SEC: The Power Five's Version of Eddie Haskell

Published on 27-Aug-2014 by Alan Adamsson

Football - NCAA    NCAA Football Daily Update

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SEC: The Power Five's Version of Eddie Haskell

When the new CFB Playoff criteria for selection was published, the first snarky remarks made were how long it would take the SEC teams to put the Big Ten bottom feeders on speed dial.

That's because playing Power Five foes count more, somehow.

Which means ducking Boise State to play Indiana is a positive move. Go figure. But that's another discussion for another time.

What's before us now is the SEC actually took the snarksters' advice. En masse. And who was their logical target?

The gong show Charlie Weis runs at Kansas. Hit it, Jayhawk sales department:

Well, Kansas, you've got your choice of challenges now. An embarrassing seven SEC teams want to pay you to visit them -- they'd prefer not to travel -- and take your whuppin' just like they pay the Savannah States of this world to ... well ... let's color code their Power Five opponents and FCS schools:

Alabama West Virginia Fla Atlantic So Miss W Carolina
Arkansas ... Nicholls St N Illinois Texas Tech UAB
Auburn ... Kansas St San José St La Tech Samford
Florida ... Idaho E Michigan E Kentucky Florida St
Georgia ... Clemson Troy Ga Southern Georgia Tech
Kentucky ... UT Martin Ohio UL Monroe Louisville
LSU ... Wisconsin Sam Houston UL Monroe N Mexico St
Mississippi St ... So Miss UAB So Alabama UT Martin
Missouri ... So Dakota St Toledo UCF Indiana
Ole Miss ... Boise St UL Lafayette Memphis Presbyterian
South Carolina ... E Carolina Furman So Alabama Clemson
Tennessee ... Utah St Arkansas St Oklahoma Chattanooga
Texas A&M ... Lamar Rice SMU UL Monroe
Vanderbilt ... Temple UMass Charleston So Old Dominion

Besides rivalries -- they're your scheduling salvation, Georgia -- it's not really looking like SEC teams go out of their way to find challenges. Unless maybe ESPN is the matchmaker and tells them it's a good idea.

SEC teams are also adept at strategically placing their non-cons. Alabama, for instance, has Southern Mississippi before Florida, a bye before LSU, and West Carolina before Auburn. Smart. A team can do that with an eight-game conference schedule.

How much of an advantage do a 99% chance of an extra victory and less wear-and-tear on players give the SEC? Well, here's the Pac-12 with its nine-game conference schedule allowing for only three non-cons unless a game at Hawaii is on the schedule, whereby the NCAA allows for a 13th game:

Arizona ... UNLV UTSA Nevada  
Arizona St ... Weber St New Mexico Nôtre Dame  
California ... Northwestern Sacramento St BYU  
Colorado ... Colorado St UMass Hawaii  
Oregon ... South Dakota Michigan St Wyoming  
Oregon St ... Portland St at Hawaii San Diego St  
Stanford ... UC Davis Army Nôtre Dame  
UCLA ... Virginia Memphis Texas  
USC ... Fresno St Boston College Nôtre Dame  
Utah ... Idaho St Fresno St Michigan  
Washington ... at Hawaii E Washington Illinois Georgia St
Washington St ... Rutgers Nevada Portland St  

So, the Pac-12 non-cons are comprised of 21.6% FCS schools (8-37) and 32.4% Power Fives plus BYU and Nôtre Dame (12-37). The SEC non-cons are comprised of 28.1% FCS schools (18-64) and 18.8% Power Fives (12-64).

Toss in that ninth conference game for the Pac-12 schools for the sake of four-vs-four comparison, and the numbers adjust to 16.3% (8-49) FCS opponents and a whopping 49.0% Power Fives (24-49).

Frankly, based on raw numbers alone, that would make omitting a two-loss Pac-12 champion from the playoffs a major crime. Not sure if the same could be said for the SEC, as even ESPN is downplaying it this season:

One can argue that the SEC did so well during the BCS years because it knew how to game the system. That's not to say it didn't have worthy champions, because it did. However, it is to say that those champions didn't always have the gauntlet to run that other teams did, which gave the SEC team a more refreshed pass to the title tilt.

This also enabled the SEC to enhance a brand image of superiority that pollsters obviously bought into, perpetuating a virtual entitlement to the championship game.

This season, we'll see if a learned committee will see through that image, much like Leave It to Beaver's June Cleaver with Eddie Haskell. But there was never any doubt she had him figured out.