no, YOU'RE off topic
URBAN MEYERS PATH TO SUCCESS IN YEAR ONE
Urban Meyer has a way. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what Meyer brings to the table because he brings a multitude of desired qualities that any school would seek. Be it charisma, pedigree, or an unrelenting desire to win, Meyer should be able to quickly right the ship in Columbus after a year of scandal and uncertainty. With Meyer standing at the podium, flashing his trademark smile and describing a Buckeye team that would compete as ferociously as his teams at Florida, Buckeye fans nationwide swooned. With that, the first seeds of success were planted at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Meyer won the press conference, a key victory in establishing the tone of the future at Ohio State. But the path to success is often determined by how you compete in your first year. Fortunately for Ohio State, the slate is set for an instant turnaround in Year One.
It would be dishonest to discuss Ohio State's transition without in some ways comparing it to the very same process of its arch rival Michigan. Brady Hoke won his first press conference and set the tone for the season ahead by consistently hammering home the importance of the Ohio State game into the minds of his players. Meyer, who cut his teeth coaching at Ohio State, understands how important The Game is in defining his legacy and his tenure as Head Coach. Faced with a similar rebuilding process this season, Hoke transformed a uninspired, poorly coached 7-5 team, fresh off of a 52-14 lashing in the Gator Bowl, to a fundamentally sound football team that finished 10-2 and finds itself on the brink of it’s first BCS bid since 2006. Hoke was also recently awarded the Hayes-Schembechler award for Coach of the Year for turning the Wolverines around in such a short span. But make no mistake, Hoke, despite his constant emphasis on beating Ohio State, benefited from a schedule that was favorable for success. The Wolverines finished the season 8-0 at home and only faced one truly taxing road game, a game they lost to Michigan State, en route to 10 wins.
Meyer's path in Year One is eerily similar: Ohio State travels away from the Columbus only once in its first six games with a late September trip to East Lansing to face a rebuilding Spartan side that loses its starting quarterback, both starting wide receivers, and the potential early exit of tweener first rounder Jerel Worthy. A 5-0 start with a home showdown against Nebraska the following week would be a great start for Meyer and Co. in his first season. Perhaps the other most notable obstacle to such a start would be when Ohio State faces a potentially intriguing out of conference matchup with Cal. Cal has struggled mightily on the defensive front and Ohio State should likely be favored in the matchup.
Michigan had the luxury of returning talent at quarterback in Denard Robinson as does Meyer with dynamic Big 10 Freshman of the Year Braxton Miller. Meyer made it abundantly clear in his presser that meeting Braxton Miller was priority one and unsurprisingly so as his history of molding young quarterbacks is nearly unparalleled. He turned Alex Smith into the top overall pick, harnessed Chris Leak’s talents in a way that Ron Zook’s staff never could, and also notoriously make Tim Tebow a Heisman Trophy winner and two-time national champion. Couple that with the wealth of young defensive talent returning for the Buckeyes, most notably Ryan Shazier, and a 10-0 start with a de facto Leaders Division title game looming in Madison the following week is certainly on the table. If that scenario plays out, Meyer will have done enough, even before The Game, to potentially be the second recipient of the Hayes-Schembechler Award.
Consider this: Had Rich Rodriquez lasted one more year at Michigan and the Wolverines ultimately hired Hoke for the 2012 season, Hoke's first year as coach would be significantly more daunting solely because of the schedule. Michigan opens its 2012 slate against Alabama at Cowboy Stadium and faces road trips to Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State. It would be difficult to imagine the Wolverines finishing the season 10-2 despite having senior leadership on offense. Urban Meyer is an amazing coach and relentless recruiter. He will bring top-tier talent to Columbus and undoubtedly have high-ranking recruiting classes. However, Urban Meyer, for all his talents, will benefit from having a favorable schedule in Year One as much, if not more, than Brady Hoke did at Michigan.
After getting a quick update yesterday evening that Michigan was in his top five, I was able to get Logan Tuley-Tillman on the phone for a full interview last night. For those who didn't see the update, Tuley-Tillman is a 6'7", 275-pound 2013 OL recruit from Peoria (IL) Manual with early offers from Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri. Logan visited Ann Arbor for both the Nebraska and Ohio State games, and said he "never had an experience like it." His top five is now Michigan, Mizzou, Oregon, Boise State, and Illinois. Here's the lowdown on his recruitment:
ACE: First of all, I guess I'll ask you to expand on how the visits were, both for the Nebraska game and the Ohio State game.
LOGAN: The visit for Nebraska, it was really fun just getting down there and seeing what it is like. Then the visit last Saturday, it was like that times three—just the whole overall experience, it just really opened my eyes to what Michigan really is.
ACE: When you say it opened your eyes to what Michigan really is, what did you take away from that visit?
LOGAN: That they have great pride and great tradition. The winning ways are there if you just buy into the system. I can tell that their success, the success they're having this year, it's something I could probably build off of if I would choose to go there.
ACE: You've got a couple early offers right now, and you've got Michigan now in your top five. Do you know how your recruitment is going to play out at this point? Any idea of a timeline or is it too early to be thinking about that?
LOGAN: I'm pretty sure an offer from [Michigan] is going to come when I get film to them, but I'm not really going to make any decisions any time soon. I'm just going to play it out and see what happens.
ACE: Were you able to talk to any of the coaches when you were up here?
LOGAN: Yeah, I actually have a pretty good relationship with Coach Funk. I talked to him a couple times this past week. I actually talked to him last night, too, before I left. He's a real good guy, we have a pretty strong relationship.
ACE: Were you able to get your film to him? Has he said anything about seeing you on tape?
LOGAN: Yeah, I got him my highlights, but they need two full game films just to see, because all the players that they're recruiting, they know they can play, but they just want to see what type of guy they are. So, I'm just trying to get them the full-length videos now. I tried to get it to them digitally, but our school doesn't have it on hudl or anything, so I have to physically send them DVDs.
ACE: There were a bunch of prospects up there the last couple weeks. Were you able to connect with any of the recruits who were at the game?
LOGAN: Actually, I haven't really had the chance to talk to anyone like that, because I didn't really know anybody. I knew one, though, because we used to play AAU together. Amara... I can't think of his last name, but he used to play on my AAU team a little bit ago. [Amara Darboh?] Yeah.
ACE: Michigan fans might not be too familiar with your game at this point. How would you describe your strengths and weaknesses on the football field?
LOGAN: Some of my strengths would be just pass protection and just getting down and dirty in the trenches. I just like to go heads up with people.
ACE: You look on the video like you've got a bit of a mean streak when you get on the field. Is that something you take pride in?
LOGAN: Yeah, that's really just how everybody is from this area. When you come from Peoria, you've got to be tough, so that's one of the things that I take with me on the field. I just keep that chip on my shoulder that I've just got to get myself out of this town—even though I love it, it's my hometown, I don't want to end up staying here forever.
ACE: How would a Michigan offer affect your recruitment?
LOGAN: I think that would shake up the whole landscape, and I'm pretty sure they would skyrocket to number one, just from what I've seen and the relationship I have with Coach Funk.
Basking in Glory (BiG)
As usual, THE KNOWLEDGE has been basking in glory with yet another accurate revelation of a future event. This time Michigan fans have joined THE KNOWLEDGE in basking in glory after vanquishing the cheating crooks from Columbus
As a side note at this point, you may note that the Big Ten conference stole its logo from THE KNOWLEDGE. THE KNOWLEDGE has always used the BiG short form for Basking in Glory, for several years now. The conference simply copied this and substitued a "1" for the "i" and used it as their logo. THE KNOWLEDGE, of course, knew this would happen, and doesn't mind this imitation
Many was the number of fools who did not believe THE KNOWLEDGE when THE KNOWLEDGE proclaimed, way before Tressel was exposed (to the rest of the world) for the fraud that he is, that Urban Meyer will be coaching osu in 2012
Many was the number of fools who did not believe THE KNOWLEDGE when THE KNOWLEDGE proclaimed a Michigan victory over ND (especially when ND went up 24-7), over NW (when they led), over osu (when they were up 7-0 and 24-23) and so forth
Many was the number of fools who did not believe THE KNOWLEDGE when THE KNOWLEDGE proclaimed a BCS bowl for this year's Michigan squad
where are these people now? trashed in the dust left behind as THE KNOWLEDGE has continued to soar
THE KNOWLEDGE was off on a single game this year (Iowa) due to the referee-induced quirk in the spatio-temporal continuum as noted earlier; but these events are extremely infrequent, so THE KNOWLEDGE basks in glory practically every time
(the referees also tried to alter the future by incorrectly overturning Toussaint's TD against osu; however, the future was put back in track when a corrective measure ensured the osu QB overthrew an open receiver on a potential long touchdown)
hence, the number of people that still continue to not believe THE KNOWLEDGE has reduced significantly, but still...
there are some that don't believe THE KNOWLEDGE's other revelations:
- Hoke will win the National Championship and go on to coach in the NFL (to provide other teams a chance to compete with Michigan)
- Dan Mullen will, at that point, be appointed as the Michigan head coach
- Thence will ensue another "ten-year war" between Mullen and Meyer
- Unfortunately, the "10" year war will be cut short by Meyer being deposed after going 0-6 against Michigan, including a two-loss-to-Michigan season
there are still some people that are naive enough to believe Meyer will run a clean program at osu. it has become clear to common folk that osu is a rogue program. THE KNOWLEDGE confirms that the future of osu is no different - they will continue run a rules-breaking, dirtu program under the corrupt Urban Meyer
nevertheless, it has been more than 730 days since osu beat Michigan, and that will continue for a few thousand more days
the situation in Columbus will become desperate enough that they start paying athletes more than other shools (paying student-athletes a fixed stipend will be the NCAA rule by then) in violation of NCAA rules and will get no more than wrist slaps from the NCAA keen on not losing its osu revenue
all of this won't matter to Michigan, who will continue to win the right way
those that don't believe THE KNOWLEDGE, be prepared as usual to be left in a trail of dust
for those that have been busy worrying about Michigan's chances of going to a BCS bowl game, quit analyzing various possibilites and just follow THE KNOWLEDGE
those that follow THE KNOWLEDGE shall be worry-free
Preview of upcoming posts by THE KNOWLEDGE:
- Announcement of the TOP FRIEND OF THE KNOWLEDGE award - the most exciting thing ever on these very pages
- BCS bowl review
- Part 1 of THE KNOWLEDGE's Profile (Part 2 published in 2010)
- Michigan's future in 2013 and beyond
Only 22 games this weekend, with 19 of them on Saturday. Of the 22 games this weekend, six are conference championship games; so I guess we’ll call this championship weekend? For six teams, it’s a last ditch effort to become bowl eligible (right now 70 teams are bowl eligible; there are 70 bowl spots); so if you are a Ball State, Toledo, or Western Michigan fan, you want these teams to lose (although the winner of Syracuse and Pittsburgh will be bowl eligible for sure).
Army/Navy is December 10th, while this is a game where we honor our servicemen and servicewomen, there will be no Upset Watch, as there is only one game played. Upset Watch will return for the bowl season.
As typical with the Watch, we’ll review the picks from last week, noting the bad picks, and point out a few games to give the underdog some credit in, even if it is only in Vegas. We’ll also look at two sure-fire favorites (since Michigan’s regular season is over). Be sure to check out my website, Before Visiting the Sportsbook, throughout the week, for more content.
Florida State (8-4) -2.0 @ Florida (6-6). Result: Florida State 21 Florida 7.
@ Northwestern (6-6) +7.0 Michigan State (10-2). Result: Michigan State 31 Northwestern 17 [Props to Trebor for correctly predicting Michigan State would cover].
*@ Michigan (10-2) -7.5 Ohio (6-6). Result: Michigan 40 Ohio 34 [Props to One Inch Woody for correctly predicting Ohio would cover].
@ Wake Forest (6-5) +1.0 Vanderbilt (5-6). Result: Vanderbilt 41 Wake Forest 7 [Props to One Inch Woody for correctly predicting Wake Forest would cover].
Nevada (6-4) +1.5 @ Utah State (5-5). Result: Utah State 21 Nevada 17.
@ Auburn (7-5) +21.0 Alabama (11-1). Result: Alabama 42 Auburn 14.
UCLA (6-6) +14.5 @ USC (10-2). Result: USC 50 UCLA 0 [Props to One Inch Woody for correctly predicting USC would cover].
*I’m counting this as a loss despite the fact Toussaint was clearly in the end zone, despite the officials “better” judgment.
Besides the Michigan State game, Trebor added a pair of wins with Purdue (-7.5; 33-25) and Virginia Tech (-4; 38-0).
Gulo_Gulo added a pair, as well, with Texas (+7.5; 27-25) and Wisconsin (-17; 45-7).
Logan88 rode Stanford (-7; 28-14) and Minnesota (+10; 27-7) to victory.
Number 7, following the trend of twos, picked up wins with Georgia (-5.5; 31-17) and Kentucky (+6; 10-7).
Championship Week begins on Thursday with (#23) West Virginia visiting South Florida (8:00 PM EST/ESPN/ESPN 3D(!)/ESPN3); the Mountaineers need a win to keep their BCS bowl hopes alive. On Friday, there are a pair of championship games, with Ohio University and Northern Illinois meeting at Ford Field (7:00 PM EST/ESPN2/ESPN3); Northern Illinois returns to the championship game after coming up short last year and Ohio University returns for the second time in three years. UCLA visits (#9) Oregon in the PAC-12 Championship Game (8:00 PM EST/FOX); Oregon has won three straight against UCLA, dating back to 2007.
Six games match top 25 opponents on Saturday. Saturday kicks off with (#24) Southern Miss visiting (#6) Houston in the Conference USA Championship Game (12:00 PM EST/ABC); a BCS bowl is on the line for Houston. (#22) Texas visits (#17) Baylor (3:30 PM EST/ABC); Texas had won 12 straight against Baylor until last year’s 30-22 loss in Austin. The SEC Championship Game is another with BCS bowl implications, matching (#14) Georgia and (#1) LSU in the Georgia Dome (4:00 PM EST/CBS); a Georgia win likely knocks Alabama out of a BCS bowl game. (#10) Oklahoma visits (#3) Oklahoma State in the Bedlam Game, a de facto Big 12 Championship Game (8:00 PM EST/ABC); an Oklahoma State win gives them a BCS bowl bid with a shot at the national title, while an Oklahoma win would likely create a three-way tie for first, with Oklahoma winning by virtue of their 2-0 record against Kansas State and Oklahoma State. In the ACC Championship Game, a rematch occurs between (#5) Virginia Tech and (#20) Clemson, this time, in Charlotte (8:00 PM EST/ESPN/ESPN3); Clemson beat Virginia Tech 23-3 in Blacksburg on October 1st. After starting 8-0, Clemson is 1-3 in their last four games, the lone win coming by three. In another game involving a rematch, (#15) Wisconsin meets (#13) Michigan State in Indianapolis in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game (8:17 PM EST/FOX); since 2000, the teams have split their ten meetings – Michigan State won on October 22 on a desperation heave by QB Kirk Cousins, 37-31, in East Lansing.
@ New Mexico State (4-8) +14.0 Utah State (6-5). The (NM St) Aggies are 48th in total offense (92nd rushing, 24th passing); Utah State is 24th (6th rushing, 92nd passing). New Mexico State is 109th in total defense (105th rushing, 96th passing); the (Utah State) Aggies are 48th (30th rushing, 74th passing). Since 1997, New Mexico State is 4-9 SU against Utah State (5-8 ATS); 9 of the last 13 meetings have been decided by 14 points or less. New Mexico State Coach DeWayne Walker is 9-28 (16-19-1 ATS, 15-16-1 ATS as an underdog); Utah State Coach Gary Andersen is 14-21 (19-15 ATS, 5-10 ATS as a favorite). Utah State is 4-2 in Las Cruces since 1997. Utah State is 2-5 ATS as a favorite this year; New Mexico State is 6-4 ATS as an underdog this year. New Mexico State should keep this closer than 14, provided the defense shows up. Take New Mexico State with the points, at home.
Troy (3-8) +17.5 @ Arkansas State (9-2).The Trojans are 65th in total offense (116th rushing, 16th passing); Arkansas State is 26th (21st rushing, 18th passing). Troy is 113th in total defense (108th rushing, 95th passing); the Red Wolves are 36th (18th rushing, 47th passing). Since 2004, Troy is 4-3 SU against Arkansas State (3-4 ATS); Troy has won four straight (3-1 ATS over that span). Arkansas State Coach Hugh Freeze is 9-2 (9-2 ATS, 7-2 ATS as a favorite); Troy Coach Larry Blakeney is 72-61 since 2001 (60-57-2 ATS, 31-24-1 ATS as an underdog). Troy is in the midst of a surprisingly bad season, as they were picked to win the Sun Belt; by contrast, Arkansas State was picked in the middle and will finish first, regardless of the outcome of the game. Arkansas State, until this year, has only made one bowl game. Despite Troy’s struggles on defense, they have the potential to keep this game close due to QB Corey Robinson’s (3100 passing yards, 62.3% completion, 19 passing TDs, but 13 INTs) success through the air. Take Troy with the points.
@ Florida Atlantic (1-10) +11.5 Louisiana-Monroe (3-8). The Owls are 119th in total offense (106th rushing, 110th passing); Louisiana-Monroe is 61st (73rd rushing, 49th passing). Florida Atlantic is 69th in total defense (73rd rushing, 60th passing); the Warhawks are 29th (12th rushing, 76th passing). Florida Atlantic is 2-5 SU against Louisiana-Monroe since 2004 (1-5-1 ATS). Louisiana-Monroe Coach Todd Berry is 12-47 since 2003 (24-32-2 ATS, 3-7-1 ATS as a favorite); Florida Atlantic Coach Howard Schnellenberger is 58-73 since 2001 (36-52-2 ATS, 23-36-2 ATS as an underdog). Florida Atlantic got their first win of the season last week, at home, 38-35 over UAB. Neither team is making a bowl game. This is Coach Schnellenberger’s last game, as he is retiring. A career that started in 1979 with Miami (FL) now comes to a close in Boca Raton. Take Florida Atlantic with the points, and to win.
Michigan State (10-2) +9.5 Wisconsin (10-2) (@ Indianapolis, IN).The Spartans are 64th in total offense (78th rushing, 46th passing); Wisconsin is 12th (10th rushing, 63rd passing). Michigan State is 3rd in total defense (11th rushing, 8th passing); the Badgers are 7th (44th rushing, 3rd passing). Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema is 49-16 (72-61-2 ATS, 46-45-2 ATS as a favorite); Michigan State Coach Mark Dantonio is 61-38 (48-44-5 ATS, 33-34-5 ATS as an underdog). Since 1999, Michigan State is 5-6 SU against Wisconsin (5-6 ATS, but 4-2 since 2004), including 1-0 this year (+7.5; 37-31 in East Lansing). If you read the Upset Watch: Week 8, I noted the home team dominance; the home team has now won seven straight, but this one is on a neutral site. Since their meeting, Michigan State is 4-1 SU (3-2 ATS); Wisconsin is 4-1 SU (2-3 ATS). Wisconsin should win, but winning by ten seems a bit much. Take Michigan State with the points.
Syracuse (5-6) +13.0 @ Pittsburgh (5-6).The Orange are 89th in total offense (96th rushing, 64th passing); Pittsburgh is 83rd (61st rushing, 78th passing). Syracuse is 71st in total defense (43rd rushing, 99th passing); the Panthers are 41st (22nd rushing, 69th passing). Since 1997, Syracuse is 6-8 SU against Pittsburgh (0-6 since 2005) (5-9 ATS). Pittsburgh Coach Todd Graham is 48-29 (41-33-1 ATS, 18-23-1 ATS as a favorite); Syracuse Coach Doug Marrone is 17-19 (16-18-1 ATS, 9-11 ATS as an underdog). I normally stay away from Big East games; the conference is just too unpredictable (who would have thought Louisville would be in the running for a BCS bowl?). Winner of this game is bowl eligible. Syracuse was picked, by most, to finish at the bottom of the Big East. Many experts had Pittsburgh finishing near the top of the Big East. Syracuse, under Marrone, has been an overachieving team. Pittsburgh should win the game, but Syracuse should keep it within two touchdowns. Take Syracuse with the points.
West Virginia (8-3) -1.0 @ South Florida (5-6) (THURS). The Mountaineers are 16th in total offense (101st rushing, 6th passing); South Florida is 30th (32nd rushing, 39th passing). West Virginia is 25th in total defense (49th rushing, 30th passing); the Bulls are 34th (14th rushing, 83rd passing). Since 2005, West Virginia is 3-3 SU against South Florida (2-4 ATS). West Virginia Coach Dana Holgorsen is 8-3 (5-6 ATS, 3-5 ATS as a favorite); South Florida Coach Skip Holtz is 51-38 (48-39-1 ATS, 24-11-1 ATS as an underdog). Holtz’s gaudy numbers come from his days at East Carolina; he is 13-11 at South Florida (10-14 ATS, 4-3 as an underdog). I have yet to offer a pick for a game that is not on Saturday, but I couldn’t resist this one. Both teams have a lot to play for: A South Florida win makes them bowl eligible; a West Virginia win coupled with a Cincinnati win gives West Virginia the Big East title. Consider that South Florida’s record in the Big East is mediocre (21-27); West Virginia is 32-10 in the Big East since 2005 (when South Florida entered the conference). The last time West Virginia lost more than two conference games, it was 2001, Rich Rodriguez’s first year. South Florida QB BJ Daniels’s (2378 passing yards, 60.4% completion 12 passing TDs, but 6 INTs) status for the game is in doubt; he did not play in a losing effort to Louisville, last week. Take note of West Virginia’s pass offense against South Florida’s pass defense. Take West Virginia to cover.
Wyoming (7-4) -5.0 @ Colorado State (3-8).The Cowboys are 50th in total offense (35th rushing, 72nd passing); Colorado State is 91st (62nd rushing, 90th passing). Wyoming is 100th in total defense (114th rushing, 42nd passing); the Rams are 85th (116th rushing, 14th passing). Since 1997, Wyoming is 5-9 SU against Colorado State (7-7 ATS). Wyoming Coach Dave Christensen is 17-19 (21-13-1 ATS, 4-5 ATS as a favorite); Colorado State Coach Steve Fairchild is 16-32 (19-27 ATS, 14-16 ATS as an underdog). Wyoming is 2-5 in their last seven trips to Ft. Collins, winning the last time there, in 2009, 17-16. These teams meet for the Bronze Boot; the “Border War” had had over 100 meetings since 1899; the teams have meet every year since 1946. Take note of Wyoming’s rushing offense against Colorado State’s run defense. Wyoming is bowl eligible for only the third time since 2000 (Las Vegas Bowl in 2004 and New Mexico Bowl in 2009; Wyoming won both of those bowl games). I would be remiss if I didn’t point out Wyoming is 7-4 ATS this year (2-2 ATS favorite) and Colorado State is 3-8 ATS (3-4 ATS underdog); Coach Fairchild is 9-4 (1-2 this year) as a home underdog, though. Take Wyoming to cover.
Who ya got?
Sometime after the 2003 incarnation of The Game, I remember walking past a belligerent Ohio
State fan by Bell's Pizza on my way back to my house on Packard Avenue across from the weird laundromat/hardware store/hot-dog shop that sits on the very end of Arch Street. I can't really recall the specifics, but he was angrily belittling Michigan despite the outcome of the game. I believe a beer or a punch was thrown by Ohio-guy, who was easily pushed to the ground and subdued by a throng of Michigan Men enjoying the opportunity to righteously enact some minor harmless violence on a Buckeye mouth-breather. We were sick of the cockiness and undeserved arrogance that 2002 had brought to their already aggravating fan base. Until that win we had little to say in response. Now? We were back. Our fall from the mountain brief.
The cops came and it was broken up. We all laughed about how stupid a guy must be to initiate a fight with Michigan fans in Ann Arbor after The Game. Our sense of superiority - already mounting after the victory and the subsequent field-storming - grew ever larger. We were content. Order had been restored to the Michigan football universe after a national championship was delivered to Columbus the previous fall. We planned a trip to Los Angeles for the Rose Bowl that coming New Year's.
I recalled that moment this week for a number of reasons, not the least of which was my desire to feel connected somehow to the emotions that must be flowing through Ann Arbor right now. I couldn't recall whether I had joined the fray. I believe a handful of my friends had, and I somewhat often found myself needlessly entering frays in college and shortly thereafter. While this was partially due to some heightened sense of duty to my friends - although that usually was my (post-hoc) justification - I've always found that there's something inherently and undeniably thrilling about knocking someone down who deserves it. Also, blind rage. That doesn't suit my narrative though.
We all know it by now: the notion that football is just better down there. But why? For the most part, those advocating for this point-of-view make one or more of the following arguments:
1. The best team in the country annually comes from the SEC, and not from any of the other power conferences.
2. Other conferences don’t fare well in bowl matchups against SEC teams.
From this commentators conclude that SEC teams are just faster, which means the SEC region (sometimes stretched to include all of Texas) just has better athletes, ergo domination. Drew Sharp (and no, I won’t link out to him) has made a particularly strong variation on this last one, arguing that migration patterns from the Midwest to the Southeast essentially mean that all the good athletes from Ohio or Michigan now reside in Florida or Alabama, which ensures the eternal viability of SEC national championship campaigns, and mostly dooms those from Big 10 country—this despite the fact that migration patterns are long-term processes whose social effects are generally felt across generations, not year-to-year. If this were true, one would assume the effects would be more wide-ranging across time. So let’s look more closely at this issue…
1. Where does the best team in the country come from?
Since 2006, it has been the SEC. No doubt about that. But since 1990, it breaks down as follows (with split championships counted as 2, and with teams assigned to their 2010 conferences):
Big 12: 5/24
Pac 10: 3/24
Big 10: 2/24
Looking at 1990-2005, it breaks down as follows:
Big 12: 5/19
Pac 10: 3/19
Big 10: 2/19
Taking this longer-view shows that SEC dominance is largely in the short-term. Prior to 2006, the SEC was decidedly middle-of-the-pack.
2. How do other conferences fare against the SEC in bowl matchups?
In 2010 the SEC went a dominating…5-5. Middling though this sounds, the other power conferences did even worse:
Phil Steele has some handy figures for the years 2000-9:
Here we see that the SEC has, in fact, been the best conference in the country in terms of bowl record, to the tune of a 48-31 record. The MWC and Pac 10 did next best. The other power conferences were less successful, including our beloved Big 10. From this we can conclude that the SEC has, in fact, generally done better than the other conferences in bowl matchups during the last decade, but that this success isn’t quite sui generis.
While I didn’t find a site listing conference records in bowl games for the 1990s, I did find a site that listed the most successful programs of that decade:
The SEC contributed 2 (Florida and Tenessee, at #s 4 and 5), the Big 10 3 (PSU, Michigan and Ohio at #s 6, 7 and 10), while the top 2 were Florida State and Nebraska. This suggests the SEC was not quite the top conference in the ‘90s that it would become in the ‘00s, which in turn suggests that the rise of the SEC has more to do with specific developments than innate or natural advantages.
So what about that migrations theory?
It’s not completely baseless, if you also count other sites of in-migration like the Southwest and West, but then again…Arizona and ASU aren’t exactly lighting it up, are they. But it’s nota very good explanation either. Here are better ones:
1. Warm weather schools have training advantages that cold weather schools don’t, particularly at the high school level, where kids don’t have access to the multimillion dollar conditioning facilities that colleges have. This is most evident in speed conditioning. Just think about it…what’s a better place to practice your 100-meter dash in January: suburban Miami or the Upper Peninsula? It’s not just the SEC that benefits, though. It’s a general advantage for southern and Western schools over Midwestern and Eastern ones. As the game moved towards a greater emphasis on speed over brawn over the past two decades, this translated into an advantage for schools recruiting primarily within the warmer parts of the country. Given the fast pace of advancements in conditioning, and the increasingly nationalized recruiting process, expect this advantage to soften over time.
2. The rise of the SEC in the ‘00s came at the moment of the ACC’s decline. Remember when Florida State used to annually beat Florida? Me too. From 1990-1999, FSU went 7-4-1 (and 7-3-1 if you discount the rematch in 1996-7). From 2000-2009, FSU went 3-7. So what gives? Bobby Bowden getting old and FSU losing ground in the in-state recruiting battles. Oh, and Miami’s post-Coker hangover didn’t hurt either. Actually, the whole ACC declined in stature during the ‘00s, which opened up recruiting lanes for several SEC schools that were previously more competitive. This suggests less a “natural” advantage than an historical one. Since the ACC doesn’t look to be coming back anytime soon, it may be a long-term development. At the same time, it also suggests that the Big 10 could benefit from similar declines in the Big 12 and Big East—provided the conference and its programs take advantage of that.
3. SEC schools have aggressively pursued excellent coaches and been willing to pay money for them. After a Zook experiment, Florida hired Urban Meyer. LSU hired Nick Saban, and later Les Miles. Alabama hired Nick Saban. South Carolina hired Steve Spurrier. Arkansas hired Bobby Petrino. Auburn hired Gene Chizik. Just as importantly, they all paid big money so these guys could build the staffs they wanted.
Big 10 schools are getting there, but it’s taking longer. Michigan is finally paying top dollar for top coordinators; Ohio will be too. Though their ceilings are lower, Little Brother and Wisconsin have also managed to put together efficient, competitive programs on tighter budgets. (Who knows what will happen to PSU—will they go for someone creative like Dan Mullen, or fall into a series of Notre Dame-like FAILS?) A lot of SEC success can be attributed to expensive coaching hires, which translates into a competitive advantage until the rest catch up. This won’t last forever.
4. Oversigning. Not every successful SEC program does this, but some of the most successful (Alabama and LSU, particularly) do. This ensures that certain programs have, say, 4 good choices for WDE rather than 3. Since not all top recruits pan out, oversigning raises the odds that you have someone who will at every position. It’s also a competitive advantage that won’t last, as virtually everyone in the world realizes practices like forcibly granting medical redshirts to college kids are unethical. Virtually everyone.
The SEC has, at least for the past 5 years, and probably for the past 10, been the best conference in the FBS. But the idea of some endless supremacy peddled by homers and haters (I’m looking at you, Drew) are as silly as Karl Rove’s dream of a “permanent Republican majority” in 2004, or Rahm Emmanuel’s similar dream of a “cascading wave of legislative victories” after 2008. Like politics, college football goes in cycles. At certain times, certain identifiable things provide certain empirically verifiable advantages. After some time, others either catch up or conditions change so that those advantages cease to be the assets they once were. We’re almost certainly going to have an SEC champion in 2011-12, and at least three programs in that conference are built for lasting success. But nothing lasts forever.