and Carr go out there and leave their mark on the rivalry and seal their legacies in a positive way.

No wait. And then we can really shut up all the haters by going to the Rose Bowl and winning. This Michigan team needs to show people once and for all that it doesn't quit.

SECisJustBetter said...

MIchigan loses to Appy State, Northwestern loses to Duke, Minnesota loses to FAU.

At least the SEC beats their cupcakes.

srudoff said...

we're not comparing the sec to the big ten

we're saying that the SEC isn't heads and tails above EVERY OTHER FUCKING CONFERENCE like the media would like you to believe.

try playing some ooc road games for a change

your 12 teams have played 7 ooc road games this year and 3 of the 7 were scheduled by miss and miss state. the other 4 included at Tulane and at North Carolina. nice.

Florida hasn't played an OOC road game out of the state of florida in 19 years

srudoff said...

From the Chicago Sun Times...

ATLANTA -- Auburn is coming off a win over Tennessee Tech, which, for those who were wondering, is an actual team and not one that was made up for a television show.

A quick glance at Arkansas' schedule might lead one to think the Razorbacks were making a run at the Sun Belt Conference championship.

And what about Troy? The rural Alabama school has played enough teams in the big, bad Southeastern Conference to qualify as a junior member.

The SEC calls itself the toughest football league in the country, a claim that largely goes unchallenged in these parts and is certainly hard to dispute in a year when 11 of the 12 teams might wind up being eligible for bowls.

Still, a closer look reveals another, less-flattering explanation for all those gaudy records: SEC teams rarely venture away from home for nonconference games or play schools from other BCS leagues.

To put it bluntly, they've scheduled a bunch of patsies, a factor that should be taken into account at bowl time. Certainly, it's a lot easier to become eligible for the postseason when you have a 4-0 head start and six wins is enough to get in the mix.

''The reason we like to have at least seven home games is we sell all our tickets and we've got real big ballparks and we can make a lot of money,'' said South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, one of the few who'll concede a less-altruistic motive in SEC scheduling.

For the most part, coaches and players toe the company line: The conference is so strong that it's impossible to schedule the sort of intersectional, home-and-away series that are popular with fans.

''You know you're going to have a top-10 schedule with the SEC teams you play,'' Georgia cornerback Asher Allen said. ''The SEC is already tough enough.''

So, the schools are content to load up their nonconference schedules with surefire wins against teams from conferences like the Sun Belt, which is sort of like the SEC's Second Division.

Each of the eight Sun Belt schools played at least one SEC opponent this season, led by Troy, which only moved up to the top division in 2001. The Trojans faced Georgia, Florida and Arkansas, picked up big paydays at each stop, and left each with a loss.

In fact, Arkansas played three of its four nonconference games against Sun Belt teams (Troy, North Texas, Florida International), winning by a combined score of 170-43. The Razorbacks' other sacrificial lamb was Chattanooga, a member of the former Division I-AA.

Auburn is one of just three SEC teams that played at least two nonconference games against other BCS affiliated schools. Of course, both were at home, against Kansas State and South Florida.

Last weekend, the Tigers romped to a 35-3 victory over Tennessee Tech, which normally plays schools such as Austin Peay and Cumberland. The Golden Eagles plummeted to 0-19 against major college teams.

''You'd be absolutely crazy to play four good nonconference games with the schedule we already play,'' said Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville, who can't help but wonder if it was worth it playing South Florida.

The Bulls pulled off a stunning 26-23 upset in overtime, which is probably still keeping the No. 17 Tigers down in the rankings.

''If we had played a team that we could have beaten pretty easy, we'd probably be ranked in the top five or six right now,'' Tuberville said. ''But we chose to play a team that was a little more difficult because our fans want to see it.''

Next year, he pointed out, the Tigers open against Big East power West Virginia. However, they won't be playing anyone else of that caliber.

''Most teams like to have one very competitive nonconference game,'' Tuberville said. ''With the other ones, unless you've absolutely lost your mind, you need to get teams that will play at your home and allow you to get guys healthy and play a lot of people.''

A nice way of saying pushovers.

Nobody in the SEC played it safer with its out-of-conference schedule than Arkansas, though embattled coach Houston Nutt said it's an anomaly the way things worked out. The Razorbacks recently played home-and-home against USC, and they've signed on for a two-year series with Texas beginning next year.

''It's just a one-year deal,'' Nutt said of this year's weak schedule, which could help the Razorbacks (6-3) land a bowl game even though they're just 2-3 within the SEC.

Whatever the circumstances, there's no getting around the fact scheduling has a lot to do with the SEC already having nine six-win teams and two others (Vanderbilt and Mississippi State) that are one win away from the magic bowl-eligible cutoff. Only Mississippi (3-7) is completely out of the postseason picture.

Even with the addition of a 12th game to the schedule, the SEC is playing only 14 of its 48 nonconference games (29 percent) against other BCS schools. The Big 12 is the only major conference playing less (11 of 48, or 23 percent).

By comparison, the Atlantic Coast Conference leads the way with 46 percent (22 of 48) against BCS opponents, followed by the Big East (15 of 40, 38 percent), the Pac-10 (11 of 30, 37 percent) and the Big Ten (13 of 44, 30 percent).

No one comes close to playing as many out-of-conference games at home as the SEC, which has seven stadiums seating at least 80,000 and likes to use them as much as possible. The conference has 40 of 47 non-SEC games at home (85 percent), the other being a neutral-site game between Alabama and Florida State in Jacksonville, Fla.

The remaining BCS conferences benefit far less from the home-field advantage: ACC (60 percent), Big East (65 percent), Big 12 (67 percent), Pac-10 (70 percent) and Big Ten (77 percent).

Another stat you won't hear the SEC touting is its 5-5 record against BCS opponents, with four such games remaining. That trails the Big Ten (9-4), ACC (9-8) and Pac-10 (6-4), and is just ahead of the Big East (7-8) and Big 12 (5-6).

Delving a little deeper, the SEC's five BCS victories have been against teams with a combined 25-20 record. No. 11 Virginia Tech (7-2) is the only currently ranked team outside the conference to lose to an SEC school, falling 48-7 at No. 2 LSU early in the season. The five BCS losses have been to teams that are 33-11.

The SEC is 31-0 against everyone else, a major reason its rate of nonconference wins (88 percent) is first among the BCS leagues.

''I can understand the reluctance to schedule other national powers, because week in and week out this conference is very competitive,'' said LSU coach Les Miles, whose team will face out-manned Louisiana Tech on Saturday. ''Sometimes if you play an early opponent that's a national team, it requires every effort to get a victory and it may well slow the momentum of your season if you misfire.''

Then again, if the SEC is indeed the strongest conference in the country, shouldn't it savor those challenges?

Out of Conference said...

Come on guys - what you and northern media outlets say about the SEC, lots of different folks and different media outlets say about the Big 10. No one's right. It just builds readership, viewership, website hits, and generates athletic department donations to make such bullshit, generalized statements.

Blue (and White) Fan said...

I agree that the SEC is a tremendous conference. And I enjoy watching their games. They are, for the most part, very entertaining.

With that said, hopefully I am not repeating this, but I was listening to the Penn State post-game report this past weekend and the announcer said the B10 already has TEN teams who are bowl eligible. Only Minny will be home this bowl season.

Also, while Florida BCS Title game win over TOSU was very impressive, it was just one game. B10 took 2 of 3 from them last bowl season, but no one wants to talk about that. In fact the B10's only two bowl victories came against SEC teams.

The bottom line is the SEC is great. But so is the B10, Pac Ten, ACC and Big 12. The Big East isn't bad either.

Out of Conference said...

OK, seriousness aside - this is my impression of this post and comments.

Buckeye fan Saturday morning: You f'ing guys lost to App State! We're going to mop the floor with you on the way to the MNC next week.

M fan: Oh yeah, well if you think we're remotely the team that we were those first two games, you're wrong. We've been taking care of business since then. (oh snap, Wisky's looking good today)

Buck fan: Look at Wisky putting it to you. Different team my ass. We own Llllloyd! (ouch, that Juice bitch is getting warmed up)

M fan: You Buckeyes are so classless, haha it looks like the Illini are putting it to you. Damn, we wanted to mop the foor with a #1 OSU team in the Big House next week.

Buck fan: HAHAHA Wisky beat you! Suck it punks! F Michigan! We don't give a damn about the whole state of (shit - why can't we put this Illinois game away?!?)

M fan: Sigh... we both lost. I hate that. The Game won't be the same. What are you doing later?

Buck fan: Me? Nuttin. I have topaint my nails, but then I'm free. You?

M fan: I don't know, I thought you and I could hang out and talk.

Buck fan: Sounds good. I heard the SEC is talking shit about the Big Ten.

M fan: Those bitches! They may look good, but you know they're fake. I don't know why that CBS guy likes them so much. He doesn't know what he's missing.

Buck fan: Well, ESPN is stopping by later if you want to stop by.

M fan: Cool, I'll just check my MySpace site to see what that bitch, SEC is up to and I'll be over later.

SECisJustBetter said...

We had to listen to a whole season's worth of crap last year about how great Ohio State and Michgan were, how it was the game of the century, blah blah blah. And your top dogs fell flat on your face, so deal with it. This shit comes in cycles. Maybe the BIG 10 would be a little more respected if there was a team outside Ohio State or Michigan that is a threat to win the conference title in a given year.

WingRG said...


OOC: that was hilarious (and a very accurate description). This "conference pissing contest" is getting us nowhere.

SECisjustbetter: let's see, when the season started the order in which teams were predicted to finish was UM, Wisconsin, OSU, PSU. So, i'd say that teams outside of UM/OSU are always a threat to win the b10.

srudoff said...

sec champions 1992-2006

92: alabama
93: florida
94: florida
95: florida
96: florida
97: tennessee
98: tennessee
99: alabama
00: florida
01: LSU
02: georgia
03: lsu
04: auburn
05: georgia
06: florida

6 different schools over 15 year

big ten championships 1992-2006

92: michigan
93: osu & wisconsin
94: penn state
95: northwestern
96: northwestern & osu
97: michigan
98: michigan, osu, wisconsin
99: wisconsin
00: michigan, northwestern, purdue
01: illinois
02: iowa & osu
03: michigan
04: iowa & michigan
05: ohio state & penn state
06: ohio state

8 different champs over 15 years with only purdue and iowa that hadn't won it outright

i guess it would be easier if we only fell 3 spots when we lose instead of 7 or 8

Out of Conference said...

Srudoff - hats off for the research. What client is paying your billable hours during this?

If the Big 10 were really 12 teams and you had a conf championship, the 3 way ties wouldn't be there so it may be a moot argument. Conference co-champions are worse than sleeping with Lou Holtz's brother. Still it was a better point than whatever point secisjustbetter was trying to make about a team other than OSU or Michigan contending in the Big 10.

srudoff said...

ha - wikipedia did my research :)

i pointed out that every team except purdue and iowa had won outright championships to combat the co-champion argument.

all you need to know about the sec this year is that 3 loss Tennessee, who lost to 4 loss Cal, 4 loss Alabama and gave up 59 to 3 loss Florida, is in the driver's seat for the SEC Championship game

Mikoyan said...

I blame the SEC bias on Bobby Bowden's retarded son (Terry). When he was doing to the halftime show on ABC, you'd think the sun shone out of the SEC's ass or something. I think there were a couple of times where the black guy (I forget his name) was going to bitch slap him.

srudoff said...

Gary Danielson and his crew were the same way last year for a month before and after the osu/um game

Mikoyan said...

Bobby Bowden's retarded son was that way for however long he was doing the halftime show for ABC...

Yost said...

LOL, OOC! Really funny stuff.

Out of Conference said...

Srudoff - how is that different than the Big Ten this year?

If Michigan beats Ohio State, you'd have a 3 loss team (with losses to teams of which we're all familiar) getting the conference championship outright. Whereas in the SEC, sure, a 3-loss UT would be in the seat for the conference championship game, but they still have to beat an already clinched, one loss BCS #1 LSU, to claim the SEC conference championship. Either way, you can have 3-loss teams controlling their own destiny for conference championships (with wins over 1-loss teams in the coming 1-3 weeks).