SEC Dominance Theory and Media Poll Collusion

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SEC fans boast the dominance of their college football conference over all others, something that fans of other conference’s programs often despise.   As a result, those of us in the latter are often called “haters.”  It is difficult to dispute that term, because we do, in fact, HATE that SEC fans are so obnoxious about this perception of dominance.  There are two reasons why so many of us hate this.

First, its because the SEC is the ONLY conference with schools whose fans get more excited for the wins of the conference than the wins of their own program!  So even traditionally pathetic teams like Kentucky, despite finishing a season with a losing record that included a loss at home to Western Kentucky, ends the season jumping up and down chanting “S-E-C…  S-E-C!”  as if the year was a roaring success.  Pathetic really is the only word that comes to mind when we see this.  And it’s just as pathetic  when a national champion like Alabama, who has just had an amazing year and destroys Notre Dame to repeat as national champion, has a fan base that erupts with “S-E-C… S-E-C!” in the stands.  “Conference Pride,” they call it.  I call it lunacy.  Did you graduate from Southeastern Conference University?  Can you not revel in the fact that your team has been crowned the best in the nation rather than continuing to perpetuate this ridiculous notion that your success had anything to do with your conference???

Sure, SEC executives are ecstatic that SEC teams have won the national championship for 7 years in a row.  And they should be.  But not the fans of the losing schools.  If you weren’t a member of any of the four teams who actually did win the NC during any of those years, what the hell are you celebrating?  Pride that you got your teeth knocked down your throat by the national champs during the regular season?  I’m pretty sure I don’t remember hearing “Big 12… Big 12!” chants a few years back when Oklahoma won.  Certainly never saw Cal fans celebrating the USC National Championship.  When FSU dominated the ACC for 10+ years and won two national titles in that span, playing for two others, I don’t remember Clemson waving ACC banners in their honor.  And I’m fairly certain that 10 years ago, when Ohio State defeated Miami in an epic national championship showdown, Michigan fans weren’t leaping into each others arms in a moment of Big Ten pride.  The idiocy shown by fans of SEC programs have allowed the SEC to be in a league of its own that has little to do with dominance and more to do with narcissistic isolationism.

The second reason SEC fan arrogance has elicited so much hatred has to do with the self-fulfilling prophecy that has evolved in that so-called dominance.  The theory that the SEC is the most dominant conference is not just based on their national championships but supposedly it is also about how the conference as a whole matches up head to head against opponents of other BCS conferences.  However this too is a deception, as Chuck Thompson pointed out in his 2012 article on this issue: [1]

Is the SEC really the best conference in college football “top to bottom,” as it’s so often described? And if it is, why since the start of the BCS era in 1998 does the conference have overall losing records against the Pac-12 (11-12) and Big East (19-23) and superior but not dominating records against other major conferences? Might the nationwide perception of SEC superiority simply be part of a well-constructed ESPN business plan meant to protect and enhance the network’s $2.25 billion partnership with the SEC?

…Judging by inter-conference records — that is to say actual games as opposed to media guesswork and bestowed rankings — the SEC plays other BCS conferences about equally. Witness the record since the start of the BCS era in 1998:

SEC vs. PAC-12 regular season: 10-12

SEC vs. PAC-12 bowl games: 1-0

SEC vs. Big 12 regular season: 6-10

SEC vs. Big 12 bowl games: 21-8

SEC vs. ACC regular season: 42-36

SEC vs. ACC bowl games: 16-9

SEC vs. Big 10 regular season: 7-4

SEC vs. Big 10 bowl games: 19-19

SEC vs. Big East regular season: 16-15

SEC vs. Big East bowl game: 3-8

 

So if all of this is true, how can the SEC manage to keep putting one and sometimes somehow even TWO teams in the national championship game?  This is where the NCAA and its allowance of the weighting of preseason polls comes into play.  Clearly, after years of SEC “proclaimed” dominance, media and even coaches begin to buy  into the hype.  Suddenly, we have up to half of the preseason top 10 teams as SEC teams… simply because we have been told they are better because they have harder schedules.  But their schedules are only harder because they all play each other.  And since the polls rank them all too high to begin with, of COURSE it looks like they all have such hard schedules!  Chuck points this out as well in his article from last year:

Here’s how the self-fulfilling BCS prophecy breaks down in the SEC’s favor over the course of a season.The preseason top twenty-five is stocked with the usual high-profile teams from across the country — teams, not coincidentally, already scheduled for heavy broadcast exposure. Thanks to its gaudy TV contracts, many of these ranked teams come from the SEC.

Once the season is underway, if a highly ranked SEC team beats another highly ranked SEC team, the winner rises higher in the polls than it might normally, based on the fact that it’s just beaten a “top-tier” team from the country’s “elite” conference. By the same coin, the losing SEC team in this scenario doesn’t drop as far as it might otherwise, since, after all, it has lost to a presumably powerful “top-tier” team from the country’s “elite” conference.

Chuck was very correct.  When the 2012 Preseason polls were released, FIVE TEAMS were preseason Top 10 with TWO OF THE TOP THREE from the SEC in BOTH major polls!  This included an LSU team that ultimately would finish the season 10-3 (losing their bowl game to an ACC also-ran) and an Arkansas team that finished the year with a LOSING record at 4-8!  Of course, thanks to Alabama’s high early ranking, their home loss to Texas A&M (a transplant from the Big 12 Conference in their FIRST SEC year by the way) did not drop them very far in the rankings.  And Oregon, who also ended the year with only one loss but was started at #5 before the season lower than Alabama, could not overtake Alabama in the polls and was shut out of an opportunity to play for the national title last year.  Hard to say if Oregon belonged more than Alabama, but it is clear that the deck was stacked to begin with against any one loss team who was not in the SEC very early on.

2012 was not the only year that the SEC-media poll ranking collusion propelled an SEC team ahead of other deserving teams.  In 2011, one of the most egregious injustices occurred when Alabama and LSU were selected to play a rematch (of one of the most boring regular season games in history I might add) for the national championship.  Alabama was chosen ahead of Oklahoma State, another one loss team who actually had lost a double overtime game that was played with emotional overtones following a tragic accident that had just occurred killing coaching members of their women’s basketball team.  Many could argue that Oklahoma State was the best team in the nation in 2011, and was never given the chance to prove it.  Because they began the season preseason #8, while two teams from the SEC were in the Top 4 again of the Preseason poll that year.

The crooked BCS scenario which has allowed this poll collusion to propel multiple SEC teams into the national title game should not come as a shock to many.  After all…

Consider again that the BCS was created by then-SEC commissioner Roy Kramer, also known as the “godfather of the BCS,” a man who “attached plastic explosives to college football” and blew it up, according to an ESPN web post. ESPN, of course, is the commercial entity that dominates the college football landscape, and which has a near incalculable economic interest in promoting the nationwide perception of the SEC’s elite status.[2]

So one might want to believe that perhaps the new 4 team playoff will remedy this problem.  Well, you might want to think again.  The SEC was a little too involved with the 4 team playoff arrangement negotiations and were able to ensure that , should 2, 3 or even 4 SEC teams end the year in the top 4, that they could all get to go to the National Title playoff. [3]

Which means we can expect to continue to see multiple SEC teams in the Top 10 preseason from now on, because ESPN and the NCAA must be sure to protect their financial investments.

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2 thoughts on “SEC Dominance Theory and Media Poll Collusion

  1. Pingback: How Conference Rankings, the BCS and SEC Media Bias Destroyed College Football and Created SEC EXPOSED! | SEC Exposed

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