SEC Football: The Urban Legend

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When you surf the web for the latest in college football news, it doesn’t take long to stumble upon a fresh dropping of SEC propaganda. The latest offering was contributed by Jeff Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel. His article claims that Florida’s Urban Meyer has surpassed USC’s Pete Carroll in sideline prowess, and crowns him the gridiron king. Yes, elitist have now moved from self proclaimed superiority over teams and conferences to include a competition between coaches.

According to Fowler, Carroll is still riding the wave of 2004 success, using the coach’s inability to escape the “inferior” Pac 10 in the following seasons as an example of his drop in the power ranks. He uses championships and the recent NFL draft to support the strength of the SEC, but the logic is flawed and treads along that familiar path of smoke and mirrors.

Stamping the Pac 10 as “inferior” is the more popular form of degradation, and most common error. The word is spoken easily, but the theory is more difficult to support. SEC and Pac 10 programs have collided 17 times in this BCS era, with the Pac currently holding a 10-7 lead in the series. That’s hardly evidence of inferiority. Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and South Carolina failed to play a Pac 10 program in this period, and joining them is Florida, who hasn’t played a scheduled game west of the Mississippi in the 10 years of the BCS. Contrary to Florida’s appetite for home cooking, Carroll’s troops have claimed victories on the battlefields of Auburn, Arkansas, Nebraska, Virginia, and in biannual visits to Notre Dame.

More deception is displayed in the use of NFL draft numbers. This Sentinel staff member supposedly provides further proof of conference superiority with this assertion:

“The SEC produces the best talent every year, and the best coaches transfer that talent to the NFL draft. Which league had the most players drafted last week? The SEC.”

Most post-draft articles will tell of the 37 players drafted from the Southeastern Conference, which leads all others in total. What’s excluded from the articles and analysis is the 27 SEC players that went undrafted. Only the Big 10 had a higher percentage of players turned away by the NFL. The SEC has 4 more programs than the Big East, and 2 more than the Pac 10, so obviously the SEC class size was larger. But the percentage of those draft eligible players drawing NFL interest was fewer, with 42% of the class rejected.

2009 NLF DRAFT SELECTIONS FROM BCS CONFERENCES

Conference Class size Drafted Undrafted %
Big East 39 27 12 69.23
Pac 10 48 32 16 66.67
ACC 53 33 20 62.26
Big 12 45 28 17 62.22
SEC 64 37 27 57.81
Big 10 53 28 25 52.83

Conference supremists claim USC should have never lost to Oregon State. And out west, we believe Florida should have never lost to Houston Nutt and Ole Miss. But in each case, it happens. That’s why the games are played. The last time Pete Carroll looked across a field and saw Houston Nutt as the head coach, the scoreboard read Trojans 50, Razorbacks 14. This followed the 70-17 paddling Nutt received in Los Angeles.

If I used Fowler’s draft theory, as ridiculous as it may be, 7 of 7 draft eligible players were selected from Oregon State. Only 4 of 7 were selected from Ole Miss. According to his own logic, Oregon State is superior to Mississippi. In fact, in terms of players drafted by the NFL and percentages, the Beavers would be superior to every team on the Florida 2008 schedule, equaling South Carolina in number, and topping the Gators themselves. Are we still willing to play this numbers game?

The author also points to Urban Meyers’ ability to “bounce back” after the upset loss to Ole Miss, insinuating that Carroll lacked the same. The Trojans, like the Gators, followed their only season defeat by winning the remainder of their games. How is that a failure to “bounce back” for one coach, but the ability to do so for another? The only difference is that one program was invited to play in the National Championship game, and the other, also possessing just one loss, didn’t. Field coaches have no control over that situation. The opinions of fashion show judges do.

The SEC has won 4 of the last 6 BCS championship games. In doing so, Florida and LSU both defeated Oklahoma and Big 10 champion Ohio State. Pete Carroll’s National Championships have also come through Oklahoma and a Big 10 champ. In his college coaching tenure, Carroll has never lost to a Big 10 program, defeating all 6 opponents, including 3 conference champions, yet he hasn’t a single crystal ball to emphasize his dominance over that particular league.  The SEC has twiced earned the BCS championship trophy, with consecutive victories over an opponent from that same conference.

Boise State and West Virginia also defeated Oklahoma in BCS bowl games, yet have no national reward to display in their trophy cases to signify the achievement. For years, the public preaching insists that the SEC has the toughest road to the championship game. And if anyone is actually listening to the sermon, please explain to Utah and the Mountain West how their road is paved more easily. It takes 4 quarters of football to win a championship game. It takes at least 42 quarters of subjective opinion to get you there.

I’m not a proponent of conference wars, because without a significant amount of interaction between the powers, any conclusion is nothing more than a guess. But I will come to the defense of others, when one proclaims themselves the “God” of the sport without conclusive evidence to support their stance. Numbers can be skewed to an advantage, while also posing a disadvantage with full figures revealed. Today’s game is a show of parity, and nothing more, which is the story most numbers will tell.  To roll with the words of media representatives, whose primary intentions are to cash in on this highly marketable product, is to surround yourself with the smoke and mirrors of profiting magicians.

Just think, when Meyer was first hired by Florida in 2005, the arrogance of the Southeastern fan base, and sales pitching of network analysts, insisted that he and his offensive system would fail in the “conference above all others”.  Instead, Meyer, like Les Miles and Nick Saban before him, walked in and easily took over.

Has Urban Meyer surpassed Carroll to become the face of college football? That remains open for debate. The faces I see representing the sport aren’t walking the playing surface. If we have to identify the sport with faces, my choice would be minted dead presidents surrounded by numerical figures in four corners. The continual avoidance by the governing bodies to establish and impliment a legitimate method for crowning champions proves money to be the only superior particle of this game.

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~ by Anthony on May 6, 2009.

One Response to “SEC Football: The Urban Legend”

  1. I don’t know if Urban Meyer is the face of College Football but I do know that he is very good at his job. I could say the same thing about SC’s Pete Carroll.

    I think the problem that most people have with the Pac-10 is everybody but SC is average. They think SC is great but the rest not so much; Washington, WSU, Arizona State, Arizona- hardly hard hitters. Oregon is good and Oregon state has their moments but other than that its a weak conference. Why do you think SC has to go out of their way to schedule big OOC opponents? Because their in conference is too weak!

    How many non-SC players were 1st rounders? How many non-SC 1st day picks? Compare that with how many non-Florida SEC 1st round draft picks? How many non-Florida SEC 1st day picks? How many NFL starters were from SEC schools? Franchise players, MVPs, Super Bowl MVPS, Pro Bowlers; the SEC wins all of those as of last year. In the SEC, even lowly Vandy has produced a franchise QB(Jay Cutler).

    The SEC may have had the most undrafted free agents but they also had the most players entering the draft. What you left out is that most all of them signed free agent deals. Sign a free agent is considered a better option than being a 6th or 7th rounder because once the draft gets that late the picks are just as meaningless. You can site the Tom Brady/Terrell Davis examples if you want but those are mainly exceptions to the rule. You are better off being a free agent signee who got to choose his team as opposed to being chosen by a team that you may not fit into.

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