It’s clear – to me, if not to C.J. Spiller and Dabo Swinney — that Georgia Tech is the class of the ACC. But the ACC is often described as the least of the six BCS leagues, and another conference in the neighborhood is regarded as the best. So now, today’s question:
Where would Tech rank in the SEC?
My first inclination is to say the Jackets would finish wherever Mike Slive’s refs got together and decided they should be, but that’s my little joke. Getting serious, I’d say …
Second in the East behind Florida. Third in the West behind Alabama and LSU. Fourth overall.
That wailing you hear are the cries arising from the confluence of North Avenue and Techwood Drive, but hear me out. As good as Tech is — and it is very good — there’s still a difference between the personnel of a top-shelf SEC team and of everyone else. (Ask Jim Tressel.) This doesn’t mean Tech couldn’t up and beat Florida or Alabama or LSU on a given Saturday; it simply means that, on most given Saturdays, talent would prevail.
We’ve seen the difference between the SEC and the ACC three times in this city in the past 15 months. Alabama beat Clemson in the 2008 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic and then whipped Virginia Tech in the 2009 installment. LSU beat Tech 38-3 on Dec. 31, 2008. Three games on a neutral field, three emphatic SEC victories. Anyone who says there isn’t an imbalance between leagues, at least at their respective summits, isn’t dealing in reality.
On the other hand, SEC zealots are wrong to suggest the Jackets would finish far up the track in that famous league. Tech is better than Ole Miss, better than Auburn, better than South Carolina, better than Arkansas … yes, better than Georgia. To be placed below Florida and Alabama is no great failing, for those are two of the three best teams in the land, and to be deemed less gifted than LSU is no demerit, given that the Tigers have lost only to the Gators and the Tide.
(And yes, I have noticed that Tech beat both Mississippi State and Vandy by one more point than did the mighty Gators. Whatever that means.)
Since you asked, I don’t think it’s a question of Paul Johnson’s offense not working in the SEC. It’s an issue instead of the SEC’s Big Three having superior defensive manpower. Nobody else in the ACC has the speed to keep up with Dwyer and Nesbitt and Roddy Jones; certain teams in the SEC do.
OK, there’s my take. Feel free to call me an idiot — pretty much everybody does — but know this: I do speak from observation. I’ve seen Tech and Florida and LSU in person both this season and last, and I saw Alabama in the imposing flesh twice in 2008. And I’m not trying to denigrate the Jackets, who might well be the nation’s fifth-best team. (After Florida, Texas, Alabama and LSU. Though I’m not suggesting LSU, with its two losses, should be ranked ahead of Tech in the polls.) I’m just telling you how I see it.
You’re now free to express yourselves on this weighty matter. Why do I feel you won’t need prompting?
And now, because fair’s fair: Where would Georgia rank in the ACC?