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SEC: Conference King Once Again

By Patrick Snow

It’s an argument that will never end-whose Conference is better? Fans will debate this topic vociferously every season, and the answer always tends to lie close to your address. I’m not sure that the Bowl games are the best way to evaluate league strength across college football, but it is basically all we have. Here’s my opinion on how the various conferences shook out after the postseason:

SEC (7-2) – This league is the gold standard for college football, and its performance in the bowls did nothing to tarnish that reputation. This conference gets tougher every season, and LSU proved that if you can survive the grind of the SEC, the BCS Title game is no problem. With National Championships won by LSU in ’07 and Florida in ’06, the SEC now has FIVE coaches who have won the whole thing. That total does not include highly regarded coaches Tommy Tuberville (undefeated season), Mark Richt, and Bobby Petrino. This conference will struggle to get a team to the Title game each season because of how tough league play has become, but if they do, look out.

Pac-10 (4-2) – The boys from the West coast fared pretty well in the postseason. USC is still the big dog of this conference, and it’s really not that close. Oregon and Cal have flirted with challenging the Trojans, but Pete Carroll’s coaching and recruiting have created a huge gap for the rest of the league to try and close.

Big 12 (5-3) – This conference held its own with Missouri and Kansas picking up big wins in the bowls. The Big 12 has been carried by Oklahoma and Texas for a while so the quality seasons from the Tigers and Jayhawks helped offset the fall of programs like Nebraska and Texas A&M. If the Huskers and Aggies can get back to prominence with their new coaches, this league will be a superpower once again.

Big East (3-2) – Obviously, West Virginia’s beating of Oklahoma was the conference’s big win in the postseason. This league was really hyped up before the season, but teams like Louisville and Rutgers did not live up to expectations. It will be interesting to see how the league responds to losing another top coach in Rich Rodriguez (Petrino last year). With Brian Kelly (Cincinnati) and Randy Edsall (UConn) being solid candidates for bigger jobs, the Big East may get an unwanted “stepping stone” reputation among coaches.

Big 10 (3-5) – Another meltdown by Ohio State in the Title game will continue to damage the reputation of this proud league. While Michigan did rally in Lloyd Carr’s last game, this league has a hard time shaking the fact that their top teams tend to lose and lose bad in BCS games against USC or the SEC. It seems that this conference is just not that strong from Team 4 to11, and consequently, the lack of competition hurts their teams when they take on big-time competition.

ACC (2-5) – This league fell flat on its face during the bowl season. There were many losses in games where the ACC team was probably more talented. With Florida State and Miami fading over the past few years, there are no great teams in this league anymore. There are some very solid programs-Virginia Tech, Boston College- but there isn’t that top dog to shoot for like the ‘Noles used to be. This league will stay where it is currently until somebody steps up to become that elite school.

Non-BCS – The WAC took a huge hit with Boise State and Hawaii both losing in the postseason. The MAC didn’t fare well either (0-3), while CUSA (2-4) got an impressive win with East Carolina going to Hawaii to beat Boise State. The big winner in the bowl season outside the BCS was the Mountain West Conference. They went 4-1 to capture the battle for “mid-major” supremacy.


* Can’t you just see a Georgia 17-point win over Ohio State in the National title game a year from now? Uggh.

* Don’t fall into the trap of thinking University of Georgia President Michael Adams is some enlightened executive all of a sudden because he now hates the BCS. He’s just a politician grandstanding in front of his fan base. Would he be screaming for an 8-team Playoff if UGA had been in the Championship Game? Doubt it. Additionally, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive should be livid with Adams’ “A-Rod like” timing. Way to steal some of LSU’s spotlight, Mr. Adams.

* While I really don’t think it matters where NFL players spend their off-weeks, I do hope Tony Romo is ready to play a solid Playoff game against New York. We’ll hear a lot more about his beach vacation with Jessica Simpson if the #1 seeded ‘Boys lose to the hated G-men. Dallas hasn’t a Playoff game since the 90’s so Cowboy fans are on edge more than ever, especially after last year’s heartbreaker in Seattle.

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