College Football: SEC’s Overall Strength is Taking Advantage of their Non-Conference Scheudling

In response to a blog post on the www.espn.com website, dated June 26, 2013, within their college football blogs, under the SEC blog, authored by Chris Low, who writes for ESPN titled: “Will SEC’s overall strength be its undoing?”.

After reading this blog post by the author which is multi-fold of chest thumping, boasting for the SEC football conference, their 7 straight “national titles” and how they are more than likely going to win the 8th. In addition to, making an assessment that the remaining FBS college football programs are inching closer to “de-throwning” the SEC, possibly this year or will the SEC basically “self-implode” beating each other to eliminate them from the discussion of playing for their 8th straight national championship title. The article is written from a hedonistic point of view, but never really tells the whole truth. As Joe Friday said on Dragnet “Ma’am, just the facts, just the facts is all we want”.

The first comment that caught my attention 1st was “The Crimson Tide will almost certainly start the 2013 season ranked No.1 in the country, meaning we could very easily be talking about eight in a row a little more than six months form now”. I have a question that pertain to this comment. Just curious, who has Alabama played since the end of the 2012-2013 season and bowl season to earn that No. 1 status? Please, tell me, I don’t think the college football audience and fans missed a game. They would not televise a college football now would they.  I understand that being the national champion makes you the one that everyone is chasing, but no games have been played to determine who should be No.1 at the start of the season.

The next comment published by Chris Low, “After all, how many times will the SEC not get two teams in the College Football Playoff?” Is Chris Low insinuating that when the playoff system that starts with the 2014 season, that the SEC is “entitled” to 2 of the 4 spots from the selection committee? Or is Chris Low insinuating that the SEC will always have automatic representation in the 4-team playoff format? Seems to me that he is under the perception that the SEC is “entitled to 2 of the 4 spots, no matter what the remaining 111 FBS/NCAA football programs do. Sounds like “entitlement” to me. From my educational mind set, experience and research with the next 4-team playoff format; with the significant number of only 3% to be selected to this playoff format, then there should not be duplicate members from one conference.

The next comment that was published by Chris Low  “The growing legions of fans tired of seeing the SEC win all the time (convinced the current system using polls and computer favor the SEC)”. I can significantly prove without a shadow of a doubt, that the SEC does manipulate the computer systems in several ways. The SEC coaches and athletic administrators have found ways to take significant advantage of their non-conference schedule by playing more HOME games than road games. This numerical advantage significantly impacts all 6 computer analysis programs one way or another. Since 1996, the SEC does possess the highest conference rate for the non-conference home field advantage scheduling among all FBS conferences, at a rate of 79.8%. Of those non conference games scheduled by the SEC, they play 8 out of every 10 non conference games as group, played at home. In addition to the group, non-conference scheduling practices and rates, Alabama also possesses the highest home field non conference scheduling rate of all FBS programs at 90.1%, since 1996. That means Alabama plays 9  out of 10 HOME non conference games, which means 1 road game every 2 1/2 to 3 years. Those are the hard real facts.

Research performed by Jeremy Jamieson (2010), ” The Home Field Advantage in Athletics: A Meta-Analysis” and R. Pollard and G. Pollard (2005) “Long Term Trends in Home Field Advantage in Professional Team Sports in North America and England” both support the home field advantage theory in which the SEC takes full advantage of. What many media outlets fail to report are the significance of the non-conference scheduling advantages that the SEC takes in their practices and how they impact the subjective polls, in addition to the impact  those extra non conference home games effect the 6 computer systems that evaluate and rate FBS programs.

The ultimate questions is who will “de-thrown” the SEC and take the title away? I can only hope that Chris Low is correct about the SEC being the cause of their own demise. If the SEC creates increased mediocrity within the SEC conference during the 2013 season, then hopefully they wont have representation in the last BCS title game. However, the subjective voters will find a way to place a 2-loss SEC team in the national championship game over any 0-loss or 1-loss BCS or Non-BCS program. When the 4-team playoff format starts in the 2014 season, we will see how the selection committee uses their analytical assessment to select the right 4 teams to compete for the national championship. I can hypothesize that the first 4 teams selected will be all BCS programs, thus leaving the Non-BCS programs out in the cold again. Thus, increasing the next debate of when do we increase to 8 or even 16 teams in the playoff format.

My book “College Football in the BCS Era, The Untold Truth: An Analysis of Factors that Supports the 16-Team Playoff Model” available at www.lulu.com

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