If any of you southerners came here hoping that this was going to be an excoriation of the way that the Securities Exchange Commission operates, you’re in for a world of disappointment. The SEC I’m talking about here is, indeed, the Southeastern Conference, and specifically the cloud of fuckery surrounding it when it comes to football. So strap yourselves in, Tigers, Gators, Bulldogs, and every moron who’s ever yelled “Roll Tahd!” because it’s going to get ugly. For all you guys outside the bottom right of our fair country, grab some popcorn and enjoy. I’m about to piss off half the TFM readership in one column. This should be fun.
Let’s start with how the polling system is biased. Most people will claim that preseason polling is useless and has no real bearing on the game. This is certainly true if you look at polls as indicators of how teams will shake out in the season. However, they’re extremely important in terms of maintaining a ranking. See, it’s much harder to climb the polls as the season goes on if you were underrated going in. Conversely, if you start in the top 10 and play in the SEC, you have to REALLY shit the bed to drop out of the rankings. It’s because the conference itself is set up to allow that.
The SEC is almost like a commune in the way that it mutually weakens itself in order to raise up the whole. (That’s right, SEC fans. I just compared your conference to a hippie, communist retreat.) See, the conference realizes that if it only plays a minimal number of games against the teams that make it up and schedules only powderpuff teams as its non-conference opponents, it can preserve the “competitive integrity” of the conference. It’s easy to write off a loss as acceptable when it’s against “yet another powerhouse SEC team.” You’ll have teams end up with 9-3 and 8-4 records that still easily rank in the top 25, which is ridiculous, given that half of their wins are against garbage teams and their three losses are to “premier” teams within their own conference. The only reason that they’re considered premier is because they started that way in the first place. It’s like a snake eating its own tail, except the tail is a dick, and the snake’s mouth is every ESPN mouthpiece paid to laud the SEC’s deified status.
As of the last decade or so, the SEC has also built its reputation as a defensive powerhouse. No matter who shows up at an SEC team’s doorstep, or how complex that team’s offense, its defense is too overpowering to handle. The SEC’s championship run from 2006 to 2012 was unprecedented and seems to bear this out, right? I’ll admit, it’s definitely impressive, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First of all, it’s not everyone else’s damn fault that THE Ohio State shit the bed–twice–because they’re fucking overrated and play nobody and yet still get the benefit of the polls. Then you have the year Oklahoma got thumped by Florida, which happened to be the year of the controversial three-way tie between OU, Texas, and Texas Tech–the latter two teams were certainly more prepared to face the Tebow-led Gators. Then Alabama beat Texas after Colt McCoy went down with an injury, and with the way that game looked, only the most delusional Roll Tahder would believe that ‘Bama could have pulled that one out if McCoy had stayed healthy. Then Auburn had the miracle drive against Oregon, where they were bailed out by a couple inches of air between Michael Dyer’s knee and the ground. Then Alabama played LSU, which was a win-win for the SEC, in spite of the fact that neither team could score a fucking touchdown. And that’s not even talking about the egregious exclusion of Oklahoma State–its offense would have torn both of those vaunted defenses to shreds.
How do I know that? Because Texas A&M and Missouri have shattered this idea that SEC defenses are unassailable. They’re unassailable, because prior to those two schools’ inclusion in the conference, SEC teams couldn’t pass to save their lives. They acted like ground and pound was their preferred strategy, and not simply a product of the fact that they couldn’t get a real quarterback to save their lives. A&M beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa its first year in the conference, and Missouri won the East its second season in. Their combined record is 35-15 since joining the SEC. Let’s also not forget that neither team was particularly dominant in the Big 12, either. Perhaps the proof is that outside offenses are actually very well suited to beat SEC defenses, provided they have the time to adjust. One game with no previous playing experience versus each other does not proof of superiority make.
But at least the SEC is an NFL talent-producing powerhouse, right? Since the 2007 draft (which mostly means the recruiting class of 2003) there have been only 21 schools that had more than 25 NFL players. Five of them are SEC teams. Impressive. Oh, and five of them are ACC teams. Hmm. Oh wait–the Big Ten has five teams on that list, too. Weird.
Thankfully, it looks like all of this is changing for the better. Oklahoma stomped Alabama in their bowl game last year. Naturally, since Oklahoma is returning its quarterback and most of its starters–while ‘Bama lost a slew of its best players, including its four-year starting quarterback–OU will be ranked higher than Alabama, and Alabama will be appropriately placed in the preseason polls.
Oh wait, Alabama’s ranked No. 2 somehow? And Georgia is 12, even after going 8-5 last year and losing Aaron Murray?
Same bullshit, different year.
Fuck the SEC.
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