SEC Football: 10 Reasons the BCS Needs the SEC
The SEC is the premier conference in college football. With six national championships in a row, there is little evidence to the contrary.
Yes, the streak of national championships is likely coming to an end this season, since there are zero undefeated teams hailing from the nation's most powerful conference at the moment. However, it's ending on a technicality. If the top three teams remain undefeated, there will be no SEC team in the national title game to defend the streak.
So what? Does that mean that the BCS needs the SEC? Why can't it just mean that the SEC needs the BCS? In the next 10 slides, we will answer those two questions. Here are 10 reasons that the BCS needs the SEC.
10. The BCS Certainly Doesn't Need the Pac-12
In the grand scheme of things, the Pac-12 is not a necessary conference. At least not during the BCS era. Since 1998, the Pac-12 has won one national championship, in 2004. That was later vacated, but we will not nitpick here. On the field, USC won the game.
In 2005's edition of the title game, USC lost to Texas. That nullified what could have been the Pac-12's second national title game in a row. In 2010, Oregon made the national championship but lost to Auburn. So, historically, the loss of the Pac-12 as a conference would be negligible. If you take away the vacated win, the Pac-12 has absolutely zero "chops."
The Pac-12 has two or three teams that are occasional contenders for the national championship: Oregon, USC and Stanford.
This season, Oregon is ranked No. 2 in the BCS and is heading to the title game as long as its season remains perfect. After Oregon, the next team appearing in the BCS is Stanford at No. 13. Missing the Pac-12 would not be that big a deal. This is what the top 10 would look like without the Pac-12:
1. Kansas State
2. Notre Dame
7. Texas A&M
8. South Carolina
9. Florida State
That's not very different from what is actually the case, though the Oregon Ducks would disagree.
9. ...nor the Big East or the Big Ten
The Big Ten has one national championship out of three appearances. All appearances were by the Ohio State Buckeyes, who won it all in 2002 against then-Big East-champion Miami (FL).
Ohio State is a great program, and Michigan could return to greatness at any time under Brady Hoke. However, to say that the BCS needs the Big Ten is just incorrect. The Big Ten needs the BCS. Heck, the Big Ten needs Ohio State. If Ohio State were to bolt for another conference, the Big Ten would be hurting. If Michigan went with the Buckeyes to the new conference, the Big Ten would shrivel and die.
If the Big Ten were removed from the current BCS Top 10, there would be no difference. (If Ohio State weren't sanctioned, there would be an undefeated team dropped from the top 10.)
The Big East has been dropping teams like Skrillex drops bass over the past few years. From the Virginia Tech Hokies to the West Virginia Mountaineers, the big East is quickly approaching non-AQ status. The good news is that the playoff system will not recognize the "AQ" term, so the Big East gets a little reprieve from the disaster that's happening.
What is left is a conference that is a husk of its former glory. The Big East gets no respect because the best teams are gone. While the Big East enjoys the spoils of a BCS bid for the conference champion, nobody would really consider the current Big East champion as a national title contender, even if it was undefeated.
If the Big East dropped out of the rankings right now, the BCS Top 15 would remain unchanged. (Louisville is the highest-ranked Big East team at No. 19.)
8. The Streak
Now that we've established that the BCS could survive without three of the top six conferences, it's time to start putting the SEC's resume on the board big-time. The SEC has won the last six national championships, and the results look like this:
2006: Florida 41, Ohio State 14 (SEC vs. Big Ten)
2007: LSU 38, Ohio State 24 (SEC vs. Big Ten)
2008: Florida 24, Oklahoma 14 (SEC vs. Big 12)
2009: Alabama 37, Texas 21 (SEC vs. Big 12)
2010: Auburn 22, Oregon 19 (SEC vs. Pac-12)
2011: Alabama 21, LSU 0 (SEC vs. SEC)
The streak of SEC national championships is ridiculously diverse. Four teams have contributed to that streak at the expense of three different conferences. Even if a person's team hasn't been in the national championship game, people have tuned in to watch the SEC hopefully lose.
The ratings dip last year was proof. The casual football fan didn't care about an SEC vs. SEC match, much less a rematch of a game he or she had just seen happen in November, regardless of the different result.
7. The Gambles
The BCS has made a few gambles over the years, and most have favored the SEC. LSU in 2007 was a two-loss team selected over many two-loss options. As the Tigers were sitting at No. 2 in the pre-bowl rankings, they had earned the spot. There was much disagreement, though. Even the No. 5 Virginia Tech Hokies had one first-place vote in the AP Poll (see previous link).
The BCS appeared to gamble with the one-loss LSU Tigers in 2003, the two-loss LSU Tigers in 2007, the one-loss Florida Gators in 2008 and the one-loss Alabama Crimson Tide in 2011.
Every single time, the SEC bailed out the BCS by winning. If LSU, Florida or Alabama had lost any one of those games, the crucifixion of the BCS would have been nationwide. Granted, the 2008 situation was almost completely canceled out by the fact that Alabama laid an egg against Utah in the Sugar Bowl.
Without the SEC's wins, the BCS would have absolutely zero credibility. Especially the Alabama-LSU match last year.
6. The Only Perfect Conference
The SEC's only national championship loss since 1998 was LSU's loss to Alabama in 2011. In the eight years that an SEC team has appeared in the national championship game, and SEC team has taken home the hardware in all eight years.
1998: Tennessee Volunteers
2003: LSU Tigers
2006: Florida Gators
2007: LSU Tigers
2008: Florida Gators
2009: Alabama Crimson Tide
2010: Auburn Tigers
2011: Alabama Crimson Tide
The SEC has owned the BCS era. With only two BCS national championships left, no other conference can even come close.
5. Follow the Money
Money talks, and the world of college football is no different. The BCS selection committee has criteria with which to select the five BCS bowls' participants. While BCS rank plays a large role in that, last year's Sugar Bowl proved that money talks quite loudly.
The Michigan Wolverines were ranked No. 13 in the BCS rankings" href="http://espn.go.com/college-football/rankings/_/year/2011/week/15">pre-bowl 2011 BCS Rankings, and they were selected to go to the second-best bowl of the season.
This is where program value comes into play. The SEC is home to nine of the 17 most valuable college football programs in the nation, according to Forbes.
Those teams are LSU (No. 4), Alabama (No. 6), Georgia (No. 7), Arkansas (No. 8), Auburn (No. 9), Florida (No. 11), Tennessee (No. 12), South Carolina (No. 16) and Texas A&M (No. 17). While this is not money that goes to the BCS, it's certainly indicative of the type of money that the respective fanbases can bring to a bowl game.
If you want to sell tickets, put teams with rich fanbases into the mix. Speaking in terms of complete conference performance, that's the SEC.
4. The Recruits
For this slide, we will look at the recent recruiting classes (via ESPN.com) and the SEC's performance.
2006: Florida (No. 1) and Georgia (No. 4.)
2007: Florida (No. 2), South Carolina (No. 4), Tennessee (No. 5), LSU (No. 6), and Auburn (No. 7)
2008: Alabama (No. 3), Florida (No. 4) and Georgia (No. 5)
2009: LSU (No. 1), Alabama (No. 2), Florida (No. 5) and Georgia (No. 6)
2010: Florida (No. 1), Alabama (No. 3), Auburn (No. 4), LSU (No. 8) and Tennessee (No. 9)
2011: Alabama (No. 2), Auburn (No. 3), Georgia (No. 6) and LSU (No. 10)
2012: Alabama (No. 1), Florida (No. 4) and Georgia (No. 5)
If you want to be successful in life, you have to look forward. Looking forward from 2006, the SEC has set itself up for national title contention in every year since. The conference has backed that recruiting up with performance on the field. In some cases, there has been contention where contention was not expected, but we will cover that more in the next slide.
The future of college football lies with the youth. The youth are piling up in the SEC, and they are developing into monsters that have taken over the BCS Top 10. Six of the top 10 teams hail from the SEC. That's because the SEC has owned three of the top five recruiting classes in every year since 2007 except for 2011, when Georgia came in at No. 6.
3. The Coaches
If you checked the link in the previous slide, you will see that there are a number of teams from the Pac-12, Big 12, Big Ten and ACC with top 15 recruiting classes. So many, in fact, that it raises an important question: If there are a ton of quality teams in other conferences with quality recruiting classes, where are they in the national championship picture?
The answer is: They are still in training. Florida State was making a serious national title run until it dropped the game against NC State by one point in Week 6. Texas is another big name on that list, and the Longhorns have really disappointed since 2009. They really need a quarterback.
Will Muschamp, Kevin Sumlin, Steve Spurrier, Mark Richt, Les Miles and Nick Saban are all coaches in the SEC with major accomplishments on their resumes. Muschamp had Florida as high as No. 2 after taking down the defending conference champion (LSU). Sumlin has Texas A&M in the Top 10 after knocking down No. 1 Alabama.
Spurrier is two points away from having the SEC Championship Game squarely in its jaws. (Lost to LSU in Death Valley...just like almost everyone else has.) Richt has the Georgia Bulldogs heading to Atlanta for the second year in a row. Les Miles is dominating his schedule while missing enough players to assemble a Big East champion.
Nick Saban has two national championships in three years at Alabama, and he is staring down the barrel of a potential conference championship during a major rebuilding year.
All these coaches have done one thing that other coaches couldn't do: They've developed top 10 recruiting classes into top 10 teams. Other teams have not done anything of the sort, though Mack Brown at Texas can do that simply by winning the rest of his games. Knocking off the Kansas State Wildcats would shoot his Longhorns right up into the mix for a BCS bowl.
The coaching in the SEC is the best in the country, but that's not to take away from guys like Bill O'Brien, Chip Kelly, Brian Kelly and Bill Snyder.
2. The SEC Could Thrive Without the BCS, Not Vice-Versa
Looking over the past few years, there has been much debate as to whether the national champion is truly the national champion. Through the slides so far, we have discussed each year that was questionable (except the undefeated Auburn year where the Tigers got shafted).
The SEC has the most money, the best players, the best coaches and the best resume of any conference during the BCS era. What is about to be proposed may come as a shock to some, but hear me out.
The SEC could split off the rest of the conferences and create a Southeastern Athletic Association (referred to as the SEAA from now on) to compete with the rest of the NCAA on the field. What we would have is actually a slightly better situation than we've had since 1998.
Basically, the premise would be that the SEAA would play its 14-team schedule with no "cupcakes" at all. Record wouldn't matter on the national scale, because the strength of that schedule would be the best in the nation for any given team.
The SEAA would produce a champion, and the other conferences would all get together after their conference championships and play a buy-in game to the national championship against the SEAA champion. The winner of that game would be the NCAA national champion.
How would that have affected the controversial years? Just like this:
2007: Ohio State plays Virginia Tech for the buy-in, and the winner plays LSU for the title.
2008: Utah plays Oklahoma for the buy-in, and the winner plays Florida for the title.
2009: Texas plays Cincinnati for the buy-in, winner plays Alabama for the title.
2010: Oregon plays TCU for the buy-in, winner plays Auburn for the title.
2011: Oklahoma State plays Stanford for the buy-in, winner plays LSU for the title.
This would solve one major issue: No single conference would ever have two teams in the national title game, because the SEC would have traded that possibility for a guaranteed spot every year. (That's a small price to pay, by the way.)
If the SEC split off from the BCS and made a deal like this with the rest of the country, it might even get more support than the questionable playoff system that's on the horizon. The BCS cannot survive without the support of the SEC. If the SEC became its own entity, the SEAA would simply continue to be a pipeline that pumped players into the NFL and siphoned talent away from the rest of the country.
The BCS isn't powerful enough to compete with that.
1. Can the BCS Still Exist in the Future?
As discussed already, the BCS has put the SEC in some questionable title games. The SEC has responded by winning them, which proved the BCS right about its selection procedures.
The SEC is a powerful conference, both politically (football politics, of course) and on the field. As the selection committee is formed for the coming playoff system, one major question will be: How are the teams going to be selected?
The BCS computers have been adjusted over the years to produce a No. 1 vs. No. 2 game that is at least respected by the college football nation. Nobody is walking around with "Oklahoma State: 2011 National Champions" T-shirts. (Not according to a quick Google search, anyway.)
So, the BCS selection system has proved that it's pretty darn accurate when it comes to the Top 10 teams in the nation. Even having Oklahoma State ranked barely above Stanford was the right call, based on the three-point Fiesta Bowl victory in overtime last year.
If the playoff selection committee is going to use a set of rankings, it would behoove them not to use the one that has Boise State at No. 22 (Coaches' Poll) or the one that ranks teams without regard to sanctions (AP Poll).
The SEC has the football-political power to ensure that the BCS still exists to rank the Top 25. Other than that point, the BCS is unquestionably going away in lieu of the playoff. If the BCS wants to survive past 2013, it needs the SEC.