VINDICATION – that’s the word that is stuck in my mind. Vindication.
I feel like a preacher in the pulpit today, and I have been trying to formulate how best to say what I have to say because now the entire world can see what has been flying under the radar in the football world for so long.
And I guarantee that what I’m about to say will make you want to think about the landscape of college football.
So as we all know, on January 9, 2017, Clemson did what many experts thought impossible: they beat Alabama. Now, from an objective standpoint, this shouldn’t surprise anyone. By the statistics, Clemson is a fantastic team. They lead the nation in offensive yards. My only criticism was always in their defense which is good but is a risk and reward defense.
I will admit, I had my doubts about Clemson through the first half of the season. Their play was shaky and the results closer than they should’ve been against teams they should have handily beaten. And then they lost to Pittsburgh- a well fought game by both teams, but it woke Clemson up. From then on out, it was pure dominance all the way to the NCAA Championship game.
In terms of the talent, coaching, and gameplay, Clemson would be the clear favorite in a game against Alabama- who struggled all year in terms of offense and had some coaching shake-ups at the end of the season. In all realities this result shouldn’t have surprised anyone. But Clemson has shown us something that has been becoming apparent for years that no one has wanted to admit…
…the SEC is dying.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. ESPN has yet to admit it, but this bowl season has finally given us the data to back this up. Here are the cold, hard facts: including the two playoff games for Alabama, the SEC is 6-7 in bowl games. Compare this to the ACC, who went 9-3 in bowl games, or the Big 12 or Pac 12, 4-2 and 3-3 in their bowl games respectively.
What do we see here? Sports reporting has been WRONG. All the years of bashing the ACC especially along with the Big 12 and the Pac 12 as illegitimate conferences or somehow unable to compete with the old boys in smoking jackets at the SEC or Big 10 is WRONG. The malarkey about the Power 5 is dying, and the supposed dominance of the SEC has been proven WRONG by every conference that the media has downplayed and the entire football world.
After the game, I was on my Twitter when I noticed a tweet about this very subject (pictured below)…
I LOVE THIS TWEET even though I disagree with some of the rankings.
But here’s what I do agree with and what you need to know…
The SEC has only been represented by Alabama in the last few years.  Florida is the picture of inconsistency, Georgia disappointing as always, and the rest of conference prestigiousness rotated amongst inconsistent teams depending on whom you can beat in the low echelons of the SEC like Ole Miss, Miss State, Auburn, and Tennessee. And I know what SEC fans are saying- “It’s a highly contested conference.” “Other conferences aren’t on our level.” “Look at all our national titles.”
But none of this is true.  Let me prove it.
1. “Highly Contested Conference”
In order to be considered a “highly contested conference,” you have to have an equally built conference.  Take for example the ACC.  Long called a weak conference in football, people have failed to realize the diversity of playing styles in the ACC.  So when you get to bowl season, there are rarely undefeated ACC teams.  Most are in the range of 6-6 to 9-3 simply because the conference is so equal that a team like Clemson can lose to Pitt and then Pitt lose to Miami who then loses to FSU who loses to UNC who loses to NC State who loses to Boston College and the list goes ON and ON.  What this shows us is that the diversity of play makes the ACC a very tough conference to navigate- which only makes teams like Clemson so impressive.
Meanwhile, look at the SEC.  A whole HALF of the conference was 8-4 or less with Alabama undefeated.  The other half of the conference was 9-3 to 4-8.  When the title was contested, Florida didn’t even stand a chance against Bama, and neither would Tennessee have had a shot either.
Then look at these teams that qualified for bowls. Seven of them were 7-5 or 6-6.  And in the total vs. AP Top 25, the SEC is 33-38 this season.  9 of those wins and one loss was Alabama.  Therefore, the SEC minus Bama is 24-37.  In bowl games the SEC was 1-4 vs. the ACC, 1-2 vs. the Big 12, and even 0-1 vs. South Florida from the American Conference.
Now before people start to try and prove me wrong with the comparison of the Big 10, I already know and I’ve been saying it for years that the Big 10 is one of the most imbalanced conferences I have ever seen.  But the point here is to show that this tweet that I saw has been the real truth.  Alabama has been the sole consistent member showing a power in the SEC, and Clemson dethroning the supposed National Champions Alabama has shown us that the SEC is not dominant.
“Not on our Level”
Now you’re all asking, who is the best conference? You won’t hear the SEC or ESPN say it. According to the SEC, the SEC is doing great.
The answer is simple: the ACC.
The reason: John Swofford.  He has made great choices in athletic programs, and each program has worked hard to gain the amount of success each has attained. An evenly built conference with a 9-3 in bowl season which is 75%.  That’s unheard of.
The Pac 12, long looked down on by other conferences, posted a 3-3 in bowl games with several great showings by USC, Utah, and Stanford and one close loss by Washington State.
The Big 12 has struggled in the last decade with the constant realignments and yet retains a very competitive setup with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Baylor, and many other decent teams. Posting 4-2 in bowl season was a great showing for them- especially for the four teams that won.
The Big 10 has struggled with a disarranged league.  This year was actually the best it has been in years, and yet the league still had a horrible showing in bowl games going a mere 3-7 in bowl games. They are the only “Power 5” conference that did worse than the SEC.
“Look at our National Titles”
Yeah- the titles… ’06 & ’08 Florida, ’07 LSU, ’10 Auburn, and Alabama in ’09, ’11, ’12, and ’15.  But notice that since 2010 no team but Bama has won a national title in football.  Now, Alabama hasn’t even won in two years while the rest of the league is posting an abysmal 5-6 record in bowls.
Folks, here’s the bottom line:
Was the SEC great? Yes.
Did they win titles? Yes.
Are they now? No. The ACC has taken the initial spot in the college football world followed by the other leagues that were downtrodden for so long by the uppity’s in the college football world at ESPN, the Big 10, and the SEC.  Now the “new guys” have turned the scales on the “old guys” and taken the preeminence in football.
Could the SEC be a great conference again? Of course they could, but they would need to try and out-recruit, out-play, and out-everything other conferences.  Riding the coattails of your past for future success is just one of the worst things a conference, team, or- even on the individual level- a person could do. Alabama’s loss just proves how low the conference has sunk and indeed…died.
Please share & comment! Tell me your thoughts on the current landscape of college football, post questions, and hear current sports news here on and at my Twitter (@JBKubasko_SBS).


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