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

Buster

August 23rd, 2010
5:11 pm

UGA is Just Fine–

Thanks for trolling now you can leave.

Back to the tpoic, never noticed just how influential Mark Richt has been for the last 2 decades, good stuff Freddie, you’re a genius man.

Chad

August 23rd, 2010
5:15 pm

Great analysis here…take the pre-season polls to determine “depth” in conferences. Let me know what year the ACC has ever had depth…let alone when they have had depth after the first month of the season…joke.

Freddie

August 23rd, 2010
5:15 pm

ACC wasn’t hot, until Richt got there, SEC wasn’t hot, until Richt got there.

ED

August 23rd, 2010
5:16 pm

Chad,

What in the world are you blogging about–can you try to fit into a conversation?

Game Changer

August 23rd, 2010
5:22 pm

I love to watch Gary Danielson call a football game. The man knows the game.

He says Georgia will be the surprise team in 2010.

http://blogs.ajc.com/barnhart-college-football/2009/08/11/danielson-georgia-will-be-the-surprise-team-of-sec/

KC

August 23rd, 2010
5:35 pm

Boca -My thoughts aren’t delusional as they are accurate. Again, the SEC is a very good conference and, for that matter, UGA has a very good football program in terms of success on the field. I’m not arguing that. I still consider what PJ has done at Georgia Tech a big success. Any rational person would not argue that.

Rear sniffer

August 23rd, 2010
5:37 pm

You can tell a complete moron. They all have dawg or dog in their screen name. Stinkin fools.

Rear sniffer

August 23rd, 2010
5:39 pm

Chad wouldn’t know depth in ANY facet of his miserable life.

Big Tech

August 23rd, 2010
6:09 pm

Tennessee dropped UNC because they know that they can just embarass the pups as usual.

bamaguy

August 23rd, 2010
6:12 pm

I”m trying to follow the logic here. RIcht is responsible for Florida, LSU and Alabama’s success in the SEC?

bob

August 23rd, 2010
6:44 pm

Has the ACC ever won a BCS game?

Coolest in the Clutch

August 23rd, 2010
6:55 pm

Hey Tony,

Is Todd McShay of ESPN and the National Fooiball League one and the same ?

Please tell Doug Roberson of the AJC your answer.

matt

August 23rd, 2010
6:57 pm

The same ACC who only has 2 BCS wins in it’s history is the 2nd deepest conference? I’ll believe that when I see it.

messin with sasquatch

August 23rd, 2010
7:21 pm

by SEC you mean Florida, Alabama, and the pretenders? You get past the first two teams and the dropoff is so bad it stinks.

Gen. Forrest

August 23rd, 2010
7:27 pm

I love listening to the SEC homer trailer-dwellers here. Newsflash for ya— One team does NOT make a good conference!! The SEC has NEVER won anything!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Only individual teams can win. Ok, UF and Bama have been dominant the past 3 seasons (I won’t even bother mentioning LSU because that was a fluke!) — but the rest of the SEC has been mediocre-to-lousy at best, and UF is on the downward slope. It all goes in cycles. The SEC will dominate for a while, then the ACC will dominate for a while, then the Big-12 will dominate, etc, etc. But ya just gotta laugh at the SEC crowd who thinks that their conference is so tough, because it is NOT. Only 1 or 2 teams are tough, the rest are no better than average. But ya’ll just keep on drinking that kool-aid guys. Living on past glory is better than nothing at all, I suppose……………….

17 of 20

August 23rd, 2010
7:32 pm

Florida will have the best defense and that is all I care about.

ACC Fan

August 23rd, 2010
7:33 pm

Tony you will always go with the SEC. That is who pays the bills for you. I would asy the ACC is definatly deeper. Look at the past and see the SEC is a three trick pony (LSU, FL, and ALA). Those guys dominate the SEC. But in the ACC it is anybodys race to win the ACC. Balance is the KEY. Who is a more balanced conference. You have to go with the ACC.

Gen. Forrest

August 23rd, 2010
7:34 pm

Freddie — you mean the same Mark Richt who has LOST 2 of every 3 games he has ever coached against teams that actually FINISH in the top 25???? Ya, nice record for the ‘ol preacher man — until you consider who his wins have been against!

Lewis Grizzard

August 23rd, 2010
7:38 pm

TNdave has selective memory. He counts just the games that are lopsided in UT’s favor. Count the entire decade Dave GA won 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2008. Virtually splitting W/L’s. Stop soap-boxing and just let it lie. Most Georgia people on here were defending Tennessee until you started spouting off. It was mostly ACC people giving you hell for dodging NC. Chill.

CrackDaddy

August 23rd, 2010
7:39 pm

Yea, the SEC is real tough. To wit, Tn whupped the dawg s*** out of UGa. How tough is that?

Gen Neyland

August 23rd, 2010
7:43 pm

Simple answer. Depends on which side of the debate your affections are located.

Topp Dawg : CDD is really starting things out on a fresh foot. His. I wouldn’t fault him whatsoever for marking through all prescheduled OOC games and beginning anew. No big deal. Geez, like it never has happened anywhere before…

Lewis Grizzard

August 23rd, 2010
7:52 pm

Gen. Forest, When exactly has the ACC dominated? I mean, barring FSU (and several of their glory years were pre-ACC), who else has “dominated” in the ACC. Further, how do you come up with the statement that Coach Richt has lost 2 of every 3 games against teams that finish in the top 25. That’s sheer nonsense. And last, if you remember, Mark Richt coached and did the Offensive play-calling in the ACC on every (dominating) FSU team that beat up on the rest of you hangers-on …pretty consistently as I remember.

Lewis Grizzard

August 23rd, 2010
7:54 pm

Uh.. Crackdaddy… Tennessee is IN the SEC.

Lewis Grizzard

August 23rd, 2010
7:57 pm

One more thing Crack, After Tennessee beat Georgia, Georgia ‘whupped’ the ‘dawg s***’ out of your team. So, I’d stick to basketball bragging if I were you. Oh wait… you can’t brag there either.

Bill

August 23rd, 2010
7:57 pm

“The kid shouldn’t find out this late in the game” – I think the NCAA has a lot of work to do and not enough man power to work as well as it wants but it got around to this and uncovered a violation. It’s fair game, Tony. Better now…..than 5,4, or 3 days before the opener too

Lewis Grizzard

August 23rd, 2010
8:08 pm

Nobody talking?

Lewis Grizzard

August 23rd, 2010
8:09 pm

Everybody finished? Okay. I guess everyone said all they had to say so with that… I’ll bid you all Good Night!

Beast from the East

August 23rd, 2010
8:12 pm

Gen. Forrest,
How is UF on a downward slope. They finished the last two years with 13-1 records. 2008 won the BCS. 2009 only loss was to the undefeated national champs and dominated Cincy in the Sugar Bowl. 2010 top 5 pre-season ranking. How is that considered a downward slope? I guess they would have had to win the Super Bowl last year to go anywhere but down.

Beast from the East

August 23rd, 2010
8:15 pm

The ACC has not dominated college football in my lifetime. I will agree that they are one of the most balanced conferences in the country, but dominant? Hasn’t happened and until they start to respresent themselves better in their BCS games, they will not be taken seriously on a national level.

GT VET

August 23rd, 2010
8:15 pm

LOL @RX dog,,yes peanut, dog is spelled DOG…u idiot.try reading (i know its tough for a uga boy)the article instead of making nitwit comments.It said he would sit out a year at East Carolina .Who has the Toughest Conference? We wont know until the end of the season..PERIOD!!The SEC has a hand up at this point,but they also have the likes of Miss,Miss st,Ken,SC,tenn ,ga and vandy,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Ala,Fla,and LSU ARE the SEC..Period.Ga. and GT games are Rival games as is Clemson and SC,but you try and use that as some kind of measuring stick of SEC vs ACC? So I guess that year before last when Ga. was preseason #1..LOL,LOL,GT was REALLY preseason #1.Some kids will never grow up.BUT in the end who freaking cares whos Conference is stronger?? Any of yall getting any money from a strong Conference??Right didnt think so..I am for GT.I could care less about FSU,Clemson,BC or any other ACC team until they play GT.argue on..SEC lies and videotape,You are Right on .as stated Ala,LSU and Fla. are the SEC but look what they do to kids lives to get there……GO JACKETS!!!

Dick Baddour

August 23rd, 2010
8:24 pm

Dear Mike Hamilton,

Thanks for pulling out of our home and home. Please send $750,000 as a certified check to my attention at
Dean E. Smith Center
300 Skipper Bowles Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27514

PS – Don’t bother asking us for a home and home series in basketball. We wouldn’t want to bruise your egos too badly.

Beast from the East

August 23rd, 2010
8:26 pm

Dick Baddour,
Man, that’s cold. Funny, but cold.

Delbert D.

August 23rd, 2010
8:29 pm

Gen Neyland – I did a post about the number of returning starters for Tennessee based on what I could skim from the media guide. The cumulative stats for 2009 PDF do not show starts by player per game like most other school sites. My post is probably is buried so deep in the trash on this blog, it was missed. About how many for the Vols, do you think?

JT

August 23rd, 2010
8:30 pm

Tennessee football=over. They should probably just shut down the school.

Delbert D.

August 23rd, 2010
8:32 pm

GT VET – I’m guessing you are a veteran, not a veterinarian, so thanks, man. Cold War guy, myself, run silent run deep.

RJ

August 23rd, 2010
8:34 pm

Without football, there isn’t much reason for Tennessee to exist. Certainly not an academic powerhouse either.

Paul in RDU

August 23rd, 2010
8:51 pm

what? @2:33 pm
“UGA is the ONLY school to boast multiple SB MVPs”

Oh really??? Ever hear of Tom Brady and Desmond Howard (Michigan)? How about Jim Plunkett and John Elway? Ottis Anderson and Ray Lewis (Miami)? You have heard of Bart Starr and Joe Namath but maybe you didn’t realize they both played at Alabama

Troll detector

August 23rd, 2010
8:52 pm

Where did the Mark Richt is the greatest troll go off to? Bedtime curfew I hope. Today I think he used 7 different handles by someone else’s count.

Brad

August 23rd, 2010
8:55 pm

I doubt Mark Richt pays much attention to the drivel on the AJC and resulting comments.

Tide Rising

August 23rd, 2010
8:57 pm

Paul in RDU,

Dang Paul you zinged that boy with stuff I didn’t even know bout Bama football. I had forgotten about Bart Starr and Namath both winning MVPs.

LHardingDawg

August 23rd, 2010
8:59 pm

Georgia and South Carolina proved who had the best conference. We did’nt even need the big boy’s Florida and Alabama.

Paul in RDU

August 23rd, 2010
9:05 pm

Tide Rising – SB’s I, II and III MVP’s – pretty impressive for former Bama players
People seem to think the NFL began with ESPN but it’s been around a long time.
Heck – I just found some more schools with multiple SB MVP’s – Purdue (Brees and Dawson), Southern Cal (Swann and Allen)

Beast from the East

August 23rd, 2010
9:06 pm

Can’t they ban that guy from posting? He uses like 10-15 different names and talks to himself. Really needs help.

Paul in RDU

August 23rd, 2010
9:09 pm

Beast – Best thing to do with the guy is ignore him.

Beast from the East

August 23rd, 2010
9:12 pm

Yeah, I know. I’m telling you, if I was Richt I’d be worried. That guy has “stalker” written all over him! LOL!

LHardingDawg

August 23rd, 2010
9:21 pm

The Truth 4:48 post – You need to get your facts straight, Georgia beat UCLA 18-8 in 1983 on a nationally televised ABC game. Feel free to check it out on you tube. To show my age, I was there as a new season ticket holder.

Paul in RDU

August 23rd, 2010
9:26 pm

LHardingDawg – I think The Truth’s point is that he claims that UGA backed out of a return game against UCLA. I have no idea whether they backed out of one, but I do know that UGA didn’t play UCLA out there.

Back Door Man

August 23rd, 2010
9:35 pm

Ash, your real name is Ash Hole.

LHardingDawg

August 23rd, 2010
9:36 pm

The only SEC team I can ever recall backing out of a game is Auburn backing out of a game with Florida State. I also remember a lot of Auburn people were really upset. Their sentiment was to play the game, if you win and you might, it helps the program. If you back out, the program hurts. Georgia, to my knowledge, has never backed out of a game.

Jacketman

August 23rd, 2010
10:08 pm

Until some conference can prove otherwise, in football it has to be the SEC…now basketball…well