Saturday, January 19


If you’re an Ohio State fan like Nick and I, and there’s a pretty solid chance that you are if you’re reading this, you probably can’t get enough of hearing about the football played in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Newspapers, websites, radio shows - they can’t seem to say enough nice things about this confederation (pun intended) of college football teams, and it’s all so very exciting to hear and learn about. I’ve even started subscribing to The SEC Rocks Your Ass Digest. Fun fact: did you know that teams from this conference have defeated Ohio State University in the past two National Championship games? How exciting! Or that all the players on these teams have the speediest speed that ever sped across a football field? In fact, LeBron James wasn’t even driving when he got his 101 MPH speeding ticket - he was simply sitting in a chariot carried by SEC football players. It’s true! I love the SEC.

OK, enough silliness. I’m frankly tired of hearing about how great the SEC is, and I’m sure you are too. Get over yourselves. A bothersome extension of all this SEC-loving is this popular perception, both local and national, that OSU coach Jim Tressel is some sort of a failure for having fallen to SEC clubs in the BCS title game the past two years. This is ridiculous. All Tressel has done in the past six years is claim three Big Ten championships, one national title, three national title game appearances, five BCS appearances, three BCS game wins, and a 5-1 record against archrival Michigan. That’s fucking good. The idea that twice in a row finishing second out of the over 100 teams in the country somehow makes Tressel a bad coach deserving of all sorts of misguided Buffalo Football Buffaloes references is indefensible. The Buckeyes have never been so good in my lifetime and I love it.

What these two games have done, in addition to opening Tressel to underserved criticism, is rapidly increased the hyperbole that is now routinely applied to the SEC. Much of this hype, as I alluded to in the intro, has to do with their supposed advantage in team speed. Whatever. People just unquestioningly follow this line of thinking that kids from southern states like Florida and Georgia are somehow uniformly faster than kids from the Midwest and East Coast, as if that makes any sense. If SEC players are so fast, then how did Ted Ginn and Chris Wells outrun their Dixieland opponents these past few years? It’s annoying, and it’s lazy analysis. I’m not saying that the SEC isn’t the premier college football conference in the US - it is and I’m not saying that their players aren’t fast - they are. I’m just saying that I’ve heard just about enough about it, and have heard far too many commentators parrot this mindless “team speed” notion in lieu of bothering to offer any real football analysis.

Finally, why get so excited about the SEC? Sure, they have the best football teams in the country, but there is one huge drawback to these teams that analysts and journalists never have the courage to mention. Look at where these teams and schools are located: Alabama. Georgia. Louisiana. Mississippi. South Carolina. Arkansas. Tennessee. Kentucky. Florida. Notice something? That’s right, they’re all located in the southeastern United States. You can have all the team speed you want - you can have so much speed that you have to start including relativistic corrections in your recruiting pitches, but the stark, tragic fact remains that these teams are helpless to escape their unfortunate locations in the southern part of the United States. Poor kids.


Nick said...

Not to mention that Ohio State does some recruiting in the South, and many SEC schools recruit up north. You hit the nail on the head: it's lazy analysis.

Anonymous said...

A few corrections, Tressel has been there for seven years, not six, making his stats even more impressive. He has 4 big ten titles, and a 6-1 record over Michigan. His 73-15 record over the past seven years in second to only Pete Carrol's 76-14 over that span.

Andy said...

You're right that Tressel has been there 7 years, but I never said he had only been there 6, so it's not actually a correction; I cherry-picked years to not include the relatively mediocre 7-5 campaign in 2001 (even if they did beat Michigan!).

You are right on the 4 Big Ten championships - that was my mistake.

And thanks for contributing the extra facts!