The SEC: The Example of Bias in College Football

Tom McLeanCorrespondent IOctober 28, 2009

STARKVILLE, MS - OCTOBER 24:  Head coach Urban Meyer of the University of Florida Gators, leads the team onto the field against the Mississippi State Bulldogs, at Davis Wade Stadium on  October 24, 2009 in Starkville, Mississippi  (Photo by Rick Dole/Getty Images)
Rick Dole/Getty Images

OK, I have officially had it.

Any kind of doubt that I had in my mind prior to this weekend is washed away by the rising tides of rationality and common sense. The SEC is completely overrated, over-hyped, and over-appreciated. All of that has led to an underrating for the other conferences that actually have a more impressive melting pot of quality teams.

The absolute favoritism by officials for Florida aside, games in the SEC have been very competitive and usually have come down to the final minutes. If the SEC is as impressive as the sports media have made it seem, why isn't Mississippi State ranked after their valiant tussle with the Gators?

I'll take a look at that later, but first let's assess the sports media bias towards the SEC.

In the Oct. 19 issue of Sports Illustrated, John Ed Bradley showed his love for the SEC and his value placed on the football teams within it. On the cover of the issue, the teaser says of the SEC, "The Nation's Toughest Conference".

Bradley, throughout most of his article, talks of the "Bengal Belles" and the fans' dedication to the teams. Perhaps the most interesting part is when Bradley talks about the boosters at LSU and their "knowledge" of the other BCS conferences.

"And the SEC is the best conference around. The Pac-10? Isn't that the convenience store out on Highland Road?" he says in his article. I'm sure that's what Alabama thought of the Mountain West when the Crimson Tide dropped like flies in the Fiesta Bowl this past January.

Another rather shocking quote came from Mississippi Head Coach Houston Nutt: "I watch all the other conferences all the time, and I think, boy, I'd like to play them."

Maybe that's true; maybe he's lost his mind. I don't know, but if you ask me, making that kind of a judgement after playing Southeastern Louisiana and Memphis might be a tad-bit deceiving.

If Nutt and his rebel schedulers brought in a reputable non-conference opponent, he might be able to make a believable statement about the Big-10, the ACC, or the Pac-10. Anyone that honestly wants to take on USC's running back core or Terrelle Pryor has to be incredibly unaware.

But I don't blame Nutt at all. I mean, if Mike Riley had writers like Bradley come to him with glowing language about his conference, I bet he'd say roughly the same thing. Especially considering his squad held tough with a national-caliber, non-conference opponent in Cincinnati. But something tells me Riley would actually know what he was talking about.

Now, I'm not saying that Oregon State losing close games to ranked teams makes the Pac-10 the best conference in America (even though there are numbers supporting that claim). I'm simply saying that the media has been so quick to label the SEC the toughest and best conference in America—when the barometers are Memphis, the Citadel, Florida International, and North Texas.

I think that the SEC is certainly in the top three of the most difficult conferences. The Big-10 and the Pac-10 have shown their strengths in non-conference action.

UCLA went to the SEC and showed the Vols what Pac-10 football is about. I'm not saying that UCLA is better than the entire SEC, but it is something to consider that UCLA beat an SEC team that made the Gators sweat out their game.

The good news is, we have a good month and a half till we can really judge each conference. The SEC can certainly prove me wrong, at least if the pundits are right. Bottom line: The SEC is the most over-appreciated conference in America.

Amidst all the prime-time games and conveniently-timed games, the conference of recent BCS National Champions is getting the biggest bias in rankings of all other conferences. I guess we'll keep watching games and hope that the SEC is really earning their rankings and making the best of some horrible officiating.