If the title wasn’t clear enough, let me be crystal: if Al-Qaeda miraculously fielded a competitive, college football team to start the 2014 season, and if its administration somehow threw a bunch of money at Kim Jong-un to table his craziness crusade and coach these gridiron terrorists, I would be legitimately torn on whether I’d pull for Al-Qaeda or for any SEC football team that lines up against it, even harmless Kentucky. I’d likely lean toward Al-Qaeda, simply because I tend to support the underdog, and those terrorist training camps pale in comparison to that of the physically demanding college football player’s. After a diligent security screening and IED pat-down, let Al-Qaeda take the field and put up a fight against its SEC counterpart. May the least dishonorable regime win.
I “throw the remote across the room when Mississippi State beats a non-conference team” hate the SEC. It’s bad. And I should be embarrassed. I pure, straight hate the SEC, but goddammit, do I respect it. I respect the Southeastern Conference enough to represent them in a counter response to my cohort’s article yesterday, “Why The SEC Is Bullshit.” You want to know what else I hate? Myself, for defending this evil conference. Fuck the SEC. Fuck me.
Knox brings up preseason polling and the predetermined, built-in advantage that SEC teams have before the first ball of the season is snapped. He’s right–they are given preseason favor over teams from outside the conference with similar abilities and/or previous season résumés. Underrated teams have a more difficult time climbing the polls than top 10 teams do with sustaining their positions. Here’s the thing, though: they’ve earned that respect. Is it fair that 24th-ranked Whogivesafuck State would match up well with an eighth-ranked SEC West team? No, it’s not really “fair.” But when that eighth-ranked SEC team has a similar previous season record as Whogivesafuck State–against superior, in-conference competition–AND it handily won last season’s bowl game at a neutral site, the ranking is justifiable.
Speaking of bowl games, let’s take a look at the SEC’s bowl records over the last 10 years. The general idea of bowl games is to match two teams from different conferences that are similar in abilities.
2011/2012: 6-3 (One loss was to a conference opponent, when LSU fell to Alabama in the BCS National Championship.)
Over a 10 year span, the SEC has a combined bowl record of 55-31, and it never dipped below .500 in any given season. That, assholes, is impressive. It also provides quantitative evidence that SEC teams play a superior brand of football than other conferences. Note: I could have left off the ’04 and ’05 seasons to make my numbers look prettier, but eight is too arbitrary. Ten it is.
The next point regards the notion that the SEC is so good and deep that conference losses are written off as “Just two heavyweights beating up on each other–someone had to lose, right?” Well, yeah. That’s basically right. The SEC is talented (look at recruiting rankings and NFL drafts for evidence). The SEC is deep (look at its recent bowl records). SEC teams do play rather pedestrian non-conference games, but SEC blowhards defend these gimmies by saying their conference games are all so tough that they deserve a few layups. It’s a semi-hollow argument, but I’d say the same shit if I was an Alabama fan. The SEC West is downright brutal. Getting maximum effort from your team for 12 games straight is a monumental task. Alabama needs the week two Florida Atlantic and week three Southern Miss games to stress-fuck and clear its head before taking on Florida in week four (bad example currently, but UF is usually a very tough team).
Should Arkansas be penalized in the rankings for losing to LSU, ‘Bama, UGA, and Auburn as much as Southern Cal should be for losing to Colorado, UCLA, ‘Zona, and Oregon State? No. Clearly not.
While Knox acknowledges that the SEC’s national title run from 2006 to 2012 was unprecedented, he seems to gloss over just how incredible this accomplishment truly is. In 2013, there were 124 FBS teams in the country. Of those 124 teams, only 14 of them belonged to the SEC. And for SEVEN years in a row, the national champion came from that 14-member conference. I don’t buy the “ball bounced their way that game,” or “_____ should have been in that game instead of _____,” or ” it took a miracle drive to win,” or “if not for that injury” arguments. They’re weak and circumstantial. After the dust settled, those SEC teams were in those games, and they won them, SEVEN FUCKING YEARS IN A ROW. And hey, I was in the stands when Colt McCoy went down in the first quarter against Alabama. It was brutal. Had he stayed in, would Texas have won? I believe so. Does it matter? No, not one bit. McCoy went down and Texas lost, fair and square. The history books will reflect that. It hurt, but that’s football.
His next point is about Texas A&M and Missouri’s early success in the SEC. Texas A&M has been a perennial dumpster in the Big 12 since the ’90s. Mizzou had some success, although it has very little hardware to show for it. This is the one point I have difficulty countering. Their success has me somewhat baffled. Was Manziel just that good? Did he take a Big 12 doormat and turn his team into a formidable SEC power all by himself? The 2013 and 2014 NFL Drafts say that A&M actually had some really impressive, top-tier talent on that team. Perhaps the Aggies’ talent finally peaked after settling into its new, southeastern home. Maybe its success all came from Manziel’s right arm. Maybe it was an anomaly, and A&M’s about to be hot garbage again. I honestly don’t know. The SEC East had a pitiful year (by SEC standards) in 2013. South Carolina was good. Georgia was average. Then there was 50 feet of dogshit after that. We’ll call Mizzou’s 2013 SEC East title a product of bad SEC football. Mizzou was the best team in the shitty half of the country’s premier conference, which is still respectable.
Thanks to FSU, the SEC squawking is down a few decibels right now. I expect it to pick up soon, however, because the season begins in less than a month and the SEC will once again return to its dominant form on the field. Just as Wes Mantooth–after placing behind the Channel 4 News Team in the ratings and losing to them in the back alley brawl where Brick killed a guy–respects Ron Burgundy, I respect the SEC.
I still fucking hate it, though.