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

Damon Dirty Dawg

August 23rd, 2010
10:25 am

Tony – you censoring posts? Atleast I’m not one of the bloggers calling you an idiot.

S FL Chapter of the Bulldog Nation

August 23rd, 2010
10:26 am

Beast From The East….I read the comments and there was not one thing that stated the anti-Saban comments are from Dawg fans. I know A LOT of people around the country, especially down here in S FL, that don’t care too much for the guy. Much like the people in Atl and their feelings for Bobby Patrino (sp?). I’m not sure about the stats that were thrown out buy someone, but all I know is that he’s a good coach, in my opinion, and he flat out lied when asked about the Bama job when he was with the Dolphins.

Tony…from top to bottom the SEC is a stronger conference. No doubt! The ACC has a good top half, but has been let down in recent years with their bowl performances. Every year their bowl match that I can remember they have not faired well in their BCS bowl games which is their top team, and have not had an at large team represent the conference. (That I can remember)

I do think that the NCAA should have everything together as far as eligibility as student-athletes prior to fall semester beginning…I think that kid got a raw deal enrolling and now having to change schools.

I think UT is in a bad situation right now between the coaching change, players leaving and being kicked off the team….not sure if 86′in a home-n-home with UNC is the best thing to do, but obviously the “brain trust” at UT feels like they didn’t have a good shot of beating UNC and W’s are more important than pride at this point. They need to keep the Orange Overalls happy up there!

Only a few more days baby!!! Let’s get this party started!!! GO DAWGS!!!

Time Out

August 23rd, 2010
10:27 am

UGA – 2009 ACC Champions.

DawgByte

August 23rd, 2010
10:28 am

If UT dropped UNC because they are down and need help rebuilding…Why does UGA never play a decent non-conference opponent?? Sure OK St. was pretty good but remember we scheduled them when they were terrible. Who else have we ever scheduled??? FSU? UNC? Virginia Tech? What ever happened to the Clemson series? We play about as creampuff of an OOC schedule as you can get. The only thing saving us from the absolute worst is that we play rival GT which certainly is not Ohio State or Texas. I just wish we’d play someone top 10 OOC say twice per decade than some team we should roll over by three scores (Colorado) or worse for the 1AA teams.

npgator

August 23rd, 2010
10:29 am

The ACC has proven nothing over the past several years so I think this discussion is moot until they can win a BCS Championship.

Mash

August 23rd, 2010
10:29 am

Tony, I have to disagree with you about the Tennessee decision to back out of series with UNC. This blatant attempt by Mike Hamilton to cover his own rear, and it won’t work. He should be out of a job. It is also revisionist of you to lay the blame for current state of UT football on Lane Kiffin. It was Fulmer that left the cupboard of talent completely bare at UT in his waning years. Whatever you think of Kiffin and his staff, they made an improvement over the team before them.

Tony, please get back to your investigative reporting roots and report to us this: why does no one want the UT job. It was painfully obvious that no credible coach wanted the job last year when they were turned down by everyone until they finally had to turn to Derek Dooley. But, it is erroneous to make the assupmtion that this mess is the doing of ‘boy wonder’. Let’s not forget that the UT coaching search 2 years ago was just as painful as the last one, which is why the ‘boy wonder’ ended up as coach there in the first place. Why does no credible coach want to go there? Is the A.D. incompetent? (As the pulling out the UNC series would suggest).

GT Alum

August 23rd, 2010
10:31 am

I don’t know about Tony stirring up the pot as to an ACC v SEC strength of conference debate. I, personally, am just glad that the ACC is considering strong this year and hopefully will be left out of the weakest BCS conference debate. It was weird because the ACC has had several programs that have been rebuilding the past few years, but now there’s a group of them that are all coming up at the same time, so there should be a lot of depth, even if no one team is top 5 material.

robdawg08

August 23rd, 2010
10:33 am

No brainer the SEC is the best conference. No wuss teams period. Vandy,Ole Miss,and Kentucky are second tier but would still beat many of the top tier teams in the other conferences (except the top one in each conf. like Texas,USC,Miami). Wasted blog Barnhart. Not up for argument.

GeneralNeyland96

August 23rd, 2010
10:33 am

While I can understand the administrations motives for wanting to change the UNC series (we wanted to re-schedule, instead of cancel)….there is nothing good that can come from the change:

1. We play UNC, and maybe take our lumps against them, or later in the season for having played them.

2. Drop UNC and take our lumps in the arena of public opinion (this blog, for instance)

3. Worst case scenario – an upstart Buffalo team comes in and beats us a la App St & UofM

What a big mouth

August 23rd, 2010
10:34 am

SEC, Lies & videotape,

“the VERY SOURCE of the historic fall out between GT’s Bobby Dodd and Bear Bryant” was the Holt/Graning incident.

Get your facts straight

robdawg08

August 23rd, 2010
10:35 am

Time out has it right UGA beat Ga. Tech (the ACC champ) and we were the 5th best SEC team. That should tell you something about the SEC right there…

dap01

August 23rd, 2010
10:35 am

Good article but no one really believe that the ACC is equal to the SEC.

robdawg08

August 23rd, 2010
10:36 am

No conference has 6 teams like these SEC 6 : Fla,Bama,Auburn,Tenn,UGA,LSU. Bottomline.

T P Johnson

August 23rd, 2010
10:37 am

I am a season ticket holder at UT for over thirty years and not happy dropping the Heels but when you look at teams in the SEC who consistently go outside of conference and play top teams, the Vols rank higher than anyone in this department. Future schedules have Ohio State, Nebraska and Oregon. Show me another school in conference outside of Bama who plays someone.

robdawg08

August 23rd, 2010
10:37 am

8 out of last 10 national champions were SEC teams. Damn…

gdawginkalamazoo

August 23rd, 2010
10:37 am

Tony, so what happens if Buffalo beats UT?

robdawg08

August 23rd, 2010
10:38 am

And I left out Ole Miss,South Carolina ans Arkansas that are all gonna be good this year !

robdawg08

August 23rd, 2010
10:39 am

In the other conferences there’s only 2 to 3 top teams. The SEC has 6,7,maybe 8 EVERY YEAR.

what?

August 23rd, 2010
10:42 am

T P Johnson,

What about Georgia? Arizona St, Oklahoma St., Colorado, Boise State, we also have future games w/ Louisville and Clemson with Oregon a possibility also. These schedules are made so far in advance that no one knows for sure how good a team will be when you actually play them.

robdawg08

August 23rd, 2010
10:44 am

I’ll give the ACC Ga. Tech,Miami,Va. Tech,Clemson as good teams. If FSU,BC,NC,NC St.,Maryland, can rebound to prominence then I’d make them even with the SEC.

BoatDawg

August 23rd, 2010
10:45 am

Tony, you are right. The Clearinghouse is broken. My wife worked as the head of admissions and registrar at a small division II school in WV. They had some players that were not cleared by the NCAA until after their first game.

HugoStiglitz

August 23rd, 2010
10:50 am

The SEC had 8 top tier teams last year? You have got to be kidding me. They had three at most, with the third being questionable.

SEC, Lies and Videotape

August 23rd, 2010
10:50 am

Incorrect.

Dodd made it clear in numerous interviews and his autobiogrpahy,
it was the SEC’s decision on the recruiting issues and its effect on
the so-called scholarship tryouts that was the MAJOR REASON why Dodd too Tech out of the SEC.

The Holt/Granning incident was another sore-point between the two,
but not THE MAJOR REASON.

Please take the time to get YOUR facts straight.

Time Out

August 23rd, 2010
10:51 am

Please don’t mention the ACC in the same context as the SEC. The ACC is a joke of a football conference. They need to stick with Lacrosse and field hockey.

Time Out

August 23rd, 2010
10:52 am

Oh yeah, and Gtu needs to stick with Nerd Wars – Robot fighting.

Tide Rising

August 23rd, 2010
10:55 am

What the NCAA did to Alfy Hill was nothing short of bureaucratic bungling with pompous intent.

The computer correspondence course in question had been accepted by the NCAA and various colleges offering admittance to non athletes for years. Over 300 students and student athletes had taken the course at this high school over the years.

The course was taken in a classroom setting with other students in the same class taking the same course and with an instructor present throughout. Why the NCAA had accepted this course for years and years and all of a sudden deemed it unacceptable is anyone’s guess. They are the NCAA and they need not answer to Alfy Hill, Tony Barnhart, or anyone else.

One last thing. Hill had to take the course in lieu of PE because he had broken his hand and could not take PE. Is it possible that this course was even easier than PE? I seriously doubt it.

Tide Rising

August 23rd, 2010
10:56 am

SEC, Lies, and videotape,

Truly a posting of profound ignorance.

Laughing

August 23rd, 2010
10:56 am

I guess by using ugag fan standards,

That would make West Virginia the 2006 Big East Champs…AND…
the 2006 SEC Champs, after WV KO’d ugag in the 2006 Sugar Bowl.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Stupid Mutts

SEC, Lies and Videotape is FOS

August 23rd, 2010
10:57 am

SEC, Lies and Videotape spouts BS with out any supporting facts, links or substantiation. Yet he resorts to calling a respected journalist names. LMAO

what?

August 23rd, 2010
11:02 am

“WV ko’d UGA”? They won by a field goal MORON. Oh yeah, 3 points constitutes a “beat down” just like the Nerds improbable 45-42 victory. What does that make 51-7?

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

August 23rd, 2010
11:03 am

DawgByte — why does UGA not schedule top non-con teams?? Check your facts. No, we haven’t scheduled OSU, Texas, etc… We have in recent and upcoming years scheduled Boise St, Ok St, Colorado, Louisville, Clemson, Ariz St, not to mention North Ave Trade School.

Have other SEC teams occassionally scheduled a big name? yes. However, on a year to year basis, I would put UGA non-con schedule up against any SEC team. Do we schedule a couple of cupcakes every year, yes. Show me a top tier SEC that does not.

SEC, Lies and Videotape

August 23rd, 2010
11:03 am

Now THATS Funny.

A Tide fan, from the ONE PROGRAM recognized in ALL of college sports as
THE MOST CORRUPT, calling out someone else’s posting as “ignorant.”

Man, I guess FACTS & TRUTH dont exist in Tuscaloosa.

Or, the facts are just too damning for Bama to admit.

Bama Rama

August 23rd, 2010
11:03 am

Dooley needs time to “rebuild” the program by dropping games against good teams? What a joke! UT’s program has reached a new low—first hiring the buffoon kiffin now running scared from the mighty tar heels! Bama fans are loving this !!!!!!!

Brian

August 23rd, 2010
11:06 am

After all the years of the Big 10 getting lambasted for poor bowl performances, where is the love after 2009? The conference won TWO BCS bowls (neither of which was vs. Cincinnati) and also beat LSU & Miami, – 4 wins versus the Top 15. When the Big 10 struggled in the bowls, that was always used a point against them in the pre-season rankings. Why isn’t a successful bowl season also used to give them a bump in the pre-season rankings?

Tide Rising

August 23rd, 2010
11:07 am

Beast of the East,

You’re right. Something strange going on with the dawg fan’s obsession with Nick Saban and Alabama. I don’t get it. Hell one guy even has his handle “I’m not going to be the head coach at Alabama”. This guy is consumed with Saban.

whitx2

August 23rd, 2010
11:08 am

SEC, lies

Your post was W-A-Y too long and you don’t know what you are talking about.One of AH’s on-line courses was in 10th grade HS. How was it bama’s fault? How in the HE!! did bama WIN and the kid lose? On second thought, don’t answer these questions b/c you would ramble on and still not know what you were talking about.

SEC, Lies and Videotape

August 23rd, 2010
11:09 am

Thats a lie.

I would never accuse Tony of being a “respected journalist.”

Boise Dawg

August 23rd, 2010
11:10 am

Dooley the younger must be chip off the old block. It seemed Vince never wanted to schedule tough out of conference games when he was Georgia’s AD. Better OOC scheduling was one of the biggest football improvements when Evans took over. Damon was a little more optimistic / ambitious when it came to scheduling OOC. I always admired Tennesse for scheduling some big OOC opponenets over the years… looks as if those days are over.

Tide Rising

August 23rd, 2010
11:12 am

SEC, lies, and videotape,

I call your posting ignorant because your rant about the Alfy Hill story is completely devoid of the facts. Just one example of is that you blamed Alabama for admitting a player that had not qualified. News flash. The NCAA had qualified the kid- not Alabama. Could you possibly be any dumber?

Time Out

August 23rd, 2010
11:14 am

To SEC fans: do not try to agrue with the Nerd crew. They are they equivalent of immature children who have a hard time getting by day to day.

Kirk Frentz

August 23rd, 2010
11:20 am

Brian, thank you for saying that. We had a great time playing the Wake Forest Yellow Jackets in the Orange Bowl. Can’t say it was much of a challenge but hey it was a BCS win. I agree that if we had played the ACC champion UGA Bulldogs we might be ranked a little higher to start this season.

gdawginkalamazoo

August 23rd, 2010
11:22 am

Boise Dawg, who could ever forget the Richmond Spiders and VMI games that Vince scheduled. He always made sure to note in his pre-game pressers about “what a fine football team _____ has.”

SecGuy

August 23rd, 2010
11:23 am

SEC, Lies etc. Actually Dodd tried to get back in the SEC in the 70s and Bryant sponsored him, so he apparently had a change of mind. I guess the other garbage in your post was just the lies which you promised in your handle.

Lou Holtz aka the Spitting Cobra

August 23rd, 2010
11:23 am

Tide Rising, so you’re saying that UGA fans are as obsessed with Nick Saban as Bama fans are with all their fake national championships?

Marble Rye

August 23rd, 2010
11:24 am

Please STOP blaming Kiffin for UT being down. No coach can be at a school FOR ONE F’ING YEAR ONLY and bring it down, unless there are major violations that the school has been convicted of by the NCAA. And that hasn’t happened at UT. I really wish SEC types would stop taking shots at Kiffin – HE’S GONE, MOVE ON! He is NOT the blame for all of UT’s woes. If you want to blame someone for thick mediocrity, blame Fulmer and Hamilton.

Jigsaw

August 23rd, 2010
11:29 am

Changing Buffalo for UNC could be a triple embarassment. The switch is the first, the second is it could be played in front of fewer than 50 thousand fans and third, Bufffalo could whip a flat Vol team.

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

August 23rd, 2010
11:37 am

Tide Rising— “consumed w Saban” dream on. I simply have a sense of humor, an asset grossly missing from UA fans. I simply have a problem w someone who repeatedly vows “I am not leaving, I am not leaving, I am not leaving, Ok I’m leaving” Then, expecting commitments from 18 yr old kids.

I could also call myself:
I have a home in Tuscaloosa, but I’ll soon be in Ann Arbor
I hope I am not treated like the last guy who won a NC here (See the running off of Gene Stallings.)
Derek “what have I done” Dooley
Robbie “what have I done” Caldwell
Gene “no one wants me here” Chizik
Steve “what have I done to my career” Spurrier
Phil “UT got what they deserved” Fulmer

The list could go on and on.
Lighten up.

Learnin' From Vince

August 23rd, 2010
11:37 am

Just like his old man–Derrick’s learning to play a bunch of weak teams but build them up like they are national champions—duck the good teams when possible to make your record “look better.”

SEC, Lies and Videotape

August 23rd, 2010
11:38 am

Dodd tried to get Tech back in the SEC with Bryant’s help, because teh Tech program was in a severe financial condition.

That, however, does not disqaulify that fact the the SEC, and Bryant in particular have used and contiue to use over-recruiting process that is simply unethical. And yet, Tony compplains about eh “unfairness” of the “system” that he supports.

Here’s a few tidbits from a recent artcle about the SEC:

“At South Carolina, All-American linebacker Eric Norwood recently graduated early with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Norwood was…TWICE DENIED…admission to South Carolina before being accepted as a special admit. The school softened special admission standards in 2007 after coach Steve Spurrier…THREATENED TO QUIT…when two recruits who met NCAA eligibility requirements were turned down.”

“At Alabama, 19 football players got in as part of a special admissions program from 2004 to 2006, the most recent years available in the NCAA report. The school tightened its standards for “special admits” in both 2004 and 2007, but from 2004 through 2006, Crimson Tide athletes were still more than 43 times more likely to benefit from such exemptions. Alabama coach Nick Saban offered no apologies. “

“The numbers, however, show…SPECIAL ADMISSIONS…exceptions are used far more often for athletes than musicians. At Georgia, for instance, 73.5 percent of athletes were…SPECIAL ADMITS…compared with 6.6 percent of the student body as a whole.”

The SEC is just one big toilet bowl of corruption.

Delbert D.

August 23rd, 2010
11:39 am

One of Tony’s counterparts on Saturday’s TV show picked Stephen Garcia as the surprise player who is going to make a big splash this year. If he does, that would be bad news for some SEC East teams. Garcia is 4th in Passer Rating among the 6 schools in the SEC who have a returning QB. I’m combining Vandy’s 2 QBs who both started last year, Smith and Adams( combined 90% Passer Rating.) Garcia’s rating was 119.3.

The average of the top 5 major conferences’ returning QBs (31 players, again counting the 2 Vandy guys as 1) is 132.1. The closest guys to that average rating are Ricky Stanzi of Iowa and Matt Barkley of USC. The only other players lower than Garcia are Shinskie of BC, Prince of UCLA and Yates of UNC.