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

Tide Rising

August 23rd, 2010
10:14 pm


Georgia did in fact back out of a return trip to UCLA. Supposedly it was because UCLA couldn’t guarantee set number of tickets sold or a set number of tickets upon which the gate receipts would be split. I’m not really sure the reason but a dawg buddy of mine told me once. It had something to do with tickets sold and not the allotment Georgia was to receive. Who cares anyway if it was back in the 80s?

Beast I’m with you on the troll that posts the same drivel every day about Richt using 7 or 8 different handles. This guy is just plain nutty with a stalker type mentality- he has already deified Mark Richt.Best thing to do is ignore him. I just acknowledged to him one day that Saban sucks and that Richt is the best coach in the NCAA and poof- he just disappeared like a genie back to his bottle.

Tide Rising

August 23rd, 2010
10:20 pm


Auburn backed out of the FSU game because sure enough it would be a beatdown and because it just would have bad feelings around the game anyway because of Terry getting fired. Even if AU had been playing at the level FSU was playing at in those days I still think they would have canceled the game just due to the ill feelings with the Bowdens and all.

Alabama asked Penn State to reschedule our series in the mid 2000s. We had just went on the second worst probation ever losing 21 scholly players and we had just played OU back to back and UCLA back to back. It was felt that we would not be competitive with Penn State given the personnel decimated teams we fielded in the early to mid 2000s. Penn State was nice enough to let us out of the contract and reschedule for a time frame when we would be back at full strength.


August 23rd, 2010
11:30 pm

I think it looks bad that the Vols backed out of the UNC series. Hamilton should be canned. Kiffin did some damage but the program had lost its luster before he got there. Unfortunately the Kiffin fallout has made things worse and it may be 2013 before the Vols are contenders again. It’s too bad as UT has a great tradition and very passionalte fans.

I have to admit the ACC looks like it will be a strong league this season. I don’t think there is a dominating team though to make it to the BCS title game.

There has been so much on this board about who is ranked where and who did or didn’t get votes. All of that is meaningless now. I believe there will be some major surprises and there will be some who the so called experts have ranked who will be big dissapointments.


August 23rd, 2010
11:44 pm

Preseason rankings are fairly meaningless. They reflect the previous season + guesswork.

It won’t be long now before we get to find out who’s really got what. I’m ready!

David Granger

August 24th, 2010
12:26 am

I’m an SEC fan, so anything I say has to be viewed through that prism. But one thing that makes me proud of the SEC is that the conference still shares revenue equally, and you don’t see the big “Football Factory” schools…who often bring in the most revenue…bitching about it. The Big 12 does not share revenue equally…and even then Texas complained. UT seems to think that, since they bring in a lot more revenue than, say, Iowa State…then to hell with the rest of you pissant schools. So now the Big 12…over a barrel…is going to let Texas keep the lion’s share of its income.
You wouldn’t see Alabama or Tennessee or Florida or Georgia or LSU complaining and bitching about Vanderbilt and Mississippi getting an equal share. And I’m proud of our conference for keeping it that way.


August 24th, 2010
2:22 am

Amazing new online stores just launched

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August 24th, 2010
2:39 am

Tony Blowhart, what is this crap you perpetuate that the ACC is DEEP ?

“We” can argue who is the Best Conference all day long Tony Blowhart ?

No sir.

Only you can make a fool of yourself with your HOMER statements annually about the ACC because you grew up in North Carolina long before there was even an ACC.

You have got to be kidding that we should please follow you on Twitter.

ACC 12-15 record last season against other BCS Conference opponents.

SEC 15-8 record last season against other BCS Conference opponents.

In the last 6 years, half a dozen, The SEC has Won 4 National Championships in a ROW and frankly 5 of the last 6.

The ACC has 0 and has averaged for the highest ranked team in the Final AP Poll, OUTSIDE the Top 10 at # 11.


August 24th, 2010
3:01 am

Tide Rising and Beast, the Wannabe Christian who deifies Coach Richt as the 3rd best college football coach in this the history of football or the 7th best, you are welcome to agree with him all you want so that poof he goes back into his genie bottle.

For 1, I will always read his posts, take his points which were originally written by Chris Low 5 years ago when Coach Richt won The SEC Championship in 2005 to END HIS RUN in coaching forever, and point out to him as even he admits that he “EXTRAPOLATED” that story by Chris Low to today by changing it updating it but leaving the points then as true today. They ARE NOT.

He admitted it to me.

The Strategy that WORKS is to tell him he is full of B.S. when in fact since his last trip even to The SEC Championship Game was 2005 and since this is now 2010 with 2011 facing the loss after this 2010 season of 15 seniors and 4-5 juniors all starters, that Coach Richt TODAY finds 18 teams he does NOT have more wins than over the last 4 years.


We should prey upon on opponents, not pray.

His name is patrick


August 24th, 2010
3:36 am

The SEC has to be the best conference! Just look at the weak Lil OOC teams that are beating down the SEC’s door to get KILLED and pick-up a paycheck.


August 24th, 2010
4:04 am

Coach Richt is 17-19 vs Top 25 Final AP Poll teams the year he played them.

Why lie and say he lost 2 of 3 games against them ?

He has lost 2 of 3, actually worse than that, of games against Top 10 Final AP Poll teams with 0 victories in ANY bowl game ever against all of those teams, and Coach Richt has Lost 8 of 11 games against Top 10 Final AP Poll teams in his entire tenure, now starting year 10.

Also, you say that Coach Richt has been beating weak-sisters. Really ? Then, why has Coach Richt LOST to eight (8) teams in 9 years who ended the season, even with their victory over UGA, NOT RANKED in Top 25 Final AP Poll ?

Look at The SEC East for example over the last 4 years. There is 1 Opponent for UGA over this timeframe, yet Coach Richt is 10-10 vs SEC East over the last 4 years. At HOME, 3-4 LOSING RECORD vs SEC East the last 4 years. You want to try to explain to me, just WHO IN THE HELL has been a great team for UGA at HOME in The SEC East the last 4 years ?

I didn’t think so. We will have a great year this 2010 season at 12-2, but then after this season, we lose 15 seniors and 4-5 juniors, so 2011 will be right back to finding AGAIN 18 teams whom Coach Richt does NOT have more wins than, the same 18 teams whom Coach Richt does NOT have more wins than over the last 4 years coming into this 1-year window.


August 24th, 2010
4:54 am

The ACC has NO great team. NONE.

Over the last 6 years.

6 years in a Row, the ACC has NO great team.

When your best team is ranked OUTSIDE the Top 10 Final AP Poll, you are NOT BALANCED, you are instead a conference with NO great team, EVER.

The SEC in 2004 six years ago 2 in the Top 10 Final AP Poll

The ACC in 2004 six year ago had 1 and they were # 10.

The SEC in 2005 five yrs ago had 3 in Top 10 Final AP Poll

The ACC in 2005 five yrs ago had 1 and they were # 7

The SEC in 2006 four yrs ago had 3 in the Top 10 Final AP Poll

The ACC in 2006 four yrs ago had 0 & top-ranked ACC was # 18

The SEC in 2007 three yrs ago had 2 both # 1 and # 2

The ACC in 2007 three yrs ago had 1 and they were # 10

The SEC in 2008 two yrs ago had 2

The ACC in 2008 two yrs ago had 0 & top-ranked ACC was # 15

The SEC in 2009 last year had 2 both # 1 and # 3

The ACC in 2009 last year had 1 and they were # 10

Average finish for the top-ranked ACC team over last 6 yrs is # 11

Average finish for The SEC top-ranked team is NC 5 of the 6 yrs

Yeah, you can really argue that Tony Blowhart, pan-handling to the ACC fans (both of them)


August 24th, 2010
4:55 am

This does not make the ACC more balanced, what it makes the ACC is IRRELEVANT.

Moreover, there has only been 1 ACC team the last 6 years who has been any good whatsoever, Virginia Tech.

Virginia Tech. Who the hell follows Virginia Tech ? No one because they average a ranking over these last six years WAY OUTSIDE of a HOST of MORE BALANCED SEC TEAMS.

Over the last half a dozen years now today, only 1 ACC team has been any good at all Virginia Tech, and they have been NOT GREAT ANY YEAR.

That’s a balanced conference ?

Or, that is a lousy conference ?


You LOSE your games to all the other BCS Conferences

You LOSE your bowl games to other BCS Conferences

You do NOT have ANY team ranked in the Top 10 even

You cannot recruit

You do NOT send your players to the NFL

You have NO ONE who attends your games

You have NO ONE who follows your “teams”

You LOSE your bowl games

You do NOT get ranked highly


August 24th, 2010
4:56 am

You play weak schedules

You are no fun to watch

You have the worst TV ratings of any conference

You have no school EVER on the Top Party School List

Going to your “games” is a waste of time with no 1 there

Your Conference CHUMPionship is BLOODY JOKE

SECond to NO ONE especially the itty-bitty schools of ACC

You are too spread out and nobody cares nobody bothers

You are NOBODIES with 1 NOBODY who is the best of your entire ragtag group of NOBODIES.

Every year, you come in here and tell us what you are going to do

Then, DON’T.


August 24th, 2010
5:02 am

6 years ACC has had 4 Top 10 Final AP Poll ranked teams

6 years SEC has had 14 Top 10 Final AP Poll ranked teams

You can argue that Tony Blowhart ?

Good Luck


August 24th, 2010
5:31 am

I’d like to address the AJ-C comment this morning on the Front Page continued on Metro Front Page and then Metro page 4 that the Stimulus Bill statements by Republicans IS TRUE, that it has NOT created jobs, since there are IN FACT over a million LOST JOBS since it was passed by the Democrats.

You MISS the point, AJ-C as per usual – like Tony Blowhart daily.

We were told that it WOULD CREATE JOBS, get America back employed. If instead, 6 goverment workers were HIRED causing the public sector to LOSE 9 jobs, THEN THERE HAS BEEN NO JOBS CREATED.

You “created” 6 government jobs by taxing the HELL out of all of us, especially the small business man who is responsible for job GROWTH.

When you hired the 6 goverment workers, he had to FIRE 9 of his.

This is NOT a barely true statement and your LIES to the contrary MISS THE POINT.

It’s like ALL of Tony Barnhart’s statements on the AJ-C.

They are ALL NOT TRUE.

There isn’t EVEN a doubt about it


August 24th, 2010
5:46 am

UT ducking UNC is the WRONG decision. Have some faith in the program, Hamilton! If they go 0-2 against the ‘Heels so what? At least they are not seen as cowards.

The Vols have been on a backward slide for 2 years. Hamilton blew the way he handled Fulmer, made the all-time worst hire in college football by hiring Kiffin (I said it then, when every UT fan ran out to buy their “It’s Time” t-shirt), and is making Big Orange look Bigger Yellow.

Vol fans – Hamilton is a turd and the cause of all your problems. Your athletic program is dragging the SEC East into the mud. Please fire him and bring some respect back to our half of America’s best conference.

Go Gators!

PS – this is what you get for EVER backing Kiffin. Still can’t believe you fell for that PoS.


August 24th, 2010
6:23 am

2 years of a backward slide ?


Coach Richt has had the higher ranked team than the vols EVERY YEAR since the 1st year when he BEAT the vols in 2001.

vols have NOT BEEN THE SAME SINCE the hob-nailed boot to Verron Hayenes WIDE OPEN in the cut down checkerboard end zone.

That was 9 years ago now this season ckgator

You have ruled the SEC East, a sub-conference of but 1 opponent for UGA, who nonetheless have a LOSING RECORD at HOME vs SEC East teams the last 4 years, losers to the vols 3 of the last 4 years.

In fact, half this time, the vols have BEAT Coach Richt, despite the fact that the vols were the WORSE-RANKED TEAM compared to UGA since this game that changed the face of vols’ football.

The vols ALWAYS played weak schedules, forever. The fact that Florida has ALWAYS played weak schedules too, does NOT make the vols and Florida GREAT.

Because Coach Richt is 2-7 vs Florida, does not mean that the vols have been the better team in The SEC East than UGA 1 SINGLE YEAR of the years after 2001.

You wishing the vols could be good so that Florida is seen as a better team are NOT WASTED ON ME.

The vols suck and you know it, and it has GONE ON SINCE the day of the Hob-nail boot in 2001 this this very day unabated.

By the way, the GPOE only won 1 SEC Championship as the Starting Quarterback for the Crocodiles.

You are FOS

FORTY ONE POINTS to your seventeen points

August 24th, 2010
7:37 am

12-2 get a life.



August 24th, 2010
8:08 am

Wow! Didn’t know UT grads could use numbers and parenthesis like that!

Soy Boy

August 24th, 2010
8:59 am

Whoever says Richt’s record against top 25 teams is 17-19 is wrong. It’s actually 29-19 and a .600 winning percentage, which is one of the best in the country.

Simple Simon

August 24th, 2010
9:03 am

Coahc Richt’ record in his 1st 9 years, BLOWS AWAY Nick Saban’s record in Saban’s 1st 9 years. Comparing Saban’s years 15 & 16, to Richt’s years 8 & 9, is not comparing apples to apples.

Simple Simon

August 24th, 2010
9:13 am

Let’s compare Saban’s 1st 9 years as a head coach to Richt’s 1st 9 years as a Head Coach.

Win %
Saban .638
Richt .769

Top 10 Finishes
Saban 1
Richt 6

Top 3 Finishes
Saban 0
Richt 2

Simple Simon

August 24th, 2010
9:21 am

Richt’s 1st 9 years vs. Bear Bryant’s 1st 9 Years:

Win %:
Bear- .690
Richt- .769

Top 10 Finishes
Bear- 1
Richt- 6

National Championships
Bear- 1


August 24th, 2010
9:28 am

Instead of complaining about the NCAA clearinghouse, how about let’s get some real students into these colleges and then worry about football and other sports later?…They bend the academic standards too much at most D1 schools anyway and I dont know many real students who take a bunch of online high school classes…the kid was taking some legitimate student athlete’s place and it’s good they weeded him out regardless of when they did it.

Speed Racer

August 24th, 2010
12:31 pm

RE: UT v. UNC — Back in the 70’s and early 80’s, Bobby Bowden would play anybody, anywhere to build his program. Now, Dooley is trying to re-build UT. Backing out of UNC does not help. So what if he gets a win over Buffalo and that allows UT to play in Shreveport. Does that help?


August 24th, 2010
12:32 pm

RxDawg, you can be ashamed all you want about UT being in the SEC, but they whipped the Dawgs last year and have actually done a lot of whipping 3 out of the last 4. There needs to be some sort of respect there. After all, Georgia decided to man up a few years ago and play their first non-bowl game out of the south in 60 years. That’s some real ducking.

Judge Roy Bean

August 24th, 2010
1:07 pm



August 24th, 2010
1:21 pm

Simple – you forgot national championships: Saban – 2 Richt – 0. I’d take Saban drunk over Richt anyday.


August 24th, 2010
1:24 pm

Revenue sharing is SOCIALISM!!!!!!!! Pure and simple. Commies!


August 24th, 2010
1:36 pm

Hamilton better hope UT beets Buffalo…Wonder what would happen if UT lost to Buffalo? Knowing his luck, Hamilton gets promoted to UT president…


August 24th, 2010
1:50 pm

UT is scared to play north carolina? Are you serious? I may wear a bag over my head at the UT martin game in shame.


August 24th, 2010
2:39 pm


It’s like I said earlier, whichever conference Richt’s been in, since 1985, the power in college football has shifted to. ACC from 85-00, SEC from 01-09.

Saban didn’t shift power to his conference at Mich St, nor did Meyer at Utah. Richt alone has been the central peg for college fotball conference power shifts for the last 25 years.


August 24th, 2010
2:54 pm

UT Martin has a football team, really?

R Pitts

August 24th, 2010
2:55 pm

You have asked which conference is best. At this point in history, why even ask that question? It is kinda obvious. Maybe it just happens to be the conference that has won 4 national titles in a row. Dumb topic for discussion. Next time, pick some thing a little more challenging and open for debate.


August 24th, 2010
3:11 pm

Best conference? Wherever Coach Mark Richt is.


August 24th, 2010
8:53 pm

Heaping praise on Coach Richt in this, his final season, is a noble undertaking indeed. Too bad Tubby already took that job in Texas…

[...] taking a big step forward this season. Respected college football scribe Tony Barnhart has a blog post today headlined: “SEC, ACC are deepest. But who has best conference?” He breaks down [...]


August 25th, 2010
9:01 pm


September 1st, 2010
10:17 am

Need we even bring this up again? Every year it seems that someone desires to question who the best conference in college football is – and every year the SEC proves who that conference is. And, for the last four years it has done so with a big fat exclamation point.

New Timberland Boots 2010

September 7th, 2010
6:54 am

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