I did a bunch of research for this post. I’m talking pages of spreadsheets analyzing conference schedules dating back to 2002. I’m not finished yet, but I just wanted to get this up before it gets too stale. I’ll post the rest of my research soon. However, before I get into the meat of this post I’m going to relive a couple stories detailing experiences I’ve had with SEC fans.
The first story comes from New Orleans in January of 2004. Many of you remember that was the year Oklahoma and LSU played in the Sugar Bowl for the BCS title game. You may also remember that Oklahoma shouldn’t have even been in the game after shitting all over the box score of their their conference championship game against Kansas State (they lost 35-7). When it became abundantly clear, or so we thought, that USC was going to be playing in the Sugar Bowl my buddy D-Bo made hotel reservations for the Big Easy. Well, the deadline to cancel the reservations was days before the BCS selection show.
While this was going down, I had entered myself into the USC bowl ticket lottery multiple times (I may have worked the system a little.) We were trying to get as many tickets as possible for the Sugar Bowl. Once you commit to the bowl ticket lottery, there’s no backing out. So I was going to have to pay for the tickets no matter what. Well, once it was announced that USC would be playing in Pasadena and we had hotel reservations in New Orleans I had a choice to make. I could either eat the hotel charges in New Orleans and pay to attend the Rose Bowl. Or I could go spend New Year’s in the French Quarter and sell the six Rose Bowl tickets to finance the trip. I chose the latter option, which I do not regret.
While we were in New Orleans we soon realized that Oklahoma fans were playing the part of the the 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA finals…they were just happy to be there. They were bordering on apologetic that they got into the game and USC did not. Meanwhile, we were jabbering back and forth with LSU fans about whose team was luckier that they didn’t have to play the other. As the week wore on, with the exception of the night USC beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl, LSU fans were growing more and more hostile to our presence in their city. Several fights nearly broke out, a lot of shit talk was exchanged, and someone may or may not have been shoved into a puddle of vomit, urine, horse manure and spilled booze. By the night of the Sugar Bowl, we decided we weren’t even going to leave the hotel because they would be insufferable after narrowly beating Oklahoma. So in summary: LSU fans don’t subscribe to the mantra “Classy, Not Trashy”.
The second story comes from last Friday night in Hermosa Beach. After a night at the infamous Poop Deck, my buddy Eric and I decided to get some late food. We waited in line for about 30 minutes next to a guy that graduated from Vanderbilt. I don’t know what the impetus was, but the conversation centered around college football pretty quick. He was making grand proclamations about the SEC’s sheer brilliance and pooh-poohing everything about the Pac-10. We had a lively conversation and it was all good-natured for the most part. It drove me crazy at the same time though. Sure, the SEC is a good conference. But this guy went to Vander-fucking-bilt okay! He wouldn’t know good college football if it took him out for an expensive dinner and nice bottle of wine. The Commodores (I had to look that up) are a joke. They sell their season ticket package for $99 (I looked that up too. It’s almost like we have a research department at PoL). Good luck getting one ticket to a USC game for that price.
Anyway, it just reminded me how the SEC serves the crazy-kool-aid to everyone in the conference, not just the traditional power teams. When the underlings of the conference are bat-shit crazy the power teams are off the charts.
Now to the reason for the post…
Les Miles’ recent attempt to tarnish the accomplishments of recent USC teams by claiming the Trojans play a weaker schedule reeks of stereotypical SEC blather. Miles was saying all the right words to get Tiger fans more excited for this coming season. What easier way to do that than by talking out of his ass about the West Coast team that continues to frustrate the LSU nation even though the two teams never play?
LSU’s frustration with the Men of Troy began in 2003, when LSU was still Slippery Saban’s team. LSU won the BCS Championship Trophy, but USC stole some of their limelight by earning the AP National Championship trophy that year. They took offense to the “Repeat” and “Three-peat” mantras that followed USC in 2004 and 2005. Everyone, including many USC fans, took offense to ESPN deeming the 2005 Trojan team as The Best Team in the History of Mankind, or something like that. USC has received a lion’s share of the publicity in recent years and SEC fans are upset that the focus has shifted somewhat from their conference of “real football”.
It’s no secret that SEC football fans find all other Division I conferences to be the rough equivalent of Pop Warner football. SEC football is good football, but it’s not the only football. But I would ask Mr. Miles to take a look at the teams in his conference. Every conference has their patsies. I’m looking at you Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Stanford, Washington, and Arizona. But what USC lacks in conference competition, they make up for in out-of-conference (OOC) opponents. If you looked at SEC schedules from year to year, you might assume that OOC opponents like Middle Tennessee State, Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana-Lafayette, and Southern Mississippi were actually SEC members. The SEC cherry picks those teams so much that they might as well apply for membership to the conference.
Take a look at the out of conference opponents for USC and for LSU this season:
USC: Idaho, @ Nebraska, @ Notre Dame (USC has fewer OOC games because they chose to play the entire Pac-10 instead of scheduling cream puffs when the NCAA allowed 12 games per season.)
LSU: Virginia Tech, Middle Tennessee State, @ Tulane, Louisiana Tech
LSU gets all their difficult games at home this year: VaTech, Florida, Auburn, and Arkansas. USC plays all its tough games on the road this year: Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon (Autzen Stadium is a GREAT home field advantage), and Cal with the possible excepetion of UCLA playing tough on the Trojan’s home field.
Now, I’m not trying to determine any National Champions in July. The games have to be played. All I’m doing here is telling Les Miles to shut his fat mouth about strength of schedule. He doesn’t have solid ground to stand on.
Here’s one man’s rankings of the SEC:
First Tier: Florida, LSU, Auburn
Second Tier: Tennessee, Arkansas (soon to be back down in the Third), Georgia
Third Tier: South Carolina, Alabama, Ole Miss
Fourth Tier: Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Lousiana-Monroe*
(*I’m still convinced they’re the 13th team of the SEC.)
Some more nuggets for you to digest (home teams in bold):
9/2/02 USC 24 – Auburn 17
8/30/03 USC 23 – Auburn 0 (Auburn ranked #6 in pre-season)
9/17/05 USC 70 – Arkansas 17
If you don’t believe me about the schedules, maybe these guys can convince you:
Pac-10 Out of Conference Schedule 2007 [College Football Resource]
SEC Out of Conference Schedule 2007 [College Football Resource]
Toughest Schedules of 2007 [ESPN’s Mark Schlabach]
Top 25 Toughest Schedules [Rival’s Steve Megargee writing for SI.com]