SEC superiority sparks jealousy among FBS members

Ben Cook

May 13, 2013 at 1:31 pm.


Bob Stoops' comments about the SEC were a little surprising to say the least. (Richard Rowe-USA TODAY Sports)

There is one prevailing thought hanging over college football — like the past seven years to be exact.

It is on the mind of football coaches around the country. It is the reason Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops recently took a shot at the conference that considers itself the best in the land. That is, of course, the Southeastern Conference.

“Listen, they’ve had the best team in college football, meaning they’ve won the national championship. That doesn’t mean everything else is always the best,” Stoops told the Tulsa World.

“So they’ve had the best team in college football. They haven’t had the whole conference. Because, again, half of ’em haven’t done much at all. I’m just asking you. You tell me.

“You’re listening to a lot of propaganda that gets fed out to you,” Stoops continued. “You’re more than smart enough to figure it out. Again, you can look at the top two, three, four, five, six teams, and you can look at the bottom six, seven, eight, whatever they are. How well are they all doing?”

Realistically Stoops has a valid point. Just because a conference produces the national champion it doesn’t necessarily mean that team takes the rest of the conference along with it. Of course when it happens three, four or — in this case — seven times in seven years you begin to wonder.

Florida coach Will Muschamp, who was Texas’ defensive coordinator from 2008-2010, said Stoops’ rant had a familiar ring to it.

“I’d be saying the same thing if I were in the Big 12,” laughed Muschamp. “I said it for three years!”

Alabama’s Nick Saban was unconcerned about Stoops’ shot at the SEC.

“I’ve got more important things to do than sit around and read what Bob Stoops has to say about anything,” Saban said. “But I like Bob Stoops, and I respect him as a coach, but I’m really trying to manage our business.

“We don’t play everybody in the Big 12 or whatever it is, so I really don’t know much about their league,” Saban said. “We have a lot of respect for what they do at Oklahoma, and I really don’t think that people that don’t play in our league really don’t understand the quality of our league from top to bottom.

“I think there’s probably a lot of animosity out there because of the success that we have in our league, but I think that kind of goes with the territory. I understand that. But we certainly respect the great program that they have at Oklahoma and the other good programs that they have in the Big 12.”

Coaches from rival FBS conferences are fixating on making sure that streak doesn’t go any further. They have made stopping the SEC priority one. The exception is the 14 coaches in the Southeastern Conference. They get a pass on this one. They aren’t jealous of the league’s streak; they are just enjoying the ride and are proud of it.

Six different teams from five FBS schools have had their chance to stop or interrupt the SEC’s remarkable streak of winning crystal footballs. It’s obvious that the SEC national title winners have done it against the best college teams over the past seven years — Notre Dame, Oregon, Texas, Oklahoma and two different Ohio State teams.

The SEC’s streak got started in 2006 when Florida beat Ohio State 41-14 and the next year the Buckeyes were thrown into the ring against SEC champion LSU and came up short 38-24. In the following years, LSU downed Oklahoma24-14, Alabama beat Texas 37-21, Auburn stopped Oregon 22-19 and Alabama extended the streak to seven consecutive years by beating LSU 21-0 and Notre Dame 42-14.

The question now is whether there is a team out there that can derail the SEC in 2013?

After having won three of the last four titles and the past two consecutively, Alabama is the favorite to make it three in a row. Who can beat the Crimson Tide in the chase for the national championship? There are a few teams that have a legitimate chance. Of course four of them are also in the SEC — Texas A&M,Georgia, LSU and Florida.

If there is a real threat to the SEC’s superiority this season it would appear to be the Ohio State Buckeyes, coming off an undefeated season under Urban Mayer, the former Florida coach. Meyer, who won the 2006 and 2008 national titles with the Gators, came to Ohio State prior to the 2012 season and promptly went 12-0. The Buckeyes were on probation and could not compete for the national title last season, but that hasn’t stopped the Ohio State players from targeting the SEC dominance in 2013.

“I hear about it all the time from my cousin — SEC this, SEC that,” Buckeye linebacker Ryan Shazier, a native ofPlantation,Florida, told’s Stewart Mandel recently. “There’s one reason I came to Ohio State— to beat up on the SEC.”

“The SEC has won, what, seven in a row?” said cornerback Bradley Roby. “What better than for Ohio State to be the team that ends it? That’s what we’re looking to do this year.”

“We have a big opportunity this year to do something special and I think we all realize that,” said offensive lineman Jack Mewhort. “You don’t come to Ohio State to be in the back of the line, you come here to be on top, and that’s what guys have been thinking about their whole careers here.”

Ohio State has to first negotiate the Big Ten schedule before the Buckeyes can even think about knocking off whichever team that emerges from the SEC, assuming the SEC furnishes the opponent. If the Buckeyes get to the championship game — which is highly possible — they could have one distinct advantage that they didn’t have the last times they played for the crystal football.

They will benefit from Meyer’s experience in winning the big one. After all, he’s done it twice. In fact, the first time he did was the start of the SEC’s national championship streak. Now he’ll be trying to end the very streak he started.

How ironic is that?