Now, for some reason, things are starting to heat up between the Florida Gators' and USC Trojans' fanbases. I guess going 5-0 in the bowl season has really got the Pac-10 fanbase thumping its collective chest and fired up.
I can't tell you how many times I read comments from USC—oops, I mean Pac-10—fans proclaiming they're back. This is surprising, because three of the five bowl games the Pac-10 played in were against unranked teams.
But that's beside the point.
Now, this bragging is usually followed up by trashing the SEC and the teams it schedules. Actually, overall strength of schedule and, in particular, out-of-conference schedules are their favorite bones to pick with SEC fans.
I guess it's all in how you look at toughness. Some fans (in particular, Pac-10 fans) want to base a schedule's strength and toughness on opposing team's previous records: how many wins those teams had, how many wins those teams' opponents had, etc. They do not care if a team played ranked teams.
Now, according to these people, I'm just a stupid, simple-minded, southern confederate who doesn't know how to do anything but try and make relations with my sister.
Obviously, I disagree. To me, it's as simple as this: The system that determines strength of schedule has teams like Miami of Ohio ranked way up there because of the FBS BS.
To me, it's way simpler than that. Teams who don't play ranked teams shouldn't be ranked high in regard to strength of schedule and teams that face top 25 teams have harder schedules. Makes sense, right?
Well, I did some digging and I must admit, I was surprised at what I found. Here are some numbers for people from both sides to chew on. It's from Phil Steele's College Football Preview.
Let's go by the last four seasons:
In 2005, UF played six teams in the top 25 and two teams in the top five.
In 2005, USC also played five top 25 teams and one top-five team.
In 2006, UF played four teams in the top 25 and two in the top 10.
In 2006, USC also played four teams in the top 25 and one in the top 10.
In 2007, UF played four teams in the top 25, one in the top 10, and the No. 1 team in the land.
In 2007, USC played four teams in the top 25 and two in the top 10.
In 2008, UF played six teams in the top 25, one in the top 10, one in the top five, and two No. 1-ranked teams.
In 2008, USC played three ranked teams, one of which from the top five.
All in all, in the last four years, UF has played 25 top-25 teams. They've played four top-10 teams, three top-five teams, and three different teams who were ranked No. 1 at the time of play.
USC played a total of 16 teams in the top 25. They played three teams in the top 10 and two teams who cracked the top five. Both were ranked No. 5.
Side by Side
Top-25 ranked teams: UF 25, USC 16.
Top-10 teams: UF 4, USC 3.
Top-Five teams: UF 3, USC 2.
The No. 1 ranked team in the land: UF 3, USC 0.
So, UF played nine more teams in the top 25 in the last four seasons, and one more team ranked in the top 10 than USC. UF played one more team in the top five than USC, and UF played the No. 1 team in the land three times—USC: zero.
You know, all in all, I knew we played a far tougher schedule than USC, but I didn't know that USC played as many teams as they did. I was surprised. I must admit I have been selling USC a little bit short. Again, to me, this speaks volumes.
USC doesn't have the cake walk we seem to think they have. And again, these four years are a big turnaround compared to the previous four years for USC in the Pac-10. At that time, USC was the only ranked team in the Pac-10.
With that being said, I'll say this: Shut the hell up, Pac-10 fans. The SEC is still the premier conference in college football. Just ask ESPN, "The Worldwide Leader in Sports."
The Pac-10 has taken some steps in the right direction. I mean, it's no longer the Pac-1. You now have a couple other ranked teams.
However, half of your conference's teams had losing records last season.
There's a reason people want to jump off the side of their home team stadiums when we lose games down here in the South. It's because football is life down here.
There's a reason almost 40 percent of the top 150 high school football players come to the SEC. There's a reason we have the loudest, biggest stadiums on Earth. There's a reason we have been selling out games for decades.
That reason is the SEC is the best and will be the best for some time.