College Football 2011: 10 Things the SEC Isn't the Best At
With Auburn's recent BCS National Championship victory, the Southeastern Conference now owns the last five BCS national titles.
From Florida's demolishing of Ohio State, to the career of Tim Tebow, to Cam Newton's triumphant cap on a story book season, no conference has been more of a media darling when it comes to college football.
This has many college football fans north of the Mason-Dixon line and west of the Mississippi River upset.
Most of the country is sick and tired of the SEC being crowned king so likely. Some even claim that other BCS caliber teams in separate conferences have missed out on number one rankings because of the national media's bias towards SEC teams.
SEC fans have convinced themselves there is nothing greater than their brand of football.
But, are they the best at everything?
As a lifelong Georgia Bulldogs fan, I'm coming from the forbidden lands to clean some misconceptions up.
There are plenty of areas where other conferences triumph, and I'm ready to present them to you.
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Here's an area Big Ten and Big 12 fans love to bring up, and rightfully so.
In this slide's photo you have the Big 12's top team in Texas taking on the Big Ten's top team in Ohio State.
These type of match ups are not only good opportunities for television, but they are also considered key opportunities for BCS bidding teams to gauge themselves against top opponents.
In the past decade, SEC schools have claimed their in-conference schedules are too tough to schedule high risk out of conference games.
Other conference's respective teams have usually jumped on the opportunity to play these type of games and take a risk towards either becoming an immediate championship favorite, or falling off the face of college football for losing.
SEC schools traditionally do not venture far from home to play out of conference games. They are criticized for hosting too many FCS schools at home and taking short road trips to second tier locations near home.
For instance, Georgia recently cancelled a future series with Oregon and replaced it with a game versus North Carolina. Sure, Tennessee has been to the west coast a few times, and LSU and Georgia have made recent road trips to Pac-10 schools, but many think teams like Florida and Alabama are overdue for scheduling a "National Championship" type regular season game, similar to the games we have seen between Ohio State and Texas.
Playing in the Elements
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SEC schools usually have it easy when it comes to weather.
With the benefit of a kick off game in the Georgia Dome, home games under the sun belt sky, and championship game and bowl game locations that are rarely outdoors, SEC teams spend entire seasons without having to face the elements that make football such a great sport.
With the prime of the football season hitting winter weather for most schools, Big Ten, Big East, MWC, and Pac-10 schools often have to endure unbearable weather conditions for games.
When was the last time an SEC school had to play a meaningful game in the snow?
Some Big Ten schools have to play pivotal games in sub-zero temperatures. As a college student athlete, the thought of having to get smacked around on a frozen field with a ball as hard as a rock is terrifying.
But it's something the likes of Alabama, Florida, and LSU never have to endure.
The elements are a major part of what makes football great. Football does not exist without the elements.
Wait, technically it does down south, but it's just not the same.
One of the things that makes the Big Ten so great is the endless amount of trophy games.
All of the fun stories behind the trophies, packed full of legendary tales of robbery, pranks, and weird bets, make up for an enhancing element that separates college football from other sports.
Yet, there is only one true trophy game played in the SEC, which is between Arkansas and LSU.
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The SEC is so steeped in it's own tradition that it might be missing out on some of the awesome novelties of college sports.
In no other sport is aesthetics more of a main focus. College football uniforms can be just as much of a discussion topic as NFL mock drafts.
Oregon has made itself famous for going weeks without wearing the same uniform twice. Many schools, usually out west, or in smaller conferences, do plenty of experimenting with innovative uniform designs.
Oregon gets away with it. Texas Tech gets away with it. Miami, Virginia Tech, and even a team in the SEC heartland—Georgia Tech—gets away with it.
Georgia, Florida, and LSU have recently tried to experiment with uniform changes.
The fans nearly showed up at the athletic department's doors with pitchforks and torches.
Most big name schools in college football wear traditional uniforms. But, no other conference focuses on that more than the SEC. And many fans like to claim uniform changes curse the team (i.e. Florida, Georgia).
But, look at Oregon. Did their 100 plus uniform combinations keep them from playing in the national championship?
Nope. Sometimes tradition just isn't as fun.
Keeping Campus Clean
No, this photo is not one of a third world country.
I present to you Athens, GA.
More specifically, this is a photo taken of the University of Georgia campus following a football game.
When Georgia started losing, fans started becoming less enthusiastic, therefore their motivation to pick up their trash after games, well, dwindled.
Nay, disappeared. Georgia began to be heavily criticized for these happenings, and only fueled the perception that Georgia fans are nothing more than white trash.
Auburn (yes, I know this is a tradition) throws toilet paper everywhere after they win games. Who thought that was a good idea? I'd hate to have to clean that up.
I've experienced game days on campus' such as Georgia Tech and Clemson where the tailgating clean up was pristine.
I'm sure many other schools outside of the SEC have a sense of landscaping pride.
Yes, I realize corn hole and beer are key components to a perfect college football experience.
But, the SEC is notorious for taking it too far.
Is it nice to down a few drinks to liven up for a football game? Sure. In fact, having a little buzz can go a long way when it comes to fully embracing the events taking place. It definitely improves the decibel level in the stands when alcohol is involved.
However, stumbling to your seat and complaining all night because you can't see the players on the field is a different story.
And, I've witnessed that. I did witness that.
At the Georgia vs. UL-Lafayette game to open the season, at twelve o'clock in the afternoon.
There is no reason for any of that.
The SEC dress code is, well, different.
Coming to the game means throwing on some cargo shorts or embroidered pants, dress shirts, ties, sun glasses with bands, and visors.
For females it means dresses and high heels.
The frat party literally oozes out of the frat house and into the stadium on game day. Where's the simple t-shirts?
I, personally, admire schools like Oregon, as well as many others who dress in school colored t-shirts to the student section.
It gives the student section a more engaging persona. When I see fans all dressed up, it makes me think the game is more about their own presence and socialite abilities as opposed to the game at hand.
When I saw 20,000 Oregon Students all in bright green and yellow t-shirts, it was refreshing.
Do SEC fans really care about the games? Yes. But, do they present the unity of a fan base like other schools do?
Not at the same level.
One of my favorite parts of college football is the University of Wisconsin student section.
They are mainly known for doing "Jump Around", where they all dance to the song between the third and fourth quarter, nearly causing an earthquake.
However, nothing blew me away more than a stunt they pulled against Ohio State this season. One of the play-making tailbacks on the team's last name is White.
So, what do the fans do? Every time White was handed the football each member of the student section held a white piece of paper (or towel, couldn't tell) over their head.
So, when White got the ball, the student section would instantly turn white.
Another team that impresses me is Texas A&M, who holds "yell practice" to make sure the student body, or 12th man, is in sync and ready to make noise during the game.
Things like this are reasons why some smaller stadiums are known for being louder than some SEC schools' stadiums.
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Yes, the SEC has some of the best coaches in the country.
But, with this slide title, I am claiming they don't have the best coaching.
That's because I'm pretty positive the school in Boise, Idaho does.
Chris Peterson, Boise State's head coach, and his staff have put together some of the most fundamentally impressive teams I've ever seen.
What Boise State cannot do with talent, they do with sheer expertise in the coaching and execution areas.
That was pretty evident when they needed a handful of gadget plays to come back against Oklahoma to win the Fiesta Bowl.
How many teams go to their bag of tricks in pivotal situations in ball games?
Not many. Maybe the mad hatter has gotten away with it a few times, but Boise State has made a trademark of it.
Their special teams and exterior blocking are what really impress me the most.
Staying Out of Trouble
If you need to look for a conference full of embarrassing player mishaps, look no further than the SEC.
Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina are more recent examples, but the SEC has always seemed to have more disciplinary problems than the rest of the conferences.
Many claim it's because most of the schools are located in party-hot-spots, which means there are more authoritative forces in concentrated areas and therefore players are more likely to get caught for doing something they shouldn't.
That's at least the theory Georgia fans have had since the arrest-extravaganza began a few years back. Other schools in party spots, like FSU and Miami, have experienced this as well, although they are not in the SEC.
But there are plenty of big time football programs who do a good job at avoiding these type of distractions. They just aren't in the SEC.