Reasons Why the SEC Is Not the Most Dominant Conference

Steven ResnickSenior Writer IDecember 17, 2009

As I continue reading articles stating just how great the SEC is, I can only laugh at the notion considering how painfully obvious it is that the SEC is not the toughest conference in college football.

One of the most ridiculous assertions that I read was the fact that three-fifths of NFL players come from the SEC conference. I don't think many SEC fans actually believe that, but still it was stated.

By the way, the SEC does have more players in the NFL on a NFL roster, but the Pac-10 has more players making an impact as well as more former players in the NFL Hall of Fame.

First of all, the out-of-conference scheduling for the SEC is an absolute joke. The conference plays four non-conference games a year. Here's a look at the out-of-conference teams that the SEC played in 2009.



  • North Texas 2-10
  • FIU 3-9
  • Chattanooga 6-5
  • Virginia Tech 9-3 (currently ranked No. 12)

These teams' combined record was 20-27, and the Crimson Tide went 4-0 in its non-conference schedule.



  • Missouri State 6-5
  • Texas A&M 6-6
  • Eastern Michigan 0-12
  • Troy 9-3

These teams' combined record was 21-26, and the Razorbacks went 4-0 in its non-conference schedule.



  • Louisiana Tech 4-8
  • West Virginia 9-3 (currently ranked No. 18)
  • Ball State 2-10
  • Furman 6-5

These teams' record was 21-26. Again another SEC team that went 4-0 in their out-of-conference schedule.



  • Charleston Southern 6-5
  • Troy 9-3
  • FIU 3-9
  • Florida State 6-6

Florida's opponents' combined record was 24-23—finally teams that combined for a winning record.  Another 4-0 record for an SEC team in non-conference games.



  • Oklahoma State 9-3 (currently ranked No. 21)
  • Arizona State 4-8
  • Tennessee Tech 6-5
  • Georgia Tech 11-2 (currently ranked No. 9)

Georgia by far has played the toughest non-conference schedule of any SEC team.  Combined record for the four teams was 30-18 with a combined winning percentage of well over .500.

The non-conference record for Georgia was 3-1 with the only loss being to Oklahoma State, which at the time was ranked No. 9 in the country.



  • Miami (OH) 1-11
  • Louisville 4-8
  • Louisiana-Monroe 6-6
  • Eastern Kentucky 5-6

Kentucky went 4-0 in their out-of-conference schedule. In total, the record for the four teams was 16-31.



  • Washington 5-7
  • Louisiana-Lafayette 6-6
  • Tulane 3-9
  • Louisiana Tech 4-8

In total, the record for these opponents was 18-27. Another 4-0 record for the SEC.



  • Memphis 2-10
  • Southeastern Louisiana 6-5
  • UAB 5-7
  • Northern Arizona 5-6

Again another 4-0 result. Combined record was 18-28.


Mississippi State

  • Jackson State 3-7
  • Middle Tennessee 9-3
  • Georgia Tech 11-2 (Currently ranked No. 9)
  • Houston 10-3

In total, the Bulldogs non-conference opponents went 33-15, but their schedule is not as impressive as what Georgia played with a 3-1 record in their out-of-conference schedule.


South Carolina

  • North Carolina State 5-7
  • Florida Atlantic 5-7
  • South Carolina State 10-2
  • Clemson 8-5

The combined record for South Carolina's non-conference schedule was 28-21, and like many of the other SEC teams, they had a 4-0 out-of-conference record.



  • Western Kentucky 0-12
  • UCLA 6-6
  • Ohio 9-4
  • Memphis 2-10

Combined record for the teams was 17-32. Tennessee went 3-1 in their non-conference schedule.



  • Western Carolina 2-9
  • Rice 2-10
  • Army  5-7
  • Georgia Tech 11-2 (currently ranked No. 9)

Vanderbilt was the only team in the SEC not to go 3-1 or 4-0 in their out-of-conference schedule. The combined record of the opponents was 20-28.

Overall the combined record (excluding the common opponent for some of the SEC schools) of the non-conference teams was 231-285.

So really is it that surprising that the SEC went 43-7 against these opponents? The answer is no, especially after looking at the majority of the teams that the SEC played were FCS schools.

Now let's look at the conference records of each school. Florida and Alabama went undefeated at 8-0; LSU went 5-3; Tennessee, Georgia, and Mississippi went 4-4. South Carolina, Kentucky, Arkansas, Auburn, and Mississippi State went 3-5, and Vanderbilt went 0-8.

As you can clearly see, the most common record in the conference was a losing record of 3-5. That doesn't sound like the SEC has to be tough considering a majority of the teams just needed to win all of their non-conference games against inferior opponents to make a bowl game.

Now let's look at the combined record of each conference. The SEC went 91-55, which is impressive to say the least when you look at a total record, but it has been established that the majority of the conference record came against inferior teams.

The Big Ten went 76-56 on the season with their combined record, and the Pac-10 went 66-54. But, let's take a look at the teams the Big Ten and the Pac-10 played this year before deciding how off the 91-55 record is.

Here's just some examples of the teams the Big Ten and Pac-10 played: No. 6 Boise State, No. 23 Utah, No. 10 Iowa, No.4 Cincinnati, No. 8 Ohio State, No. 13 LSU, No. 22 Arizona, No. 7 Oregon, and No. 4 Cincinnati.   

You can say the SEC has solid defenses, but let's not kid ourselves about the SEC offenses.

These are the rankings of total offense in the SEC: Florida (12), Arkansas (14), Auburn (21), Alabama (35), Mississippi (42), Tennessee (48), Mississippi State (66), Georgia (73), South Carolina (76), Kentucky (90), LSU (108), and Vanderbilt (109).

Rushing offensive rankings look like this: Mississippi State (9), Florida (10), Alabama (12), Auburn (13), Kentucky (21), Mississippi (33), Tennessee (43), Vanderbilt (50), Georgia (54), Arkansas (78), LSU (84), and South Carolina (91).

Passing ranks look like this: Arkansas (10), South Carolina (43), Tennessee (47), Mississippi (53), Auburn (56), Florida (58), Georgia (78), Alabama (84), LSU (99), Vanderbilt (111), Mississippi State (113), and Kentucky (114).

Is it any wonder why the SEC defense against the pass was so good? Only three teams in the conference were in the top 50 in passing.

You would expect the conference defense to rank well against the pass and the SEC did. Here are the rankings for pass defense: Florida (3), Alabama (7), Vanderbilt (9), Tennessee (10), South Carolina (12), Mississippi (16), Kentucky (18), Auburn (28), LSU (29), Georgia (33), Mississippi State (67), and Arkansas (104). 

That lack of passing results in 10 teams being in the top 50 against the pass. So, it's not a huge wonder why opposing teams chose to run against SEC teams.

Against the run, the SEC didn't do very well in the rankings: Alabama (2), Florida (13), Georgia (41), LSU (44), South Carolina (46), Mississippi (55), Tennessee (58), Mississippi State (63), Arkansas (68), Auburn (80), and Vanderbilt (105).

Looking at the rushing stats for individuals in the SEC, only four players rushed for over 1,000 yards including Mark Ingram, Anthony Dixon, Montario Hardesty, and Ben Tate. And only one receiver went for over 1,000 yards, which was Shay Hodge.

In terms of quarterbacks, five threw for over 20 touchdowns, including Ryan Mallett, Jonathan Crompton, Joe Cox, Chris Todd, and Jevan Snead.

Three quarterbacks threw for over 2,500 yards, including Mallet, Crompton, and Garcia.

Individually the SEC did better in terms of 1,000 yard-rushers to the Big Ten, which had two in John Clay and Evan Royster. And only receiver Keith Smith went over 1,000 yards. 

However, the Big Ten had four quarterbacks throw for over 2,500 yards including Joey Elliot, Ben Chappell, Mike Kafka, and Daryll Clark.

Looking at the Pac-10 there were five players that went over 1,000 yards, including Toby Gerhart, LaMichael James, Jacquizz Rodgers, Chris Polk, and Joe McKnight.

Like the other conference, only one receiver in the Pac-10 went over 1,000 yards, which was James Rodgers. Four quarterbacks went for over 2,500 passing yards and those were Sean Canfield, Jake Locker, Kevin Riley, and Andrew Luck.

So, looking at those individual numbers the Pac-10 has the most 1,000 yard rushers, tied for most quarterbacks with over 2,500 yards, and tied with 1,000-yard receivers.

Now looking further, the SEC right now has three teams ranked in Alabama, Florida, and LSU. The Big Ten has four ranked including Ohio State, Iowa, Penn State, and Wisconsin. The Pac-10 also has four with Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, and Arizona. 

Keep trying to come up with more facts about why the SEC is the most dominant conference in college football, but no matter which way you look at it, the SEC just isn't that dominate.

What would you really expect from any of the major conferences when pretty much all four non-conference games came against four inferior opponents?

Then there's the notion that last year Florida was the best team in the country, which is just as outrageous as trying to say the SEC is the most dominant conference in the country.

USC was, and no, not the University of South Carolina. Total defense for USC No. 2 in the nation, No. 1 against the pass, and No. 5 against the run. Not too mention there's an even more absurd notion that Tim Tebow would have run through the Trojans defense.

Well, that's not even much of an argument. Against the No. 2 ranked rushing offense in the country Oregon another Pac-10 the Trojans held the Ducks to 38 carries and 63 yards with a touchdown and an average yard per carry of 1.66 and the seventh rank offense in the nation to a total of 239 yards.

Now what about Oklahoma who was the team actually in the National Championship game against Florida? The team was 68th in total defense, 99th against the pass, and 20th against the run. 

Which team's defense was better?

In terms of total offense USC ranked No. 11 in the country which by the way is ahead of Florida at No. 15, USC ranked 22nd in passing, and 22nd in the run.

Oklahoma ranked third in total offense, third in passing offense, and 20th in rushing offense.

Going further Florida had three players drafted No. 22, 124, and 153. Compare that to USC with 11 players drafted No. 5, 15, 26, 38, 56, 87, 104, 117, 172, 183, and 189.

Which is better 11 players drafted or only three players drafted?