SEC, ACC are deepest. But who has best conference?

We just completed our next-to-last weekend before the season starts. So what did we learn?

1.  SEC, ACC are the deepest conferences: We can argue all day about who has the best conference in college football. Is it the SEC with six teams in the Top 25 and two in the Top 10? Or is it the Big 12 with three teams in the Top 10 but with nobody else ranked? There is no winner in that argument.

What I like to do is use the polls (in this case the AP poll) to break down the conferences by depth. How many teams were ranked plus how many teams actually got votes?

SEC (8): Six ranked (Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, LSU, Auburn, Georgia). Two more got votes (South Carolina, Ole Miss.)

ACC (7): Five ranked (Virginia Tech, Miami, Georgia Tech, UNC, FSU). Two more got votes (Clemson, BC).

Big 12 (7): Three ranked (Texas, OU, Nebraska). Four more got votes (Missouri, Texas Tech, Texas A&M), Oklahoma State).

Pac-10 (6): Three ranked (Oregon, USC, Oregon State). Three more got votes (Stanford, Arizona, Washington).

Big Ten (4): Four ranked (Ohio State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Penn State). No others got votes.

Big East (4): Two ranked (Pittsburgh, West Virginia). Two others go votes (Cincinnati, Connecticut).

2. Tennessee really had no choice on UNC game: Tennessee athletics director Mike Hamilton is getting hammered by his fans for trying to buy out a two-game series with North Carolina in 2011 and 2012 and replacing the Tar Heels with Buffalo. It’s easy to understand why the fans are mad. Such a decision makes it look like the Vols are ducking North Carolina (which they are) and it gives opponents, like Steve Spurrier, a free shot (which he gleefully took).

But when your program is down–and Tennessee’s is way down thanks to 14 months under the Boy Wonder–you have to make some tough, unpopular decisions. You can pretend that nothing is wrong and still keep the same schedule. Or you can swallow your pride and modify the non-conference schedule in the short term to give Derek Dooley a chance to rebuild the program.

And let’s face it. Hamilton is fighting for his professional life as well. He needs for Dooley to have some success sooner rather than later. It was a tough decision but the right decision. And the right decisions are not always popular.

3. The WAC is in trouble as a Division I football conference: I spoke to WAC Commissioner Karl Benson on Thursday. He is not having a good summer. Back in June Boise State, the flagship football program of the WAC, announced it was headed to the Mountain West Conference in 2011. On Thursday the Mountain West took two more of Benson’s schools, Fresno State and Nevada. And this was right after he met with the presidents of the league, who all agreed to the idea that each school must pay $5 million penalty to leave the conference. Then the MWC picked up the phone when BYU threatened to leave. Nevada and Fresno will pay the $5 million. They want to go in 2011. Benson will fight to keep them until 2012.

Bottom line: The WAC had better hope that Boise State has another magical run this season. Because its long-term future as a football conference at this level does not look good.

Just asking: If you’re WAC member Louisiana Tech, shouldn’t you be on the phone begging to get into Conference USA or the Sun Belt?

4. I hope Scott Stricklin has an extra $130,000 in the bank: Stricklin is Mississippi State’s new athletics director and back in the spring helped forge a compromise that will allow Bulldog fans to bring their beloved cowbells to home games in Starkville. But there is one stipulation: Fans cannot ring the bells at inappropriate times like, for example, when the visiting team is trying to run a play. Strickland and his staff have launched an education program hoping to get their fans to buy in and follow the rules of when to ring–and more importantly–when not to ring.

If they don’t, the conference rules that apply to artificial or electronically generated sound kick in: The first violation is a $5,000 fine. The second is $25,000. Every violation after that costs a cool $50,000.

Four SEC home games in Starkville. You do the math. Stricklin will probably have to write a check or have $130,000 deducted from Mississippi State’s revenue check next spring. Fans can’t help it. That is why they are fans. And that’s why we love them.

5. The NCAA Clearinghouse is broken: I understand that the NCAA Academic Clearinghouse is understaffed and overworked. I also understand that these situations are always more complicated than they appear. But there is something fundamentally wrong about a freshman who has gone through training camp being told in mid-to-late August that he is not academically eligible to play. Such was the case late last week when Alfy Hill, an Alabama signee from Shallotte, N.C., was suddenly declared ineligible.  The Clearinghouse ruled that a couple of online courses Hill took would not be counted towards his eligibility. So suddenly the kid is ripped out of Tuscaloosa and will apparently enroll at East Carolina instead. He’ll have to sit out this year and cannot be on scholarship.

Maybe these online courses raised a red flag. Maybe they should raise a red flag. Maybe this is part of  what seems to be a larger NCAA crackdown on just about everything from agents to living quarters. Whatever. Either the kid is eligible or he’s not. But he shouldn’t find out this late in the game.

Is it any wonder that kids take stuff from agents and others? They know the system is stacked against them. If the school signs too many players, they can get their scholarship yanked two weeks before class begins. Sorry kid. It’s a numbers game.

And what if the Clearinghouse drags its feet or is too understaffed to process the cases in a timely fashion? That’s just too bad for you, young man. Now you have to pack up and go home. I guess it’s tough being you right now.

Bottom line: All Clearinghouse cases involving football players must be resolved by August 1. No exceptions. Hire the staff. Other than rules enforcement and conducting championships, what does the NCAA do that is more important than this?

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440 comments Add your comment

BJohnDawg

August 23rd, 2010
9:10 am

Why is conference strength even up for debate. The last 4 national champions have come from the SEC. #1…Settled. #2…got to be Big 12….after that…who cares, they are all about the same.

NCAA clearinghouse broken. The NCAA is broken. Run by a bunch of good ole boys, with only one interest….protect the money train. Damn the players and screw the fans, they will pay no matter what. That is probably written in the NCAA’s mission statement.

VOLS….cannot blame them. They play Florida,Georgia,South Carolina, Alabama every year. So what if they try to soften the schedule some. Dooley is inheriting a mess. A Kiffin poop pile under the carpet at Neyland stadium. He should have a fighting chance.

Go Dawgs…should be a fun year of football!

RT

August 23rd, 2010
9:12 am

The SEC is better. The first example will be provided in two weeks at the Georgia Dome.

VOLinATL

August 23rd, 2010
9:13 am

I understand the reasons for the Vols ducking UNC, but it still sends a terrible message to the players. Play the game, maybe take a licking, and be proud. Besides, UNC will not be very good next year!

richtfan

August 23rd, 2010
9:13 am

i don’t think it’s even close when deciding whose conference is the best and strongest. the SEC is by far the superior conference. when is the last time the ACC winner won the bcs title? who consistently has more players drafted? SEC
who has more hall of fame stud coaches? SEC
conference dominance is not even debatable. the sec is the toughest and strongest conference hands down.

dagnabit

August 23rd, 2010
9:14 am

East Beast: Alabama committed the unpardonable sin of winning the national football championship.

4th down

August 23rd, 2010
9:16 am

The once great University of Tennessee is now nothing but a complete embarrassment to the SEC. I mean, it’s one thing to duck a powerhouse, but UNC? UNC? How good to you have to be to compete with one of the most historically MEDIOCRE teams in college football? Is their all-time winning percentage even at .500? The Vols are a complete joke.

Beast from the East

August 23rd, 2010
9:18 am

I am not going to be the head coach at Alabama,
I am smiling. I just cannot understand the obsession. Not trying to throw stones, but it really make no sense whatsoever.

destin dawg

August 23rd, 2010
9:19 am

SEC in FB top to bottom… ACC is BB not FB !!! Go Dawgs !! Parade mag.. this week… UGA #3 in large public Universities.. “Great education + Social scene + sports atmonsphere”.. got it all !!!!

destin dawg

August 23rd, 2010
9:20 am

Atmosphere.. too much coffee..

south eastern chumps

August 23rd, 2010
9:20 am

dogbreaths, funny when putting down the ACC you fail to mention FSU, VT, CLEMSON, MIAMI, UNC, GT..yeah your conference is so powerful NOT…let’s see TN and KY who beat you dogbreaths lost to VT snd Clemson. But God forbid any of you play anyone in the ACC just run your mouths. I mean, Clemson right up the road and you haven’t thought about playing them in what 10 years or more? And dogbreaths cannot even play LSU or Bama but think the country is going to be impressed with who? Miss St, Vanderbilt and the rest of those clowns.

lojak777

August 23rd, 2010
9:22 am

At 8:47 I posted a comment that every one of you morons chose to ignore. Why go with facts instead of just bashing huh??

Florida plays Florida Atlantic and Furman out of conference, Georgia plays Louisville and Coastal Carolina out of conference. Tennessee still plays Oregon on the road and Cincinnatti. Dropping one UNC game still leaves the Vols with quite a tought out of conference schedule. STFU

I am not going to be the head coach at Alabama. I am the head coach of the Miami Dolphins.

August 23rd, 2010
9:23 am

VOLinATL —Couldn’t agree more, on backing out on UNC. Even as a Dawg fan, it is kinda tough seeing UT fall so far. Still can’t believe they hired Kiffin. Derek will be digging out of this mess for years. It will be a long year for UT, but Derek will turn things around.

RxDawg

August 23rd, 2010
9:23 am

2. Tony, I disagree. This makes UT look yellow, period. I’m ashamed an SEC team would act like this, all in the name of wins. UT fans have a right to be upset, and if I was a Vol I would be demanding change.

3. “WAC is in trouble” Eh, maybe. Maybe not. College football hasn’t exactly rested it’s shoulders on the success of the WAC. In other words, it’s irrelevant on the national scale. There are lot’s of teams that are also irrelevant on the national scale. I’m not trying to be rude, but let’s face it how many people on this blog care about what’s going on at La Tech? What I’m getting it as there is a place for a lot of teams in the country for a off the radar team. For every school leaving the WAC, there is another that would love to be a part of it.

4. This is a load of bull. Miss St fans don’t want to follow the rules in the name of “tradition”. Ha! Tradition my rear end. There should be NO ARTIFICIAL NOISE MAKERS. The end.

5. “Either the kid is eligible or he’s not. But he shouldn’t find out this late in the game.”
Well that’s a no brainer. It’s not like the NCAA isn’t short on money either. They should have the proper staff for something important like this. I really don’t know enough about the process to make too much about it. I understand the NCAA is mostly to blame here. But should Alabama have some of this blame too? Also, what is the difference between playing at Alabama vs. East Carolina? Besides one is ranked.

CrackDaddy

August 23rd, 2010
9:25 am

Maybe the Tn-UNC thing has to do w/recruiting. Tn has been pretty successful in the past in recruiting western NC, which has put out some very good players. If UNC were to wax them, I’m sure that would put slam the door on Tn coming into NC. Regardless of what the UNC haters are saying on this blog, UNC recruiting is top-10 as we blog.

WondreDawg

August 23rd, 2010
9:28 am

I think anybody dismissing UT this season is full of crap! There was enough talent there last season to embarrass us, and play UF and AL toe-to-toe. UT will be at least as good as last year, and will probably play better against less talented teams under Dooley.

Under Kiffin, UT was spectacular one week, clueless the next. I think we will see a steadier team week to week this season with Dooley. I wish him luck this season. . . .except for one Saturday. The SEC needs a strong UT, as well as a strong UGA, to keep from being labeled a two or three team conference.

Red

August 23rd, 2010
9:28 am

With tough out of conference opponents like Georgia State and Georgia Southern, its clear that the SEC is the top conference.

The fans in Tuscaloosa are soling their diapers worrying about the Panthers coming this November.

I am not going to be the head coach at Alabama. I am the head coach of the Miami Dolphins.

August 23rd, 2010
9:29 am

lojak777 — I don’t think anyone questioned the strength on UT scheduling. Being in the SEC East, and playing Bama every year, UT has a hard row to hoe every year. Adding Oregon and Cinci certainly didn’t help.

Nonetheless, is going from a 4 to 5 win or 5 win to a 6 win season worth cancelling a mediocre UNC team? As I said, if UNC had been Ohio St, Texas, OK, USC I might could have agreed.

cuttysark

August 23rd, 2010
9:29 am

Untill another conference wins the BCS Championship, the SEC will be the leading conference. The ACC is very competitive from top to bottom, and will need to win some OOC games early in the season to start making some serious noise on the college football landscape. The Yellow Jackets will have a difficult schedule heading into November, but they have another opportunity to play for the ACC Championship if they can knock of the Hokies in Blacksburg who should be rated in the top 5. For more Georgia Tech Football articles go to http://isportsweb.com. Go Jackets!

roughrider

August 23rd, 2010
9:30 am

“But who has best conference ? ”

The one that wins the National Championship every year. The SEC.

SOOHSO

August 23rd, 2010
9:32 am

UT stabbed Fulmer in the back. What goes around comes around!

RxDawg

August 23rd, 2010
9:35 am

“UNC needs game, any VOLUNTEERS? ”

Second best blogging name I’ve seen this year.

Beast from the East

August 23rd, 2010
9:36 am

RxDawg,
I have to agree. That is a great name!

3rdn8

August 23rd, 2010
9:38 am

Red

I have trouble with the Bama v Ga State game — I wish mismatches like this were never scheduled.

Bill Curry and Mal Moore (Bama’s AD) go way back. This game creates a great opportunity for Curry and the Ga State program, as well as some jingle in the pockets.

long time sec fan

August 23rd, 2010
9:40 am

drop dead Ash–y ou made two mistakes in your post—
it’s “AN organization” not A organ. it’s also “FEWER than one–not LESS than one

Fast Eddie

August 23rd, 2010
9:40 am

Enter your comments here

bruce mac

August 23rd, 2010
9:40 am

lojak777, you are looking at the wrong year. UT does not have Oregon on the schedule in 2011. They now have Montana, Middle Tn State, and Buffalo. Everyone does play a couple of easy win teams but the Vols play 3 non BCS teams and Cincinatti. Weaker than even the Gators or Bama.

#2 BAMA FAN

August 23rd, 2010
9:42 am

UT needs to fire the AD Mike Hamilton ASAP!!!! Bama lost a good player thanks to the NCAA Clearinghouse, want a freaking JOKE!! The kid is going to play for Easy Carolina over Alabama
thanks to the KGB who are worst the IRS or KGB (KGB) being a bama fan anyway the kid goes
from playing for NC’s to the conference USA that is like playing for the NY Yankees and being
traded to the Pirates!!

HugoStiglitz

August 23rd, 2010
9:44 am

Its hard to say which conference is the best because its preseason and alot of those highly ranked teams may not even be ranked by the end of the season. The SEC has been the best the past few years and could possibly be again but its pretty hard to say right now. One thing that is certain is that no matter how well the SEC conference performs, there is no way that SEC fans will ever acknowledge that another conference might even be close to them.

I am not going to be the head coach at Alabama. I am the head coach of the Miami Dolphins.

August 23rd, 2010
9:45 am

bruce mac — thanks for the research. This makes UTs decision even more shameful.

boots

August 23rd, 2010
9:47 am

I would hope the reader base is smart enough to not jump in to the whole “which conference is better” crap. It seems to me that the AJC is putting out little content lately on college football and just opts for headlines that stoke everyone up to start the same ‘ol debates over and over again. The smaller papers do such a better job of covering the programs, but the AJC just throws out stupid headlines and reports only on the police blotters. Lame. Meanwhile they throw out some red meat like a conference debate and expect the fans to entertain themselves. This is not good journalism. Sorry, Tony, but it isn’t.

gdawginkalamazoo

August 23rd, 2010
9:53 am

IMO I think the ACC will be the most exciting conference to watch this year. They won’t win the NC but there should be some good competitive games.

UT should just bite the bullet and play UNC. At least it won’t look as bad as losing to a mid level MAC team like Buffalo. Plus you make money which NCAA football is all about. I think it hurts the program more to duck an opponent. Also they might even win the damn games. Really Dooley will lose his job if he loses to UNC? What happens if he loses to Buffalo?

RxDawg

August 23rd, 2010
9:55 am

lojak, I don’t care if UT had the New Orleans Saints on the schedule. You man up, you don’t run away. That’s what sports is all about. You have an obstacle, and you overcome it. You don’t pay that obstacle to move over for a much smaller obstacle. It sends the wrong message, and it’s motivated by greed. Not to mention that I agree with the guy that isn’t going to coach at Bama. What does this really do for UT? Bad bad bad move by Hamilton. I’m ashamed to share a conference with UT right now.

Tomsjeep88

August 23rd, 2010
9:57 am

Haven’t seen or read an official excuse for UT buying out of UNC. At least Tuberville & Auburn had a reason to get out of national champ FSU’s way in ‘99, what with an angry Bowden, and Bobby Lowder not wanting a 40-point beatdown to start the tenure of his new coach.

Tony are you an idiot?

August 23rd, 2010
9:59 am

Get real Tony; we are only one season removed where 2 teams that did not win the SEC East (UGA and SC) beat the 2 ACC contenders in the ACC Championship game. If either team were in the SEC they would give Vandy hope.

RxDawg

August 23rd, 2010
10:01 am

I’m going to repeat this question in hopes that someone can actually answer it. If this kid is not academically eligible to play at Alabama, why is he eligible to play at East Carolina?

kimmer

August 23rd, 2010
10:02 am

I got a fever! And the only prescription is MORE COWBELL!!!!

Tony are you an idiot?

August 23rd, 2010
10:03 am

He is not eligible at either this year Rx. If he wanted to pay his way to Bama he could this year but East Carolina might be closer to where he is from.

What?

August 23rd, 2010
10:03 am

Which conference is best? Is this question still being asked? Come on…

And I disagree completely about Hamilton having no choice.

producewiz

August 23rd, 2010
10:03 am

suprised by the Vol decision.can’t believe in the great football power from N.C. also, NCAA does make mistakes, and the kids suffer,but what’s the answer? NCAA has been sued and lost more cases then any organization I know, and they pass it on to member schools. get Spurrier’s honest take on them. Pretty funny.

SEC, Lies and Videotape

August 23rd, 2010
10:05 am

Just when I thought Tony had reached the lowest level of credibility,
he goes and sets a “a new low.”

Its laughable that Tony thinks the NCAA Clearinghouse is the problem.

First, the NCAA as an institution is a JOKE. For example, the NCAA knew 5 yearas ago about Reggie Bush’s “issues.” And yet, only now, 5 years later, has the NCAA done anything about it.

The NCAA delibereatly turns a blind eye and a deaf ear
towards ANYTHNG that would jeopardize their CASH-FLOW.

The very fact that he NCAA allows all of CURRENT
bullsh** in the system to continue is a testament to the
NCAA as a FAILED institution. It will be replaced. Count on it.

I’ll offer a recap of what Tony said, and few thoughts to clarify.

Tony said: “But there is something fundamentally wrong about a freshman who has gone through training camp being told in mid-to-late August that he is not academically eligible to play.”

Tony doesnt bother to add that sometimes , Sophomores, Juniors , and Seniors dont qualify academically either. This kid had serious academic issue LONG before Fall camp. The fine folks at Bama thought they could get him eligible with “joke” on-line courses. Did Bama bother to contact the NCAA to MAKE SURE the courses were legit? Nope.

How can Bama offer a scholarship to a kid who was OBVIOUSLY not academicall qualified AT THE TIME BAMMA OFFERED the scholarship?
Kind of duplicitous on the the part of Bama, dont you think?

Tony adds: “So suddenly the kid is ripped out of Tuscaloosa and will apparently enroll at East Carolina instead. He’ll have to sit out this year and cannot be on scholarship.”

Bama wanted this kid to play, and thought they could get by with these bogus courses. Bama had nothing to lose with this gamble, the kid had his eiligibility and his scholarship on the line. Bama won. The kid lost.

But as Tony so glibbly responds to anything
logical & ethical…”Whatever.”

What’s REALLY going on here is using scholarship offers as a “try-out” system. This is the REAL ISSUE Tony doesnt wont to go near.

For decades, SEC teams have NOTORIOUSLY over-recruited ON PURPOSE and then used the Summer evalauations and Fall practices as a tryout system to “weed out” the below-par players. Kids that dont make the cut, end up losing their eigibility to play that year, and have to transfer out, just like thiskid in question.

What Tony also wont admit is that the SEC has been THE SINGLE WORST conference in this regard.

Folks, Bear Bryant PIONEERED this “system.” This “system” was made famous in the movie “The Junction Boys.” It was all about Bear Bryant’s Summer “tryout system” at Texas A&M.

Bryant used this exact same tryout system at Bama during his entire coaching career. The rest of the SEC chose to simply follow the exact same method.

This was the VERY SOURCE of the historic fall out between GT’s Bobby Dodd and Bear Bryant. Dodd was outraged by Bryant’s MASSIVE
over-recruitment and tryout system. Dood considered it immoral and unethical. Bryant simply saw it as “Business as Usual.” So did the entire SEC.

Tony also wrote: “Is it any wonder that kids take stuff from agents and others? They know the system is stacked against them. If the school signs too many players, they can get their scholarship yanked two weeks before class begins. Sorry kid. It’s a numbers game.”

So, Tony is now blaming the kids?? Its not “THE SYSTEM” that stacked against the kids. Its the “SEC SYSTEM” that’s stacked against them.

The SEC promotes, endorses, and thrives on the CURRENT system by allowing kids who are academcially unqualified for ANY college work, to get a “free-pass” to get them on the field using methods like UGA’s infamous “Special Admissions” program or other bullsh** REMEDIAL coursework in the first 2 years of college eligibility.

So, here we have Tony whining and complaining about how “unfair” the system is, and yet he is among the MOST VOCALS supporters of the SEC and the member schools that embrace, condone, and support this “system.”

But, this is all just “standard fair” for Tony.

Tony is not just a hypopcrite. He’w worse than that.

Tony is simply a journalistic COWARD.

He DARE NOT write the TRUTH on matters like this regarding the SEC.

Pal

August 23rd, 2010
10:10 am

Kool Breeze! When you finally return to this planet, look for UGA in the Cotton Pickers Bowl.

what?

August 23rd, 2010
10:10 am

“southeastern chumps”

everyone does mention GT when talking about ACC weaklings. Also, it’s not just Georgia when talking about scheduling Clemson. They ARE on UGA’s schedule in the very near future. Clemson, as you’ll recall, was trying to schedule a home game with UGA on a Thursday night!!!! THURSDAY NIGHT?!! No freakin’ way that is going to happen and Georgia told them that. Thursday night is for bumble bees and other ACC weaklings and irrelevant SEC teams. So please, know the facts before spouting off at the lips. You don’t know JACK about UGA-Clemson. There is also a thing in conference scheduling called “rotating schedules” meaning we can’t play Bama and LSU every year. My god man, you are a true idiot!!

Otto

August 23rd, 2010
10:13 am

Tony, I agree with what you said on Talking Football, dropping UNC was a good move. UT is down at the moment and a purchased win is a good financial decision. UT may need the win to get in a bowl and it will help their limited depth in those seasons. Wins and going to a respectable bowl will help UT get the recruits needed for them to be back in the hunt in the SEC East.

As for honoring the contract that is why these contracts have buyout clauses, and tell death do we part was not part of the contract.

Otto

August 23rd, 2010
10:15 am

Also yes Hamilton only needs to look in the mirror to see why these embarassing decisions were needed, if he had not made a bad hire for the previous coach UT may have been on much better ground.

Munson

August 23rd, 2010
10:15 am

Beast, enjoy the Saban infatuation while it lasts. Come early November I’m sure my fellow Dawg fans will be obsessed with your head coach and his future :)

what?

August 23rd, 2010
10:15 am

Uh dumbo, sex lies, etc.:

Georgia does NOT have a special admissions program. Quit making stuff up to support the BS you spew!!

beachwriter

August 23rd, 2010
10:18 am

To all you yahoos saying “ALL artificial noisemakers should be banned,” that’s fine as long as ALL artificial noisemakers are truly banned from the stadium. However, once that happens, there’ll be no band instruments, radios, cell phones, etc. because ALL of these items make “artificial noise,” whatever the hell that is. I defy some lawyer to come up with a legal definition of “artificial noise” that only includes cowbells. How is 50,000 people ringing cowbells at Scott Field ANY different than 100K Vols fans at Neyland with that super-amped-up sound system??? Y’all are just pigheaded morons.

Topp Dogg

August 23rd, 2010
10:19 am

The Big Orange has now become the Little Lemon, suck one Vols fans.

4th down

August 23rd, 2010
10:21 am

Don’t pay any attention to anyone saying we run from Clemson. We beat them like rented mules every single time we play them. Just like we do Tech.

Damon Dirty Dawg

August 23rd, 2010
10:24 am