In the words of Justin Hayward (1967) from the Moody Blues:
“Cold hearted orb that rules the night
Removes the colors from our sight
Red is grey, and yellow, white
But we decide which is right
And which is an illusion”
The Southeastern Conference (SEC) has pulled off the GREATEST magicians illusion trick ever from 1996 to the current FBS CFP college football season. Since the inception of the Bowl Coalition Alliance (BCA) into the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) and now in the infancy, young adolescent stages of the College Football Playoff (CFP); the commissioners past and present with stakeholders or power brokers with deep pockets have pulled of an illusion that not even the sports media “expert” cannot fathom to understand. The best slight of hand trick used on the sports media “experts” such as ESPN College Game Day host and crew, the ESPN college football analysts “experts” of Heather Dinich, Mr. Paul Finebaum, Chris Low; ESPN SEC blog writter, Mr. Bill Hancock; CFP Executive Director, NCAA President Dr. Mark Emmert and all those who served on the BCS or CFP selection committees; and they don’t even realize it.
Magicians will never tell you how their greatest illusions are performed, but we as an audience have to figure it out. Let me explain to you how this magicians trick was performed by the SEC. What you are about to read are statistical data FACTS. These are not fabrications, stretched truths, manuipulated numbers or un-checked historcal facts. The illusion of the SEC is to make sure that the perception or mis-direction of what is being perceived as the “best” college football conference, is all smoke and mirrors. Please allow me to explain.
Fact, yes during the BCS era the SEC won 8 National Championships, 7 of which were in a row. The illusion of the trick for winning so many BCS titles in a row was done by subjective assessments from the BCS computerized formulas, manipulation of ranking subjectively within the USA Today Coaches Poll, the Harris Interactive Poll and the media polls, and the most important part of the trick; NOT playing as many non conference games on the road compared to the rest of the BCS/Non-BCS programs. No Risk, and all the reward for not playing any other P5 or FBS program on the road. By significantly taking full advantage of your non conference schedules to make you look better than you really are, is the illusion. This is the smoke, mirrors and illusion of these magicians.
FACTS, during the BCS era as a conferencer group, the SEC possessed a home field advantage rate (HFAR) of 80%. That is the highest amongst all FBS conferences during the BCS era. Of the fourteen(14) SEC programs; seven (7) of them possessed a HFAR of greater than 81% or greater. The range of these seven (7) SEC programs HFAR range from 81.25% (Florida and Tennessee) to 90.77% (Alabama). The other SEC programs not mentioned are; Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia and LSU. By possessing this significant advantage in the HFA, then published research by other educators and myself, proved that with home field advantage, there is a direct relationship to a better or improved win-loss percentage and record. During the BCS era, the SEC scheduled (628) home games with (157) road games. Only Alabama and Auburn scheduled (6) road games during that (18) year stretch. This includes playing scheduled games in regional home field advantage sites where their SEC fans have greater advantage to attend creating a home field atmosphere. Thus, possesssing a more familiar environment to the players and coaches. This creates a significant advantage for the SEC.
During the BCS era, the SEC’s non-conference record was (631-153), with (124) of those wins versus FCS programs. Rather than schedule FBS games at other FBS sites, the SEC Democritusly schedules FCS opponents at the end of the regular season, right before rivalry week. The reason being is, if an SEC programs current record is (5) wins with (2) weeks to go, then they can earn or be given that sixth win to make them bowl eligibel prior to rivalry week. Thus, securing more financial means with bowl games they possess contractual alliances with. As the BCS era transitions into the CFP era, many of the major FBS P5 conferences are transitioning out of FCS contracts and scheduling (1) more conference game or other FBS quality level programs.
The SEC stayed the course and continued their non conference scheduling practices with significant home field advantages. During the CFP era, the SEC has scheduled (275) NCG’s. Of those (275) NCG’s, (228) or 82.9% are scheduled at home. Of those (228) NCG home games, (66) or 28.9% are scheduled versus FCS opponents at home. Those (228) home NCG’s by the SEC is the highest number of home NCG’s compared to any other FBS Conference. That is (42) more home games than the second highest P5 Conference the ACC. During the CFP era, the SEC has only scheduled, (47) away NCG’s. During the CFP era, the SEC win-loss record is (177) wins with (41 losses). This gives the SEC a percentage success rate, excluding the 2018 FBS season, as (.812).
Of the (14) SEC programs, Alabama has YET to play a NCG on the road, at another FBS programs site, in their stadium. Alabama has scheduled (20) home NCG’s and (0) away NCG’s. Yes, many of you will argue, “well, we played in Atlanta, or Dallas or Orlando.” Or others will say, especially the sports media “experts” or the fans, ” Well we dont have to play them in their sites or travel to far, becuase we are the best and the best should have home field advantage. Or better yet, I heard this excuse while at the National Championship Game in Atlanta in January; “If we played roads games against other FBS programs Tuscaloosa would lose money and Alabama fans can’t go to those away games.” All great excuses to control all aspects of the scheduling to avoid losing to quality P5 or FBS programs. What many of you fail to understand is that those sites are SEC home field regional advantages.
Examining the SEC programs NCG’s further, (10) of the (14) SEC programs possess a NCG home field advantage of 80% or greater during the CFP era. Of the remaining (13) SEC programs, excluding Alabama which was already dissected, (3) SEC programs have played (2) NCG’s away, (4) SEC programs have played (3) NCG’s away, (1) SEC program has played (4) NCG’s away, (2) SEC programs have played (5) NCG’s away and (1) SEC program has played (6) NCG’s away. By controlling the NCG schedule, this allows the SEC to maintian this smoke and mirror like image of being the best, with less risk in the NCG schedule and all the reward at the end with greater opportunity to make them look better than they actually are. Do not forget, that during the 2018 FBS season the SEC has scheduled (15) FCS programs. Just more viable facts that supports that the SEC and their programs fear losing and playing against P5 or FBS programs on the road.
These facts and researched data points allows the ability for someone like myself, to paint a real picture of the SEC. Offering up arguments and the reality against the SEC to the CFP selection committee in which subjective assessments are made, when selecting and ranking the FBS programs for the opportunity to compete for the trophy, prestige and the $50 Million dollars on the table. The reality is the SEC is not the best college football conference of the FBS. Their image and perception is all done by smoke, mirrors and a magicians trick to make you believe they are the best, when in reality, they have manipulated the variables in their favor.
From my perspective, the SEC is only champion of the region that spans from East of College Station Texas; to as Far Northwest in Fayetteville, Arkansas and Columbia, Missouri; as far North as Lexington, Kentucky, as far Northeast as Columbia, South Carolina and all places below that imaginary line. The ONLY SEC football program I have the utmost respect for is LSU; at least they are willing to take risks in their NCG schedule and play in Wisconsin, in South Bend and other hostile environments to prove themselves. Until Alabama and the remaining (12) SEC programs, excluding LSU, plays in Ann Arbor, in Columbus, in South Bend, in Madison, in Palo Alto, in Southern California, in Tempe, in Boise, in Pullman, in Seattle, in Eugene, in Lincoln, in Stillwater, in Norman, in Minneapolis, in Ames, in Iowa City, in Dekalb, in Provo, in Reno, in Blacksburg, in Morgantown, in Pittsburgh, in Lansing, in State College, and other FBS program stadium sites rather than schedule FCS opponents at the end of the year, then all the SEC is Champion of is it’s own region in the Southeast.
To draw a conclusion on this posting, the SEC will never release their stranglehold on which gives them the best strategic and Democritusly driven advantage to the prize, notoriety and prestige. Until someone stand up to the bullies of college football, and tells them NO we are not playing you there, you have an open invitation to come play here, then things wont change. Or, if there was a standardized, balanced, cross conference, cross divisional scheduling format, like the National Football League (NFL), that cannot be manipulated, then the bullies will still get there way. Time for a change and change is coming. It takes the right group of educated minds to address this issue and bring it ot the forefront. I have the research and data to support the change in college football scheduling and an expanded 16- team playoff which is inclusive to all FBS programs and not the group of 65.
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Next Post: Coach Saban and Alabama, Magician and Pied Piper.
Hayward, Justin (1967). Nights In White Satin. Released by The Moody Blues. Days of Future Past. Available on Cassette, CD and Record. Recorded at Decca Studios, West Hampstead, London, UK. Dream Record Label .Recorded May 9, 1967 through November 3, 1967.