Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The SEC / ACC Debate

I'm not going to sit here and tell you that the ACC is better than the SEC. It's not. However, the dude over at "ACC Football Report" has put together a pretty telling argument based on facts that certainly should knock down the SEC in terms of their national image as by FAR the best conference. At the same time, it casts a stronger light on the ACC than anyone else in the media is willing to do............ all based on facts. I'll pull out the ACC/SEC comparisons, although he ranks all the major conferences:

The first premise is that the best way to rank conferences is to look at how they fared against teams outside the conference. So with that:

(Data taken from story above)
1 First, non conference records:
SEC...40-8 (.833)

On the surface, the SEC looks dominating. But you have to go deeper:

2. Combined records of non-conference teams played
ACC...253-243 (.510)
SEC....229-230 (.499)

So the records of the teams played by the ACC is slightly better than the SEC, but not by a mile

3. Percentage of non-conference games played on the road
ACC...20/48 (41.7%)
SEC...8/48 (16.7%)

Ok, the first MAJOR difference. The ACC played by far more road non-conference games than any other conference in the country and the SEC played the fewest of any. You can see the full chart in the story above, but the bottom-line is that the SEC was not willing to travel away from home to play non-conference games. The ACC clearly showed a willingness to take risks and travel.

4. Percentage of non-conference games played against BCS opponents
ACC...22/48 (45.8%)
SEC...14/48 (29.2%)

Another stark contrast. The ACC not only went on the road more than any other conference to play non-conference games, they also played more "quality" opponents while doing it. The ACC faced more BCS opponents than any other conference in the country. The second closest was Big East at 15 games. Only the Big 12 faced fewer BCS foes than the SEC.

5. Conference record against BCS opponents
ACC... 11-11 (.500)
SEC... 7-7 (.500)

So it's a dead heat except than the ACC put their necks on the line more often.

6. Details of non-conference wins / losses:

ACCWINS- Connecticut (@Virginia), @Rutgers (Maryland), Texas A&M (@Miami), @Colorado (Florida State), vs.Alabama (Florida State), @South Carolina (Clemson), @Vanderbilt (Wake Forest), @Northwestern (Duke), Pittsburgh (@Virginia), @Notre Dame (Boston College), @Notre Dame (Georgia Tech)

ACCLOSSES- West Virginia (@Maryland), Georgia (@Georgia Tech), @LSU (Virginia Tech), @Oklahoma (Miami), @Florida (Florida State), @USF (North Carolina), Connecticut (@Duke), South Carolina (@North Carolina), Nebraska (@Wake Forest), Louisville (@NC State), @Notre Dame (Duke)

SECWINS- Virginia Tech (@LSU), Florida State (@Florida), @Georgia Tech (Georgia), Oklahoma State (@Georgia), Kansas State (@Auburn), Louisville (@Kentucky), @North Carolina (South Carolina)

SECLOSSES- Missouri (@Mississippi), @West Virginia (Mississippi State), Clemson (@South Carolina), USF (@Auburn), Wake Forest (@Vanderbilt), vs.Florida State (Alabama), @California (Tennessee)

7. Combined record of BCS opposition
SEC...106-64 (.624)
ACC...152-114 (.571)

Here the SEC has the advantage, showing that on average, they faced slightly better BCS teams than the ACC.

8. Percentage of games against I-AA teams:
SEC...9/48 (18.8%)
ACC...7/48 (14.9%)

The SEC played two more serious cream puff games than the ACC did. However the 9 games by the SEC places them with the most of any conference, while the ACC has 2nd fewest with the PAC10 only playing 2 IAA teams.

9. Conference records against non-BCS teams (IA like WAC/CUSA, etc , IAA)
SEC...24-1 (.960)
ACC...15-4 (.789)

So the SEC pumped up their schedule against a bunch of creampuffs, then went out and killed them. The ACC schedule fewer of those games and managed to lose 4 of them (Duke to Navy, UNC to East Carolina, NCST to UCF, UVA to Wyoming). In addition, most of these games were home games for the SEC

10. Combined records of non-BCS teams
ACC...101-129 (.439)
SEC...123-166 (.426)

A bit of a wash here. The ACC played fewer non-BCS teams and the ones they did play had a slightly better record than the SEC.

At the end of the day I still vote the SEC as the best conference. They do have some of the best teams. However, the got there largely by playing weak non-conference slates, rarely going on the road and then relying on the "we beat each other up in this conference argument" to hold the day. Kind of the same story as ACC basketball. And you know what - it works! It works for ACC hoops and it seems to work for SEC football.

The guy in the article concludes that the ACC is the 2nd best conference going into bowl season. You can argue semantics, but at the end of the day, the SEC is not overwhelmingly the best conference - but they are the best.......... and the ACC is clearly better than people want to give them credit for.

Maybe the most obvious conclusion is that the ACC does not know how to "play the game" in terms of building national prominance. Playing tough opponents outside your conference makes for great football, great money and great fun. But it is not rewarded in terms of conference image, media bias and the bowl selection process. Only the loss column is really looked at when managing the polls. Well, I take that back. The bowl selection process clearly is focused on money and not losses. Regardless, taking these kinds of risks during the season is just not worth the payback.

Interesting stuff for sure................

Where are you on the ACC / SEC argument?