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Friday, January 8, 2010

Maggie Gyllenhaal: The 2009 SEC Football Season

Photo Courtesy: Bob Rossato/SI

The Alabama Crimson Tide won the BCS National Championship last night. Korked Bats would like to congratulate their team, coaches and staff, their fine university and all Bama fans across the country for their record 13th National Title. You'd be lying if you said that isn't one of the most impressive records in sports. They are a darn good football team and very deserving of the crystal football.

Photo Courtesy: Bob Rossato/SI

However, last night was a bittersweet night for the rest of us... The typical college football fans. The fans that long for "next year".

If you are like me, you get up at 8 am on Saturday mornings to watch ESPN's College Gameday, then immediately after, you watch the Big Ten early afternoon games, then you watch the ACC mid-afternoon match-ups, followed by the SEC/Big 12 night game, and then finally, you stay up late to watch the Pac-10 teams finish up.

That's what every fall Saturday looks like for me. I have a weekly sports talk radio show (which 80-90% of our show's content in the fall is college football). So I have to be up to date on college football from ALL across the country.

College football is my drug and every Saturday I overdose.

So if you think this post is coming from some college kid who does some sports blog as a hobby, you're right. But just know that this college kid with a sports blog watches more college football than most people. Probably even you.

So hopefully, you'll read ALL that I have to say, because I never write anything on this site that I can't back up. So let's get to the purpose of this post.

The SEC this year has been a lot like Maggie Gyllenhaal.

From far away, they look really really good, dare I say really hot. But when you get a closer look, you realize, they're not that pretty.

Allow me to explain...

The SEC, this year for the first time ever, produced two undefeated teams going into their conference championship. This speaks volumes for Alabama and Florida. They were able to make it through a tough SEC conference schedule without a loss. But it's not just winning these games that stands out. It's how big they won the games by.

Florida and Alabama, combined, played three regular season games that were closer than 10 points (one of which was Alabama's 9 point win against LSU). That's a two possession game and a convincing win.

Florida and Alabama could beat any team in the country. If not, they can definitely run with any team in the country. So obviously these two schools are above and beyond any other team in the SEC.

But after that the rest of the conference is pretty much a bore. (Sure, there is LSU and Ole Miss who nationally have had respect, but both teams lost games they shouldn't have this season and did not live up to expectations.)

For the sake of my analogy, let's call Florida and Alabama the bone structure, hair, and eyes of Maggie Gyllenhaal. They are the good features of her face. The features that make her look very attractive when looking from far away. Whereas the rest of the conference (this season) are the fat, wrinkles, and the horrible use of makeup that make Maggie Gyllenhaal uglier from up close.

Let's dig deeper...

To start things off, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt are just awful. Vandy had 2 wins this year (Rice and I-AA Western Carolina) and the Bulldogs had 5. They would be considered something horrific about Maggie that makes you throw up in your mouth. Something like M.G. breast feeding in public. Gross.

The rest of the conference is head and shoulders above these two schools. But that's nothing against the SEC. Every conference has bad teams that weigh their conference down. Baylor (Big XII), Indiana (Big Ten), Washington State (Pac-10), Duke (ACC), Louisville (Big East), just to name a few. They're the bottom feeders. In this league, they're primarly the people who chant "SEC, SEC, SEC" the loudest when really they have had nothing to contribute but wins for the successful schools. That's why I am not even going to include them in my argument.

So when you take away those two schools, the rest of the conference is bowl eligible. That's right, the rest of the conference had at least 6 wins. That is pretty impressive. It's "hot", if you will. But once you take a closer look, it doesn't seem all that attractive. (The Maggie Gyllenhaal Effect)

Let's begin with the non conference schedules of these teams.

The SEC's non-conference schedule is easier than peeing your pants. The bowl eligible teams of the conference (everyone but Vandy and Miss St.) played 4 non-conference games against USA Today Top 25 ranked opponents. Ten of the twelve SEC schools scheduled a I-AA (or FCS) school. Ole Miss scheduled two I-AA schools. Not only that but these schools are scheduling the worst of Division 1. According to Sports Illustrated, the rankings of the non-conference games of the SEC are 93, 98, 102, 106, 107, 109, 110, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 119, and the worst, 120. (There are only 120 teams in Division 1/FBS)

(I will admit, Georgia did have one of, if not the, toughest schedule in the country. So Georgia, you are excused from this easy non-conference part of the argument.)

With the lack of difficulty outside your conference schedule, you have to assume you can chalk up 4 wins per team. So from there, each team only needs 2 wins within the conference to obtain bowl eligibility. So having 10 of 12 bowl eligible teams doesn't seem all that special anymore.

Let's now look at the bowl season.

The bowl season is a time of year when you are more easily able to determine which teams/conferences reign superior over others. A time when the SEC usually flexes their muscles with big wins which equate to a great bowl record...

The Music City Bowl
Kentucky (7-5) loses to Clemson (8-5), 21-13.

The Independence Bowl
Georgia (7-5) dominates Texas A&M (6-6), 44-20.
(Alright, once again, Georgia, you may be excused.)

The Chic-Fil-A Bowl
Tennessee (7-5) gets dominated by #11 Virginia Tech (9-3), 37-14.

The Outback Bowl
Auburn (7-5) barely beats Northwestern (8-4), 38-35 in Overtime
If you remember, Northwestern missed a field goal to win the game with no time remaining in regulation. If that kick goes through, Auburn loses to a Big Ten team.

The Capital One Bowl
#12 LSU (9-3) loses to #13 Penn State (10-2)

The PapaJohns.com Bowl
South Carolina (7-5) gets beat soundly by UConn (7-5), 20-7
SC scores on their final drive to save being shut out by a Big East school.

The Cotton Bowl
Ole Miss (8-4) pulls away from #19 Oklahoma State (9-3), 21-7
With the score tied 7-7 going into the fourth, Ole Miss pulls out the win off of six 4th quarter turnovers by Okie St.

The Liberty Bowl
Arkansas (7-5) squeaks by East Carolina (9-4), 20-17.
Much like the Outback Bowl, ECU has not one, but two chances to win the game if they don't miss two field goals within the final two minutes of regulation. ECU plays in Conference USA.

These bowl games do not scream dominance. They do not scream America's best conference. If these bowl taught us anything about the SEC, it's that they are nothing special. Just like every other conference.

I've heard some SEC fans say that in nearly every SEC bowl game, the SEC team is paired up with a higher ranked team. For the most part, that is true. But then again, that is true EVERY year, not just this year. And in years past the SEC has won these games. A lot of times, pretty soundly with no late game pressure. So what is the excuse for this year?

Having Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, Arkansas, and/or Auburn fans bragging after Alabama's National Championship about how "dominant the SEC is" is like an Orioles fan bragging about the Yankees winning the World Series because they come out of the AL East. Or a Sacramento Kings fan bragging that they come from the Pacific Division in the Western Conference, the same division that the NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers come from. It's like former Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler bragging that he is attractive, just because his daughter, Liv, is beautiful.

It's irrelevant.

Florida and Alabama are the best. There is a big drop off for the rest of the conference. Granted, LSU and Ole Miss are good but nothing more and the rest of the conference was mediocre this season.

So who is the best conference this year?

I don't think there was one. Sparsity obviously spread amongst the country this season. The Big XII, ACC, and SEC were down. The Big Ten and Pac-10 were way up. The Big East... Well, the Big East was the Big East. The Mountain West proved through bowl season that they are a force to be reckoned with (their only loss was TCU in the Fiesta Bowl).

This season was a weird one and I can honestly sit here and tell you that I don't think there was a conference that could call themselves the best conference in 2009. And even if there was one, it's not saying much.

I know I am going to get some heat for this post. That's fine. All I ask is that you do two things before you comment/berate me for writing this:

1. Read the ENTIRE post. Don't skim it. This isn't 7th grade summer reading.

2. Know what I am arguing in this post.


Number 2 is a tricky one. People are going to jump all over me over irrellivant topics/arguments. I go to the University of Missouri. Our football team got spanked by Navy. That's right, Navy. It was embarrassing as a fan. I'd be lying if I said anything else.

However, I'm not arguing that Missouri could beat anyone in the SEC. (Although they are 4-0 against the SEC since 2005 with an average margin of victory of 20 points... But I'm not arguing that.)

I'm not arguing that the Big 12 is better than the SEC. The Big 12 was down this year. In other years, I would of had more of an argument. But I'm not saying the Big 12 is the best conference in college football. They're not.

I'm not even arguing the fact that the SEC HAS been the best. They were. Especially in 2007 and 2008. And heck, having a team from your conference win the National Title the past four seasons is pretty dang impressive.

What I'm arguing is that the SEC is not the clear cut best conference in football this year like they have been in years past. Despite having Florida and Alabama, the rest of the conference isn't strong enough to be donned the best conference. If arrogant SEC fans took their blinders off and looked at the overview of the conference this season, maybe they would see that.

So maybe you think this argument is Stranger Than Fiction, but let's be honest there weren't as many Happy Endings this season. But lucky for the SEC, they were able to have The Dark Knight bail out their career this year. Donnie Darko. (I wanted to work that movie in somehow)

Now, with that being said and the season ending last night... Let the countdown for August 2010 and brand new college football season begin!

Gosh, I love this sport.


7 comments:

Tyler said...

This all comes down to conference pride. Unfortunately for fans of every other conference, SEC fans have A LOT of pride.

As far as conference domination goes...

If the Big Ten had two teams win BCS bowl games (one before halftime) I would say that the Big Ten was a dominate conference. Not because of what they were able to do top to bottom but because of what their two best teams were able to accomplish. The lesser teams in that conference should take pride in those BCS wins but those wins don't make them a dominate conference.

The SEC was down this year. Alabama and Florida were able to find success because they each had a key leader who stepped up and made plays consistently. The rest of the SEC didn't have that. Ole Miss struggled because their QB struggled. And it could be even worse for the SEC across the board next year.

BUT, the biggest argument for SEC dominance is not what happened this year, it's the 5 National Titles in the last 7 years (outscoring opponents by a total of 71 points). Consistency is key.

In a nutshell:

The best team in the SEC could consistently beat any team in the nation. I'm glad Snead is entering the draft. I was hoping the PAC 10 would do better in their bowls and not have the only team that DIDN'T SCORE. I was frustrated that Pony (I mean, Colt) got hurt. Tebow would have gone back in. The SEC needs to schedule some games with the Mountain West. +1 playoff.

Anonymous said...

From Tyler:
"If the Big Ten had two teams win BCS bowl games (one before halftime) I would say that the Big Ten was a dominate conference."

The Big Ten DID win two BCS bowl games...

Tyler said...

Also, the orange bowl doesn't count.

Stu said...

I like the comparison with an Orioles fan bragging about NY winning the Series. I see countless statuses about how great the SEC is from UT, Auburn, Ole Miss, etc. fans...get a life

Anonymous said...

Since your conference didn't win the NC, lets act like we don't care about conference pride Big 12 and Big 10 fans. Cause you would all be saying the same thing if you dominated like the SEC. The SEC will be much better next year. Young teams, and unfavorable match ups led to a bad bowl season. Can't dominate every year.

Anonymous said...

you, my friend, are incredibly ignorant.
The SEC dominated.

you had to use words like... "IF that kick went through, Auburn would have lost" and "Ole Miss PULLS out a win" and "ECU had two CHANCES."

case in point: SEC only lost 3 of their bowl games. Auburn deserved the win, Georgia deserved a win, Ole Miss deserved the win, and Arkansas deserved the win.

Florida absolutely creamed Cincinnati and Alabama creamed Texas.

but here is where you miss a huge part of the story...
May I remind you though, that Alabama "squeaked" by Auburn and Florida "squeaked" by Arkansas.
The SEC was competitive within itself this year and since you are singing the praises of Florida and Alabama, and commenting on the "barely wins" of the SEC wins then you must also be aware of the "barely wins" that Alabama and Florida had this year.

War Damn Eagle. Go Dawgs. Roll Tide. Geaux Tigers. Gater Chomp.
etc.

Anonymous said...

Not sure where to post this but I wanted to ask if anyone has heard of National Clicks?

Can someone help me find it?

Overheard some co-workers talking about it all week but didn't have time to ask so I thought I would post it here to see if someone could help me out.

Seems to be getting alot of buzz right now.

Thanks

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