Our previous articles have pointed out the multiple manipulative ways that the SEC supremacy façade has been parlayed over the past decade. From numerous favorable overmatched bowl pairings during the BCS years to annual preseason rankings that stacked the deck full of overrated SEC teams to ESPN incessantly pumping up the conference throughout the season while passively dismissing numerous SEC player criminal arrests to the NCAA turning a blind eye to several credible reports of flagrant violations… the ingredients have blended quite well together to create a infantile chanting fanbase of obnoxious sheep and the subsequent creation of an intricately woven myth that football in the SEC was just simply better than everywhere else. However there has been yet another more subtle, although just as powerful, ingredient all along that has played a part in the creation of the SEC Supremacy fantasy and it continues to flourish into the upcoming 2015 season… the role of scheduling.
SEC chanters would like you to believe that SEC teams have the toughest schedules. Sadly they have no data to back that up. However WE have the data to debunk that myth. For starters, teams in the SEC play fewer out of conference games against Power 5 opponents than any of the other Power 5 teams.
So what makes the SEC schedules harder than any other conference if their teams play FEWER out of conference football powers? Is it because they play each other? That circular logic just isn’t going to fly anymore. Especially not after a 2014 football season in which the SEC East went 0-4 against the lowly ACC in the final week and the vaunted SEC West (whose teams ESPN pundits were campaigning to get 3 or more into the playoffs all the way up until the final week) went 2-5 in the Bowls!
Last season, Ole Miss and Mississippi State collectively beat Boise State, UL Lafayette, Memphis, Presbysterian, Southern Miss, UAB, South Alabama and UT Martin out of conference. Yet by mid-season, ESPN and the rest of the moronic sports media world was ready to portray these two overnight SEC powers as the best two teams in the nation. (Our blog was the ONLY site at the time reporting these two as overhyped frauds… feel free to go back to our October-November articles to see.) Because they beat Alabama and Auburn respectively early in the season, the ESPN hype machine was in full gear to make sure these teams got into the college football playoff come hell or high water. Well, it just so turned out that both hell and high water came. And Mississippi State lost by 15 to ACC’s Georgia Tech while Ole Miss got throttled by Big 12’s TCU to the tune of 42-3. So tell us again how good these teams were just because they could beat most of the rest of the SEC… I suppose that 48-0 win over Presbyterian should be enough for us, eh?
As damning as the above graphic is in displaying how few out of conference Power 5 teams the SEC plays as compared to the other conferences, even that stat doesn’t give justice to the whole picture. In fact, of the 11 out of conference P5 teams that the SEC will play this year, 7 of these are from the ACC. Earlier articles of ours from 2013 chronicled how the SEC historically has picked on the ACC (traditionally considered the weakest of the Power 5) to pad their out of conference stats. However in 2014 the ACC hit back and left an indelible black eye on the SEC that may take a while to fade away. Despite all that, it speaks volumes that the SEC once again manages to dodge the PAC 12, Big Ten and Big 12 so well in the regular season. Perhaps geographic issues play a part in that, but if your teams are rarely willing to travel up north or out west to beat other conferences’ football powerhouses, then you probably should stop claiming to be the best just because you know how to effectively whip SunBelt and Conference USA teams throughout the season.
One of our @SEC_Exposed Twitter followers pointed out another problem with the statistical graphic above that needs to be also taken into consideration. Both the Big 12 and PAC-12 play 9 game conference schedules. The other three Power 5 conferences play 8. This lessens the sample size of those Big 12 and PAC-12 out of conference opportunities from 4 to 3. However it also fails to give credit to the fact that teams in those conferences are, after all, playing MORE Power 5 opponents over all because they are playing one more conference game than the others. Taking this into account widens the above gap even more between the SEC and the rest of college football’s Power 5 in scheduling intensity:
Compounding the pathetic scheduling of the SEC is the fact that such a vast majority of their out of conference games come from Conference USA, Sun Belt and FCS. What’s more, so few of those games are played away from home. As a recent article by ElevenWarriors.com pointed out, most of these are also played the weekend before rivalry games creating the ever popular SEC tradition known as “ChickenShit Saturday”:
“The penultimate Saturday on the schedule is arguably the most stressful of the entire season: division titles hang in the balance, style point currency fluctuations are at their most volatile and every contender is ripe for an upset ahead of facing their designated arch-rivals.
Title contenders know this too well. That Saturday is dark, terrifying, full of spiders and littered with land mines. It’s virtually impossible to recover from a loss that late in the season.
Anyway, here are some of the schools SEC teams have scheduled for that Saturday since 2012: Samford, Chattanooga, Coastal Carolina, Western Carolina, Eastern Kentucky and South Alabama. Georgia Southern, Idaho, FAU, Charlotte and Citadel all twice. Charleston Southern three times…
Chickenshit Saturday is indefensible, and there isn’t a wanking motion theatrical enough to accommodate the circular logic of the conference strength argument because you can always schedule Samford in September. The best football player in Charleston Southern football history isn’t even good enough to get unexpectedly cut by Nick Saban in August to make room for a new recruit.
November schedules should contain conference opponents or designated rivals only. This improves the sport, enhances the most captivating month on the schedule and levels the playing field without any controversy.”
It’s fascinating that despite all the above facts, the media continues to keep its head buried firmly in the sandbox and insistent that the SEC plays the toughest schedules in all the land. Even some of the most respected gurus in the business like Phil Steele (who continues to boast 17 straight years of the “most accurate preseason football magazine”) appears to be totally duped. His most recent 2015 publication (much like his 2014 publication before it) has 3 SEC West teams in the Top 6 of “toughest schedules” in the nation. Which means he has totally bought into the notion that the SEC West is just that much better than anyone else, so playing each other makes their schedules the strongest. And their scheduling is strongest because, well, they are in each others’ schedules. Makes a lot of sense. Except the part where the SEC West went 2-5 against the rest of the Power 5 in the bowl games last season, giving this presumption no basis whatsoever. Meanwhile the PAC-12 went 5-2 against out-of-conference Power 5 teams in the bowls. 11-4 against out-of-conference Power 5 teams in the regular season. But that stat is actually irrelevant since the SEC as a whole is the best conference. Sure it is.
Hey media shills, save us some of that Bullshit Kool Aid you’re drinking so maybe we can all share it while watching those great games on SEC Network together during ChickenShit Saturday.