The duo announcements of Oklahoma and Texas future alignment with the SEC and Southern Cal and UCLA jumping to the Big Ten have sent shock waves through the college football world. Those defections have strengthened two conferences and severely damaged two - though some would say three - other Power 5 conferences.
These moves were followed by a rash of reports of the new pecking order in college football. According to the national sports press, we now have TWO mega/super/power conferences on the top of the hill and then everyone else. But is that number one too many? Yes, the Big Ten is looking slightly more attractive, but the SEC - even without Texas and Oklahoma - stand alone on the gold medal podium.
As far as National Champions are concerned, the SEC has far and away taken home more trophies over the last 10, 20 and 30 years.
|Team||NC 1990-1999||NC since 2000|
|Alabama||1992||2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2020|
|LSU||2003*, 2007, 2019|
|Ohio State||2002, 2014|
|Nebraska||1994†, 1995†, 1997*†|
|Southern Cal||2003*@, 2004&@|
* Split NC
# As a member of the Big 12
† As a member of the Big 8 Conference
@ As a member of the PAC-12
As you can see from the chart above, there is a big disparity in National Championships between the two conferences.
- The SEC has had six different current member schools win NC’s in the last 30 years. SEC teams have won 13 since 2000. Texas and Oklahoma add two more to those amounts.
- The Big Ten has had three different current member schools win NC’s in the last 30 years and one of them, Nebraska, was a part of a different conference at the time. Furthermore, the Cornhuskers have been dreadful since joining the B1G. But more on that in a moment. Big Ten teams have won 2 championships since 2000 and the were both by Ohio State. Add two more if you want to include Southern Cal’s split 2003 NC and the tainted, vacated 2004 trophy.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF
Since the inception of the CFP for the 2014-15 season, three SEC and three B1G teams have made appearances. However, two of the B1G teams have made one appearance and have one loss each. The SEC three have each taken home the top prize.
|4||2||1||Ohio State||Big Ten||3-3|
|1||-||-||Michigan State||Big Ten||0-1|
The SEC is 14-5 in the CFP while the B1G is 3-5.
Oklahoma has had four appearances with no wins. Texas, Southern Cal, and UCLA have yet to make it to a playoff.
SEASON WINS OVER LAST 10 YEARS
The numbers speak for themselves. Top to bottom, the SEC puts out a better product than the Big Ten. If six wins and bowl eligibility is the goal, only two SEC teams are below that threshold as an average over the last ten years, and one of those two has seemingly remedied their ills. Five B1G programs have averaged under six wins a year and none of them appear to be on track to being a national power anytime soon.
Take a look at what each conference is getting in their new additions.
SOUTHERN CAL AND UCLA TO THE B1G
It is quite comical how so many observers see that the Big Ten have picked up two teams from the US’s number two TV market and think all of a sudden the people of that city are going to tune into Big Ten games. First off, the two teams they got are from the same city. Wouldn’t it have been smarter to go after two different markets??
Secondly, Southern Cal football takes a back seat to many other sports in La-La Land and UCLA football is on a stinky Metro Bus, five vehicles back.
Speaking as a person who lived in Tinseltown for ten years, University of Southern Cal graduates/fans are pretty wishy-washy and mostly fair-weather about their football. As for UCLA football, they have close to zero presence in the city. That school has been and always will be a basketball school. As a matter of fact, L.A. is not even a football town. The city went without an NFL team from 1995 to 2015 and the league did not suffer one iota.
The biggest draws are in order the Lakers, Dodgers, and Clippers. Even the two NFL teams are secondary in L.A.
OKLAHOMA AND TEXAS TO THE SEC
While Oklahoma does not have the population of L.A., they love them some Sooners football. They only really have the NBA’s Thunder to compete with for local fandom.
The Longhorns have a plethora of sports teams to compete with, most notably the Dallas Cowboys. However, they have a large rabid - bordering on insane - fan base, as well as the second largest endowment of roughly $31.90 billion after Harvard and ahead of Yale, Stanford, and Princeton.
IT JUST MEANS MORE
Some people make fun of the SEC slogan, but it is so damn true. College football is a part of who we are and so geographically centralized. Other sports - even the defending World Series Champs Braves - are secondary in the Southeast. Up in the Rust Belt, they mostly favor the NFL.
According to a 2018 Gallup poll, college football is the favorite major sport in states of 12 of the 16 to-be SEC schools. Only six home states of Big Ten schools can make that claim.
Just look at all that red side-by-side-by-side on that map. Conversely, the guys up north look like a bag of Skittles.
|South Carolina||South Carolina||CFB|
Medium.com did research on every Power 5 team, every AAC team, every Mountain West team, plus Notre Dame, BYU, and Army for the average number of viewers per week from 2015–19. Below are just the B1G and SEC including the future new additions to each conference.
|1||Ohio State (5.19M)||B1G||5,190,000|
|10||Penn State (2.55M)||B1G||2,550,000|
|15||Michigan State (2.20M)||B1G||2,200,000|
|17||Texas A&M (1.851M)||SEC||1,851,000|
|29||Mississippi State (1.31M)||SEC||1,310,000|
|36||South Carolina (1.07M)||SEC||1,070,000|
[Did you notice that even sorry ass Vanderbilt outdraws the FBS teams that represent the nation’s No. 1 TV market (NYC) in Rutgers and No. 3 (Chicago) in Northwestern?]
The B1G proponents will point to the above graph and proclaim that they have the No. 1 and No. 3 highest viewed teams. But therein lies the problems. They are top heavy. Does Gonzaga's membership in the West Coast Conference make that one of the best basketball conferences?
The SEC numbers are still higher without the two new teams added to each league: Big Ten = 24,278,000; SEC = 27,353,000. So, are we splitting hairs here? Not if you think 3 Million more average viewers per week isn’t a big deal.
WRAP IT UP
Even with out Alabama, the SEC looks better top-to-bottom. To these eyes, the SEC will have nine to eleven teams that will make the league great and one that drags it down. The Big Ten will have seven teams of strength and a bunch of teams that detract or are filled with apathy.
The below is based on IMHO, so feel free to disagree in the Comments section.
|Alabama||Elite of the elite|
|Texas A&M||Good not great|
|Texas||On the Rise|
|Tennessee||On the Rise|
|Arkansas||On the Rise|
|Auburn||In a slump|
|Ole Miss||Can never get over the hump|
|Mississippi State||Scrappy little brother|
|South Carolina||Scrappy little brother|
|Ohio State||Top 5|
|Michigan||Days of yore|
|Penn State||Good not great|
|Southern Cal||Days of yore|
|Wisconsin||Can never get over the hump|
|Iowa||Can never get over the hump|
|Michigan State||Scrappy little brother|
|Nebraska||Five straight losing seasons|
So, let’s stop all this talk about TWO supreme conferences as if they are on equal footing.