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

SEC, Lies and Videotape

August 23rd, 2010
1:23 pm

Uh, what?

Here you go: from the AJC:

http://www.ajc.com/sports/content/sports/stories//2008/12/28/acadmain_1228_3DOT.html

“The numbers, however, show special admissions exceptions are used far more often for athletes than oboists. At Georgia, for instance, 73.5 percent of athletes were special admits compared with 6.6 percent of the student body as a whole.”

Like I said…

Atlanta Gator

August 23rd, 2010
1:27 pm

@Rick:

That’s mostly true, professor, but Urban Meyer did not develop his spread option offense based on what he learned as an assistant coach at Ohio State. Those Buckeye boys still yearn for the “three yards and a cloud of dust” days that Spurrier permanently banished from the SEC in the 1990s.

BTW, I do believe that both Mark Richt and Steve Spurrier are products of Florida, not Ohio universities. Gene Chizik, too. And I do believe that Nick Saban had greater success at LSU and Alabama than he ever had at Toledo or Michigan State. Ditto for Urban Meyer and his time at Bowling Green and Utah. Looks like those Midwestern “football schools” are running off all their best coaching talent. That’s okay; we’ll keep’em.

JB

August 23rd, 2010
1:28 pm

If Georgia State willfully will play Bama, Tennessee should play NC. I know it’s about the money with state, and exposure, for Tennessee it’s pride…..At at the end of the day, pride ought to win out. I think the Tennessee folk know they are in for a tough couple of years.
Dooley will get three. If he’s 6-6 with 3 recruiting classes under his belt, he’s gone. Why ?
Bama. Saban won a National title in year 3. That’s where the bar is in the SEC now for the elite. He won’t be allowed to “turn the corner” in year four IMO.

CrackDaddy

August 23rd, 2010
1:28 pm

DawgTrainer, Tn officials (and coach) stated clearly that they do not want to play UNC in the near future because their program is down. I.e., “we don’t want to play UNC when we are a decided underdog.” Don’t try to spin what they said in plain English.

Preston

August 23rd, 2010
1:28 pm

1.) Of course the SEC is the best. That’s why every time they’re given the chance to play for the MNC, they win it. And win it quite convincingly.
2.) Shame on UT! They are an SEC team. They should never have attempted to duck an opponent. Especially an ACC opponent. Sad!
3.) It’s the WAC and the MWC……who cares?
4.) MSU better go ahead and prohibit those cowbells. It’s going to be like Christopher Walken on SNL. “I’ve gotta fever, and the only remedy is more cowbell!” LMAO!!!
5.) Shame on the NCAA for allowing bureaucracy to govern reason. What a mess!

Oracle of Dacula

August 23rd, 2010
1:34 pm

Score Check

Just like Texas caught a break when Sam Bradford was injured in the first quarter of the Texas/OU game.

And Texas still barely one.

Beast from the East

August 23rd, 2010
1:36 pm

Lies,
I believe that article proves that it is pretty much a nationwide practice. Bama was mentioned first and foremost because it was a Birmingham paper. Why single out the SEC? Are they not playing by the same rules that the rest of the NCAA is?

reality

August 23rd, 2010
1:37 pm

what? is a very angry person….don’t have a heart attack…this is just a blog.

Lewis Grizzard

August 23rd, 2010
1:38 pm

G Time said: “Derek Dooley’s 17-20 as a head coach…. the guy just can’t coach.”.

To be fair, he didn’t have a lot to work with in his three years at LTU. And, he did a great job at LSU… helping Saban win a National Championship. If given a chance, I believe he’ll do just fine at UT.

Ted Striker

August 23rd, 2010
1:39 pm

1) I respectfully disagree that anything has been learned from the pre-season polls, be it which conference is “deeper” or “stronger.” Till games are played, it’s all speculation.

2) Tennessee made the right choice.

3) If I were the WAC conference, I’d not be hoping for another “magical run” by Boise State. I’d hope that the teams who haven’t decided to leave hammered them. The best way to show somebody is to show them on the field.

4) It was a bad call by the conference to allow the cowbells to continue. If cowbells help Ms. State (intentional) win a single game, the money it costs the school will be well worth it to the boosters.

5) Agreed with you on the NCAA clearinghouse. I don’t blame the employees, I blame the boss.

TB must be drunk

August 23rd, 2010
1:41 pm

Nothing else to add. Just figured that Tony was drunk again when he rated the ACC better than the Big 10. Who won three BCS bowls last year?

DP

August 23rd, 2010
1:45 pm

Lies, you’ve been called out and exposed. Leave it alone. The article notes that schools measure it different ways, a lot of schools didn’t participate, etc. It references Cal which is one of the best schools in the country. There’s no consistent measure that allows comparison of all schools. If you think your school that plays big time football, no matter what school it is, doesn’t have lower admission requirements for football players than it does for the general student population you’re an idiot.

what?

August 23rd, 2010
1:49 pm

Uh Lies,

That was an article from 2 years ago written by a GT beat writer. There is no credibility in the article since it said “GT football players had the highest GPA in the country”. We all know that is NOT the case as more recent data compiled backs that up. BTW, I don’t think anyone on this blog denies the fact that athletes are more likely to be admitted on a special admission basis.

Win 2 Games and We're In

August 23rd, 2010
1:51 pm

WAC is the best conference

what?

August 23rd, 2010
1:53 pm

“fallicy”
If you have nothing to contribute to the blog, stay off!!!!

TrippDawg

August 23rd, 2010
1:57 pm

Is it too early to start digging the hole to bury what’s left of the Western Athletic Conf. ?

Otto

August 23rd, 2010
1:58 pm

Ed, IMO once a decade is about right for UGA to play Clemson. UGA does not gain much by playing Clemson. Yes I was there for games in the 80s and 90s but would rather see Ok St. Az St., Colorado and Oregon.

HugoStiglitz

August 23rd, 2010
1:58 pm

People seem to be confused. Tony isnt rating the conferences based on events that happened several years ago or even last year. He is rating them on perceived strength going into this season.

Delbert D.

August 23rd, 2010
1:59 pm

Dawg Trainer – Make that 12 games against decent opponents for UT. MTSU won 10 games last year including the New Orleans bowl. Montana was undefeated in the regular season, losing to Villanova in the FCS playoffs. They finished 14-1. In 2008, they were 14-2, losing to Richmond in the FCS CG. Kroy Biermann and Shan Schillinger of the Falcons are former Grizzlies. I watched 2 of their games late in the season when no decent FBS games were being televised in late afternoon.

Dawg Trainer

August 23rd, 2010
1:59 pm

“CrackDaddy

August 23rd, 2010
1:28 pm
DawgTrainer, Tn officials (and coach) stated clearly that they do not want to play UNC in the near future because their program is down. I.e., “we don’t want to play UNC when we are a decided underdog.” Don’t try to spin what they said in plain English.”

Let me find this statement. I’ll be right back.

AlwaysAVol

August 23rd, 2010
2:01 pm

From what I have heard, UT was in the process of trying to drop UNC even before the arrival of the circus clown and his “I must be blind” wife. There was talk of dropping UNC when Fulmer still coached. Why? Dollars and recruiting. Even through normal attrition, UT is scheduled for a down couple of years or two. With the merry go round of the last two years, it was solidified. By replacing UNC with another weaker team, it could very well be the difference between going bowling or not in 2011. Recruits watch bowl games. Schools like money. Do I like it? No. Do I understand it? Yes. The Vols will be be back, give us time.

Otto

August 23rd, 2010
2:04 pm

Going into this season strongest to weakest.

1) SEC,
2) Big12
3) after a larger gap ACC,
4 and 5 very close) PAC10, Big 10

Real Tech

August 23rd, 2010
2:04 pm

Out of fear, uga dropped clemson like a hot potato. They got tired of those beatdowns from another team in orange.

juvenal

August 23rd, 2010
2:07 pm

ACC has 6 in US NEWS top 50….

gt

August 23rd, 2010
2:08 pm

Tony you are drinking the Koolaid again. The kid shouldn’t be in college in the first place. Alabama put him in this situation not the NCAA. You sound like a mob lawyer.

Lewis Grizzard

August 23rd, 2010
2:09 pm

SOOHSO said: “UT stabbed Fulmer in the back. What goes around comes around.”

That’s true. But Fulmer stabbed Majors in the back… karma’s a b!tch.

gdawginkalamazoo

August 23rd, 2010
2:10 pm

Lewis, I agree D Dooley could be a good to great coach. As the AD at LTU he put a lot of BCS type schools on his schedule. The ones that pay a lot.

Atlanta Gator, I would watch a UT-Buffalo game. And pull for Buffalo. Just because UT “wanted” the game.

what?

August 23rd, 2010
2:10 pm

Fake Tech,

Do you honestly think before typing? Look at the UGA-Clemson series an let me know about the last few games between the 2. What a complete MORON!!!!

Delbert D.

August 23rd, 2010
2:10 pm

The cowbells:

1) Will season ticket holders allow a “cowbell” contribution to be added to the athletic association donation requirements? How do you keep them out of the stadium? Metal detectors, which brings up:

2) How long will it be before Homeland Security requires scanning at gates of all athletic events to hopefully head off a terrorist strike?

rick

August 23rd, 2010
2:11 pm

atlanta gator , mark richt hasn’t won a title and spurrier won one because ohio state beat number 2 ariz. state in the rose . it is hard to argue with the success that the sec has had with the ohio/big ten coaches . another point would be both super bowl wins the state of florida has had , yup, you guessed it , both ohio coaches ! look at new orleans , big ten q.b. , big ten r.b. , and a big ten corner that picked off peyton manning to seal the deal last year ! by the way , new orleans head coach was a big ten assistant tooo (illinois)……….. lol.

Know Nothing Nerd

August 23rd, 2010
2:14 pm

Typical bungle bee nerd trying to hide behind another school in an attempt to put down UGA. Hey Dr. Spock, I think Georgia pretty much stomped Clemson the last couple times they have played including a 300-0 butt whipping in Death Valley. I wish we could drop the Nerds from our schedule because you add nothing to the “rivalry”.

Vols afraid of ACC

August 23rd, 2010
2:17 pm

`
A big bad SEC team (Tennessee)
is afraid to play an ACC team (North Carolina)
so Derek Dooley can pad his losing record.
.
I hope the Buffalo Bulls stomp Tennessee both times they play.

Yellow Fuzzy

August 23rd, 2010
2:17 pm

That whole David Carradine thing really scared me.

what?

August 23rd, 2010
2:18 pm

Rick, you don’t wanna go there with the NFL players and where they are from. You will LOSE every time in an argument about NFL players and the schools they played at. Just go up and down NFL rosters and get back with us about where most of them are from!!!

Know Nothing Nerd

August 23rd, 2010
2:19 pm

30-0…sorry. But it seemed like 300-0!!

TAR!!!!

August 23rd, 2010
2:22 pm

ONE TEAM, ALL SPORTS. Your conference doesn’t matter, just your team.

rick

August 23rd, 2010
2:25 pm

what? …. just sayin the last 2 s.b. winners were loaeded with big ten players or ohio players . 4 ohio schools were represented in both those games , including the mvp 2 yrs. ago (holmes) and two time s.b. winner big ben ! porter (indiana) , picking off manning was priceless!!!

rick

August 23rd, 2010
2:29 pm

what ? …. i would love to “go there” guaranteed , more players , mvps , heisman winners , s.b. mvps ,coaches and on and on , have come from , let’s say , “up north”.

Delbert D.

August 23rd, 2010
2:31 pm

Otto – Sounds about right for your rankings. It will change with the move of Nebraska to the Big Ten+, and to a lesser extent, Colorado and Utah to the PAC-10. Big Ten stronger, PAC-12 weaker, and Big-12/whatever weaker. All in the short term, I think. Colorado, Utah and Nebraska will greatly benefit in recruiting.

Lewis Grizzard

August 23rd, 2010
2:31 pm

DawgByte, I couldn’t agree more. Playing GT is the same as playing Colorado (who gave tech 49% of their championship in 1990). Because besides the creampuffs like Florida, Alabama, LSU and Auburn that Georgia plays in conference, they pick up teams like OK State (pre-season #9), Arizona St.(pre-season #16), or Boise St. (pre-season #12) out of conference. All this while tech plays power houses like Gardner-Webb, Samford and Army for their out-of-conference games. It’s really embarrassing for UGA fans.

rick

August 23rd, 2010
2:32 pm

seriously though , is UT really gonna pay N.C. not to beat them up! pathetic.

Blue

August 23rd, 2010
2:32 pm

SEC; 80% of OOC games are home, and most are played against tier 2 competition. I understand that you have a tough conference schedule; but I’m not saying you have to play freaking Miami or USC or Wisonsin (who has a pretty darned good track record against the SEC) for your regular season OOC games. But stop playing friggin North Texas State, Wofford, Louisiana/Monroe…and now Buffalo. Just play SOMEONE…

what?

August 23rd, 2010
2:33 pm

They may have been loaded with Big 10 players but there was certainly no shortage of SEC players on both teams. Matter of fact UGA is the ONLY school to boast multiple SB MVPs. And if you look back at SB winning QB’s, many are from the SEC or the South (Peyton & Eli, Favre, Namath, Starr, etc., to name just a couple) FSU, UGA, Miami, Florida, Tennessee….these schools routinely have the most players on NFL rosters year after year.

Shug

August 23rd, 2010
2:36 pm

I can understand (sort of) a school like Wofford ducking a game with North Carolina, but Tennessee??!!! The Vols ought to just go ahead and a sign a sponsorship with Massengale or Summers Eve.

? down ?

August 23rd, 2010
2:37 pm

But when your program is down-and Tennessee’s is way down
thanks to 14 months under the Boy Wonder-
-
you still beat Georgia by a score of 45-19.

what?

August 23rd, 2010
2:37 pm

Rick if you believe all of that, Delbert has some beach front property in Utah for sale!!

bruce mac

August 23rd, 2010
2:38 pm

At the end of the year the SEC will once again have won 6 or 7 Bowl wins including 2 BCS games and the ACC will once again be humiliated on National TV as they get there azz handed to them in there one and only BCS bowl match up. Some things never change, why state the obvious? The ACC is second tier conference and would not even have one BCS game except the rest of the Bowl coalition felt sorry for their pitiful conference.

Delbert D.

August 23rd, 2010
2:38 pm

Delbert D.
June 18th, 2010
7:30 pm

Best colleges to attend to make the Falcons’ roster:

(2 or more players represented)

3 players
————————
Alabama
Cal-Berkeley
LSU
Wake Forest

2 Players
————————
Arizona State
Arkansas
FSU
Iowa
Louisville
Miami-Fl
Missouri
Montana
NC State
Oklahoma
Ole Miss
South Carolina
Stanford
UNLV
Villanova

Otto

August 23rd, 2010
2:40 pm

Delbert Agreed,

Blue,

FCS games played

ACC 12-2
SEC 11-0

what?

August 23rd, 2010
2:41 pm

Hmmmm, looks like a lot of “Southern” schools represented. Thanks Delbert!!