THE BIRTH (AND PURPOSE) OF SEC EXPOSED
Much of our time on this site the past 27 months has been spent exposing to the world how overrated the SEC conference is. We feel that our mission has been a success. Our venture began actually almost 4 years ago after watching the BCS place Alabama and LSU in a national title game while pretending that, because the media said football was just better in the SEC, no other conference’s champion was worthy to challenge that notion in a head to head matchup. At that time 7 college football fans from different team affiliations all across the U.S. came together on an internet chat board to air their disdain. Hence “SEC EXPOSED” was born. The 7 of us represented not just different teams, but a prevailing feeling among college football fans all across our country who were NOT in SEC Country. Ours was a feeling of disgust. Disgust that the media was fawning over a conference that was clearly overrated but riding on the laurels of a small handful of strong football programs, mainly Alabama who was largely rejuvenated by Nick Saban. Disgust that the media was contributing to the glorification of this atrocity. And above all disgust that the NCAA was not only allowing this to continue, but was condoning it by attacking successful non-SEC programs and going soft on all SEC programs as they raked in the billions of dollars in profit over the SEC superiority farce soap opera that had been created. When the 7 of us decided to create “SEC EXPOSED”, we chose anonymity because we knew once our movement caught on, those powers who had pushed the SEC to the top (as well as the knuckle-dragging fanbase of keyboard tough guys and tree killing psychos) would have individuals to come after. Our movement is not one created for personal gain. It is not one created to generate “clicks” for our website (note that we use no sponsors and peddle no products). Our movement, rather, was meant to upset the “established order” created by the SEC Shill Media and, mainly, to create awareness. Awareness of a wrong that has occurred in a sport that 7 fans (and millions more out there) love… awareness of a trend that had destroyed the storied tradition of college football.
Yes, we do believe our movement was a success. Not because we have had tens of millions of hits on our website. Not because now every media troll and SEC chanter on social media knows who we are and seeks us out to brag when an SEC team wins a big game. But rather because we are now no longer the only site finally admitting the truth that so many in the media have been purposefully hiding… that the SEC is overrated, may have always been overrated, and is NOT the King of College Football that so many sheeple have been led to believe. Two years ago we were the only site telling the story. The “tin foil hat” site we were called, akin to Roswell stories and JFK conspiracies. However now the whole nation is finally realizing we were right all along. And one by one media experts are starting to open their eyes and report the truth: the truth that there are great teams all OVER college football and nothing makes the SEC better than any of them.
This all brings us to ask ourselves… how did we let this conference supremacy lie get spoon fed to us to start with? And more importantly, why were so many college football fans and self-proclaimed sports “experts” going along with it for so long? Much of the SEC superiority myth was predicated on 7 consecutive SEC teams winning the BCS title (which involved four SEC teams between 2006-2012), however a look back at those matchups reveal that it is arguable that the two best teams in the nation weren’t even playing in at least 4 of those 7 matchups. Just think, had the BCS been in place LAST season, we would have seen Alabama play Florida State for the national title! And neither of those teams ultimately even got past the CFP Semifinal round! Last season’s playoff results exposed much of the flaw that led to mismatches and poor pairings in BCS bowls during the SEC “reign” over college football. But when you take into consideration how those mismatches were perpetuated in the first place, it all begins to become clearer what led to myth from the start… Conference Ranking!
CONFERENCE RATING, THE SAGARIN SYSTEM, AND THE BIRTH OF THE MYTH
It is hard to pinpoint exactly when and where the myth that the SEC was the greatest collection of college football teams began. But we may be able to pinpoint at what point the media began to assign faux importance to the rating of conferences. Jeff Sagarin released his widely media-accepted “Conference Rating” following the 1998 season, according to his archives (http://www.usatoday.com/sports/ncaaf/sagarin/1998/conference/). Not coincidentally, that was also the first year of the BCS, a system that depended in part on Sagarin’s computer for its rankings. It would appear at that time that there was no “SEC bias” at play. The SEC, according to Sagarin’s system, was considered the third best conference behind the Big 12 and Big Ten in 1998. However, none of us can remember hearing proclamations from Big 12 fans back then of conference superiority. Mainly because nobody really paid attention to these conference ratings at that time to begin with. Nonetheless, this conference rating system, a concept born from the new BCS era itself, may have begun the trend that ultimately would kill college football as we knew it.
Sagarin’s metric to determine the “best conferences” was convoluted from the start. To begin with, it was based on schedule strength determinations which calculated home and away game factors taking into consideration rankings of teams that were played. The only problem, the system depended on poll rankings that were very subjective. Human voters, by nature, have built in biases. It isn’t a criticism, it’s a fact. We all have some element of bias, whether we want to admit it or not. Computers don’t have bias, but computers can only make calculations based on the metrics that are fed into them. And human bias was most definitely fed into them.
As the BCS years waned on, Sagarin was not the only entity rating conferences, or course. There were others. In fact, eventually every college football preseason publication began doing it. Comparisons of the conferences in their teams’ head to head out of conference battles were some of the key criteria being used in these ratings. However this was all very deceiving. Conferences were being considered “better” when a small handful of their best teams were winning the highest proportion of out of conference games. The matchups often times were not even. Especially when it came to bowl pairings. The BCS model seemed to shelter the SEC from playing the top competition in the toughest conferences during the bowl seasons. Much of this can be blamed on the Big Ten- PAC-10 Bowl arrangements that were kept in place, shielding the SEC from having to play the best the Big Ten or PAC-10 had to offer. While the SEC built up years of OOC wins during the regular season, mostly against ACC and mid-tier or Division I-AA (FCS) opponents, they were able to build up their claims of superiority by winning bowl games that were notable mismatches in which the SEC team was the higher ranked team nearly every time. The few exceptions to that rule were often when the SEC played “up” to ACC competition in these bowls. Since the ACC through the BCS years was the usually conference with the highest percentage of the worst teams of the Power 5, these bowl pairings often enabled the SEC to pad their annual bowl stats quite nicely, further contributing to the growing narrative. However one year an SEC team DID pull a significant upset in the post-season and it may have been a catalyst that would bring about the ratings system corruption from that moment forward… the year was 2006.
Up until 2006, Sagarin’s system appeared to be unaffected by the uneven bowl pairings and the creampuff out of conference win percentage of SEC teams. That all changed in the 2006 BCS Championship Game, when a 10-point underdog Florida Gator team was able to upset the top ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in a landslide 41-14 victory. That UF team, of course, was coached by Urban Meyer. At that time, nobody yet realized that Meyer would become one of the most successful and influential coaches in all of college football. Unfortunately, what Florida’s large margin of victory did was further fuel a growing false awareness among other SEC members, their fans and the sports media that the SEC was the “best conference” in the nation. Suddenly that season, Sagarin, who had just the year before considered the SEC to be the 5th best conference in the land, suddenly rated the SEC as THE best conference. The myth was born.
Truth be told, that 2006 UF team really did look like the best team in the country much of that season. Urban Meyer had taken under-achieving recruits brought in by the previous coach (Ron Zook) and turned that team, and his own recruits in the subsequent team to follow, into football giants. However somehow along the way Florida’s success was being attributed to its’ play in a “dominant conference.” This new notion was reinforced by Sagarin’s skewed rating system and a media still drunk off the UF upset of Ohio State in the previous championship game. Just as this was happening, the second catalyst arrived: Nick Saban. His hire by the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2007 following his very unsuccessful venture in the NFL may have been one of the most significant events in SEC Chanter Entitlement history. Despite his inability to succeed in the NFL, Saban proved to be a worthy college football guru. And as Urban Meyer completed his run of success with the Gators, Nick Saban recruited and developed Alabama into the national powerhouse that it has become today. (By the way, has anyone noticed how the Gators have been since Urban Meyer left? Right. Don’t expect to see those clowns relevant again anytime soon.)
The Sagarin ratings stopped being impartial following the 2006 season. From that point on, the media began touting the SEC as Football Kings and damned anyone who disagreed. And nearly every other publication followed suit, issuing “Conference Rankings” each season that would ultimately influence preseason football polls. And those preseason polls, of course, would in turn influence the narrative that has since dominated college football… that SEC teams are the best because they play the toughest schedules… and they play the toughest schedules because they have to beat a bunch of ranked conference teams… and they are all ranked because the SEC is the best. The circular logic is mind-numbing when you factor in the truth that SEC teams actually play the fewest number of out of conference Power 5 teams than any other Power 5 conference each season and continue to rest on the laurels of some conference superiority sports media fantasy that began in 2006!
SEC Chanters will try to throw stats at you of out of conference records of SEC teams against Power 5 conferences in the BCS era. (Although they often leave out the stat that the old dissolved Big East was dominating them, but that isn’t important since they don’t exist anymore we presume.) Well folks, you can’t compare apples to oranges. Seasons often began with one or two SEC giants knocking off well known football teams who were overranked to start their seasons and inevitably proved their mediocrity as the season wore on. Middle of the road SEC teams were beating teams that would ultimately finish in the lower tier of their conferences. And of course the SEC would get their annual beatdowns of ACC teams, a trend the SEC counted on to pad those stats (up until recent seasons at least). SEC teams would do all this for the most part without ever leaving SEC country! While major football powers travelled to other Power 5 stadiums all over the nation, nearly all SEC “away” games against Power 5 competition would occur at random “neutral” sites that just happened to be closer to their home than the opponent’s. Meanwhile the SEC programs padded their schedules with Sun Belt, Conference USA and FCS teams so heavily that only the dimmest of college football fans would miss the fact that as a whole, the SEC was playing far fewer Power 5 teams that anyone else in the nation. (https://secexposed.wordpress.com/2015/07/01/the-role-of-scheduling-in-the-great-sec-supremacy-caper/)
Are we discounting EVERY win for the SEC over Power 5 opponents? Absolutely not! But it must be understood that most of these wins were by a small handful of teams who happen to be respected traditional national powers in the football world. That small handful of successful teams do NOT make the SEC the “best conference.” It simply meant that the SEC had some of the best teams in the nation. As did the Big Ten. And the PAC-10/PAC-12. And the Big 12. And the ACC. But nobody would have known that. Because the sports media’s love affair with the SEC had begun.
DOMINOES OF COLLUSION FALL INTO PLACE
Once conference ratings, two game-changing coaches, and favorable matchups helped alter the media’s perception of the conference, all the dominoes for the greatest myth in college football history fell into place. Top notch recruits began to see the constant media lauding of the SEC and were easy prey for SEC coaches from the conference’s low tier teams who pitched the all famous “come play in the best conference in college football” gimmick. The NCAA seemingly stopped pursuing negative allegations against SEC teams, especially Alabama, whose coach Nick Saban was reportedly good friends with NCAA President Emmert. While the NCAA was receiving all time backlash for outrageous punishments of teams that didn’t fit the crimes, allegations and whistle blower stories of SEC team violations were running rampant on the internet with absolutely no NCAA attention whatsoever. (https://secexposed.wordpress.com/2014/04/24/dirty-pool-a-look-at-the-ncaas-recent-cozy-relationship-with-the-sec/) The media bias would finally be set in stone, however, when ESPN joined forces in 2008 with the SEC. And their latest deal in 2013, which included the SEC Network, was deemed the richest deal signed in college sports history (http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikeozanian/2013/05/31/deal-between-espn-and-sec-conference-likely-the-richest-ever/). At that point ESPN was prepared to cash in big off of the continued success of the SEC brand. The pieces were all in place as media members began the annual tradition of overranking SEC teams every preseason while ESPN lauded all the amazing aspects of the “best conference in college football” while refusing to report the rampant reports of possible NCAA violations and numerous player arrests coming from the SEC. (https://secexposed.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/sec-dominance-theory-and-media-poll-collusion/) Once the widely accepted “Worldwide Leader in Sports Entertainment” had fully endorsed the SEC (and since their financial success as a network was now tied into that conference, why wouldn’t they), the rest of the sports media sheeple followed suit. Because after all, why would ESPN try to deceive them? They are an impartial sports news entity. Right?
And the rest of course… is history.
IN THE END, THE BEAST MUST BE SLAYED TO SAVE COLLEGE FOOTBALL
In a perfect world, ESPN would become impartial and stop the conference collusion game before the Feds are onto them, preseason polls would be used for entertainment purposes only and would be erased and started from scratch each week until Week 7, conference “rating” would end since it realistically cannot be determined without true head to head round robin competition between every other conference anyway, and the nation could go back to rivalries that matter and rooting for TEAMS rather than rooting for an entire collection of loosely geographically-placed teams as if they were states united in a civil war. But this isn’t a perfect world. And the narrative will go on unless the entire college football world rises up to fight back. How do they slay the beast that has ruined our game? Perhaps conferences need to join forces and file class action lawsuits against ESPN and NCAA to force an end to the collusion. Perhaps schools need to refuse ESPN interviews and withdraw from ESPN-sponsored events. Perhaps top programs need to refuse to let College Gameday on their campuses. Perhaps the rest of the Power 5 needs to sue to end any existing deals they have with ESPN and bring their business to another entity like Fox Sports. These all sound like excellent options, but they are all very unlikely and somewhat unrealistic. Which leaves only one thing left. Just keep beating the SEC’s best until ESPN loses so much money that the bottom falls out on their little money-making scheme. Otherwise the rest of us will never get the game back that we love, or get to root as hard as we used to against those in-conference rivals who we love to hate!
Eric Striker from Oklahoma said it best last Saturday: F*CK THE SEC!
“Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It’s fair.” –Joker (The Dark Knight)