If Alabama wins another national championship, as is likely, SEC officials will bang their chest and every other football program in the conference will claim some level of victory. Because . . . Yeah! S-E-C!
But have you looked around lately?
The SEC, whether because of increased parity in recruiting, a drop-off in coaching quality or simply the law of averages, looks more like a conference living off its reputation and history than today’s reality. After No. 1 Alabama, there isn’t another conference team in the AP’s top 25 rankings until 15th ranked Florida.
Here’s the breakdown of the top 14 teams in the AP rankings, which will be pretty close to mirrored in the next college football playoff rankings Tuesday night: The Big Ten, now the power conference in the nation, has four teams in the top 14: No. 2 Ohio State, No. 5 Michigan, No. 6 Wisconsin, No. 8 Penn State.
The Big Ten is followed by the Pacific 12 with three teams (4-Washington, 9-Colorado, 10-USC), the Big 12 with three (7-Oklahoma, 11-Oklahoma State, 14-West Virginia) and the ACC with two (3-Clemson, 12-Florida State) and the MAC with one (13-Western Michigan).
So there you go: The SEC is no better than the MAC.
Not really. That was just fun to type.
Is this permanent? Not likely. The resources of SEC schools is likely to return some football programs to the level of national contenders again. But the Big Ten in particular has been the best conference at hiring coaches in the last four years (Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, Penn State’s James Franklin, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh) and several SEC programs are struggling to get traction.
After unbeaten Alabama, Florida is the only team with as few as three losses. Eight of 14 conference schools have at least five losses. Six (including Georgia) have a negative point differential this season.
The SEC East has been down for years. Florida has won the division the last two years with only average teams. Among the rest of the division’s members — Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Missouri — can we say there’s a great team on the rise there?
So, yes, Alabama may reign over college football again and the SEC will raise the flag. But this is a one-team conference right now.
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