The Myth of SEC Speed

RationalSchema
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The Myth of SEC Speed

For those College football fans out there you know what I am talking about. I know this has nothing to do with religion, but it is a belief and misperception that is perpetuated by the sports media, mainly ESPN. The idea is that the SEC is a faster conference than any other conference in the country. The belief is that other conferences cannot compete with the SEC because they are not fast enough and they get burnt by this "SEC Speed." I joke around that a 4.3 forty in Southern states is faster then northern states. The announcers promote the idea that these schools just don't have speed, they have special SEC speed. A common conference that is compared to the SEC is the Big10. The Big10 is believed to be large and slow and unable to withstand SEC speed.  I will show how these idea has no basis in fact.

 

Similar to most theistic and irrational ideas, one anectodal event is given as evidence or FACT that supports the belief. Similar to theism this belief is supported by emotional impact and not a look at the facts overtime and across situations. The event that is commonly cited as support of SEC speed over Big10 slownes is Ohio State's 41-14 loss to Florida in the national Championship game last year. A huge loss for OSU and they did get crushed. However, can you use this as evidence that their is SEC speed and that the Big10 can't hang with SEC speed??

 Well, if we look at the other two SEC vs. Big10 bowl matchups last year we find that the big10 won both games. PSU beat Tennessee and Wisconsin beat Arkansas.

Since the beginning of the BCS era (Bowl Championship Series which began in the 1998 season) the SEC is 18-17 vs. the Big10. Statistically a dead heat. How then is there this overwhelming dominance by this speical SEC speed??

Here are some more facts.

Of these 35 games the big10 won more games as the lower ranked team then the SEC did as the lower ranked teams. To highlight this idea---It means that the 4th or 5th ranked team in the big10 beat the 2nd or 3rd ranked team in the SEC more than vice versa.

Finally, bowl games are played in the South given SEC schools and advantage. Taken this confound into consideration the big10 is doing well against this mysterious "SEC SPEED."

 

 

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Hambydammit
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If there is a close second

If there is a close second to religion for superstition and lack of critical thinking, it has to be sports.

Now, don't get me wrong... Georgia (my alma mater) did just put an astonishing ass whipping on Hawaii, but that was because the stupid BCS bowl committee chose revenue over good games. Georgia vs. USC or Georgia vs. Ohio State would have been a good game. (WVU would have been good, too, but we're damn tired of playing them. We whipped them last time.)

I'm not suggesting that I engage in any illegal activities, but in my mock betting this year, I won over 60% of my games, with Vegas spreads... not just picking the winner. I dare say I have some experience and actual knowledge in this arena.

The SEC isn't individually faster than the Big 10 or Pac 10. All three of those divisions have extremely good depth in the top two or three teams. What I would suggest is that teams like Georgia, Florida, and LSU have astonishing depth and better recruiting, which gives the impression of greater speed. First team vs. first team, I don't think we're much faster than anybody, if at all. However, our second and third strings are faster because we have a better shot at recruiting. Thus the appearance of more speed.

Also, the SEC is objectively deeper in terms of the divisions. In the SEC east, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina, and Kentucky are solid. In the West, LSU, Alabama, Auburn, and sometimes Arkansas are solid. Year in and year out, the SEC has 8 solid teams. The Big 10, though it doesn't have as many teams, has a lower percentage of powerhouse teams. Likewise, the PAC 10.

As of right now, the SEC is 6-2 in bowl games, despite Florida losing a game everyone thought they would win. Last year, we did equally well or better, if memory serves. I'd say there's no doubt that an SEC schedule is very, very hard. Even so, I get very mad at the scheduling committees for not branching out. I'd love to put OSU on an every three year schedule with Georgia or Florida. Same for Notre Dame, Michigan, and USC, and LSU, Auburn, and Tennessee. Playing Middle Tennesse State is boring. I'd rather have four losses and play a tough schedule.

<end rant>

 

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I have to agree with you.

I have to agree with you. There is no question that the SEC has been the best conference the, top to bottom in the past two years. Over the last decade I think the Big10 and SEC have been the dominant conferences and with the emergence of USC the PAC-10 has started to become a force. Some years the big10 is better and others the SEC. Recently the SEC has been better. The main myth I am disputing is that the big10 can't play with the SEC because they are too slow. Obviously not the case. A stat that is shown to prove this is Ohio State's 0-8 record against the SEC, while PSU is 6-2 all time (one a Sugar bowl win over your bulldogs, lol) and Michigan is 7-3 vs. the SEC.

I also agree with you on the playoff and non-conference scheduling. There should only be one cupcake allowed and at least one game against a BCS conference contender.

"Those who think they know don't know. Those that know they don't know, know."


Hambydammit
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So, are you a Big 10 guy,

So, are you a Big 10 guy, or just picking up the case pro bono?  I would like your opinion as a non-SEC guy, though.  Do you think there's a media bias against Georgia?

Clearly, there's a media bias for LSU.  The Katrina thing kicked it off, and now if they pretty much don't suck, they get ranked in the top five.  Not that they're not good -- they are -- but they're the first two loss team ever to play in a BCS championship game.

On the other hand, Georgia is just the winningest team in the entire SEC over the past ten years, with two SEC championships.  We are also the only team to finish with ten wins in ten consecutive seasons... in the entire SEC.  Yet, we get stuck with fucking Hawaii.

Our losses this year were to South Carolina (in the top 20 at the time) and Tennessee (SEC east champions).  Hardly what you'd call cupcake losses.  Besides that, we were a different team once we let Knowshon Moreno play.  That kid is amazing.  He's put up Herschel Walker style numbers.  That's saying a lot.  We've scored 40+ points in four of our last five games... in the tough part of the conference schedule.  We beat Florida. 

Clearly, the BCS committee was interested only in revenue.  They knew that USC would sell out the Rose Bowl, so Illinois would do.  (I realize that the Rose Bowl committee was primarily responsible for this, but ask yourself who would win in a pissing match between the BCS and an individual bowl.)  Same with Georgia.  You could put them against Georgia Southern in the Sugar Bowl, and it would sell out, so Hawaii definitely would do.  Nevermind the fact that they only played two teams with a winning record in the WAC.

Do you think the rest of the country underestimates the SEC (and Georgia specifically)?  Or is it just a money thing, opting for Big 10 and Big 12 teams?

 

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I think it is definately a

I think it is definately a money thing. I haven't really noticed a particular bias against UGA, but admit that Florida and LSU recieve all the press clippings. Even Bama when they are mediocore gets more attention. Tennessee used to receive a ton of attention until their little downslide in the past five years. I think what you notice is what I am saying. Relative to the SEC UGA does not receive as much attention, but I think you get more press nationally then the PSU's, Oregons, Wisconsins, and VaTechs of the world. Sounds like UGA has been putting up great numbers in the SEC. The same thing happened with Wisconsin until Tressell took over OSU. They were the best team in the big10 in the latter half of the 90's, but you still only heard about OSU and Michigan. I think alot of it has to do with getting to National Championships and having hiesman candidates, which is influenced by the media.

 You guys did get screwed in the bowl game, but somebody had to play Hawaii. Missouri should have been in a BCS bowl instead of Illinois or Kansas.

It is all about money and TV ratings. After the Boise State upset over OU last year they probably figured Hawaii could do something similar.

This is why I am so concerned about the so called "SEC Speed." The media practially controls who goes to what bowl, what teams are ranked higher and considered more quality wins and even recruiting. How do we actually know that by beating one team it is a quality win?? Just because the media says so??

Personally, I think alot of the emphasis on a down big10 has to do with the Big Ten Network taking games away from ESPN/ABC.

"Those who think they know don't know. Those that know they don't know, know."


Hambydammit
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Well, correct me if I'm

Well, correct me if I'm wrong on this, but the Big 10 has never (in recent years) been much deeper than Michigan, Ohio State, and Wisconsin.  Penn State hasn't had much to offer, though they have flirted with the top ten a few times.  Illinois has had one or two decent seasons, but beyond that, it's a pretty weak division these days.

I think I'd put Mississippi State against Indiana or Minnesota just about any year.

I agree that the media went upset crazy after this season.  So many upsets in the regular season made them think they could "program upsets" for the bowl games.  I suspect this approach is going to come crashing down on them if they continue to do it.  

Speaking of Heismann candidates, Georgia could have two in a couple of years, although it's not looking like Matt Stafford is going to live up to the hype.  Part of the problem in the SEC is it's just not possible to pass for 500 yards a game.  The defenses are all too good.  There's no way to run 80 plays and complete 30 of 45 the way they do in the PAC 10.  

The SEC is traditionally a defense oriented conference, where 40 points is an anomoly, not the norm.  I guarantee that if you stick USC in an SEC schedule for a year, their per game points would go down 40%.

The media likes blowouts, but they just don't happen much in the south.  There's too much parity.

Oh, this has very little to do with anything, but a friend of mine let the computer play both sides of a seeded playoff system for the top 20 in EA College 07.  Georgia ended up beating LSU in the title game.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Can I just put my hand up

Can I just put my hand up as a Canadian NFL fan and say the your whole method of voting for the best college teams rather than having some kind of actual standings system is pretty messed up?

Sorry, back to your eternal wrangling over the unanswerable questions in college ball. 

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I couldn't agree more. 

I couldn't agree more.  It's so fucked up, there's almost no hope of fixing it.

Consider:

* There's hardly any interconference play between powerhouse teams

* There are around 150 teams

* Theoretically, it's all supposed to happen in one semester of school

* Bowl games pay the schools.  Eliminating bowls is eliminating money from schools who would not make the playoffs, but can make a bowl game

* Seeding tournaments is extremely difficult when none of the teams play each other

I suggest a slightly different system for helping college football.  It won't solve all the problems, but it's reasonably fair to all participants, and will eliminate some of the more glaring problems.

1. No polls of any kind until week 5.  No preseason rankings.  Period.

2. No conference affiliations with bowl games.

3. For BCS games, 1-12 play.  1 plays 2, 2 plays 3, etc.  The BCS rotates which bowl game gets which matchup so that every six years, each of the six biggest bowls gets the national championship

4. Eliminate 1AA non-conference games.

5. Each major conference (SEC, Big 10, Big 12, PAC 10, ACC, Big East) has a rotating non-conference schedule with all the others.  In other words, once every year, every team from a big conference plays another team from a big conference.  No exceptions.

6.  This should have been 5... eliminate 1 conference game from each school's schedule to make room for a big non-conference game.

Finally, screw the BCS.  Then kill it.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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I would love a playoff and

I would love a playoff and this year would have been fantastic. Look at what happened to OU last night. Just think of all the teams. OSU, USC, LSU, UGA, WVU, V-Tech, Mizzouri, Kansas, Florida, Arizona State etc......

As far as the Big10 not having depth, I think this is true in recent years. PSU was #3 in the country in the 2005 season behind USC and Texas. PSU has been down this century and OSU, Michigan, and Wisconsin have been the top 3 as of late. PSU won't be back consistently until Paterno leaves.

Before about 3 or 4 years ago Purdue and IOWA were contenders and each one a big10 title in the last 8 years along with illinois in 2001. Minnesota crashed this year, but was  a good middle of the road team. Until recently I thought the big10 had more depth than other conferences with even a Northwestern coming up once in a while. Michigan State was good with Saban at the end of the 90's. Even though they were good top to bottom, the top teams stayed the same. This does not seem to be the case with the SEC recently. The SEC has that depth, but the top changes each year, with the exception of LSU being their since 2003. However,  until 2003 the conference was only Fla and Tennessee, with an occassional run by Bama or UGA. Auburn came into a team under Tuberville and things started rolling. Not until the last few years has Carolina really become competitive and Kentucky may be a fluke like Northwestern has been. Arkansas wouldn't be anything w/o Mcfadden, but that may change with Petrino.

This supports my arguement that these things are cyclical and the SEC is better top to bottom right now. Five to 10 years ago Auburn, LSU, Kentucky, Ark, and Carolina were as compettitive as PSU and Michigan State are today, but five years ago them along with IOWA, Purdue, ILL, and Minnesota were very competitive. 

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Yeah.  Things are

Yeah.  Things are cyclical, but it remains to be seen how the new ESPN influence will affect that.

I don't think Kentucky was a fluke.  They're not going to be a top SEC team, but they're not going to be an automatic win anymore.  South Carolina is potentially going to have a good program.  I think Spurrier is a real ass, but he's a great coach.  His recruiting can only get better.

One of the reasons the SEC rotates so much is that all the teams really are tough, and one bad week can cost you a title.  Look how many teams have winning records and good BCS strength of schedule.

Arkansas is like Purdue or Illinois.  Every few years, they have a very strong team.  (You're right.  McFadden is Arkansas this year.)

One thing that has helped football a lot is the restrictions on scholarships.  It's acted a bit like the salary cap in the NFL, which has been more competitive the last few years.

 I agree that Penn State is trading a few years of mediocrity for letting Paterno die as coach or retire.  Truly, they owe it to him if anyone is owed such a thing.

Out of curiosity, what do you think of the BCS championship this year?  Competitive as promised?  Is it really the two best teams in the country now?

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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As most years they don't

As most years they don't have the two best teams playing in the championship. The problem with the bowls is it does not reward teams for improving throughout the season. Obviously USC is playing at the highest level right now. OSU and LSU are, in my mind, the two best teams throughout the entire course of the season, but not necessarily the best team in the country. This is where football misses great games. In college basketball you get 3,4,and 5 seeds that are playing great ball having the chance to make a run at it. Who cares if they lost a few games in the middle of the season. They improved the most throughout the season and are formidable opponnents. You never get to see this in football. What about an oncoming WVU, USC, and now a healthy Michigan team?? What about giving Mizzoui and Kansas a shot??

That being said, I think it is a great matchup and should be an exciting game. I think OSU let their ego get to them last year. Tressell won't let that happen again. Last year was an anomaly for them, usually their D is the strength. I think it will be a low scoring D-battle. It will be very hard for LSU to move the ball on OSU. They struggled against lesser defenses (Tenn and Ark) at the end of the season. OSU will stay conservative on O and won't make mistakes. I really think they are so close that it is going to come down to Les Mile's cavalier gambling. Against OSU it won't payoff and LSU will suffer from those mistakes.

"Those who think they know don't know. Those that know they don't know, know."