Berry Tramel

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Oklahoma football: Bob Stoops right & wrong about the SEC

by Berry Tramel Modified: May 9, 2013 at 5:15 pm •  Published: May 9, 2013

Bob Stoops has taken on the Godzilla of sport. No. Not the Miami Heat. SEC football. Stoops had the audacity to say that the SEC’s current status as the kingpin of college football is the result of “propaganda.” Silly thing to say, because you can’t win that one. To the victor goes the spoils, and the SEC has won seven straight national titles.

But Stoops isn’t all wrong. He’s got a point or two, although it didn’t directly address the subject at hand. Stoops pointed out that the SEC’s bottom half was nothing special. Which is true. It’s not. When you hear SEC people — or non-SEC people; all kinds of people say it — talk about how treacherous their conference slate is no matter the opponent, well, it’s nonsense. The SEC’s second division is no better than any other league’s. If it was, the SEC would have more parity. Last season, the SEC monsters — Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Georgia Florida and South Carolina — went 30-0 against the non-monsters.

None of that is relevant to the question of SEC dominance — the SEC is the nation’s best football conference — and/or a team like Oklahoma, or Ohio State, or Southern Cal, or Florida State, or anyone else ending the string. The top of the SEC is better, in some years way better, than the top of the other leagues.

But the SEC is running a scam in some ways. It has expanded to 14 teams but kept its conference schedule at eight games. Which means fewer games matching the best teams. Georgia didn’t play A&M, LSU or Bama. Alabama didn’t play Florida, Georgia or South Carolina. South Carolina didn’t play Alabama or A&M. A&M didn’t play Georgia or South Carolina. Florida didn’t play Bama. LSU didn’t play Georgia.

Georgia is a great example. The Bulldogs in 2012 lost to South Carolina in October and beat Florida three weeks later. The rest of their season was this: victories over Buffalo, Missouri, Florida Atlantic, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Auburn, Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech. Then Georgia went to the SEC title game, played a whale of a game and lost to Bama 32-28. And got itself rated seventh in the nation going into the bowls. All for playing three quality opponents and going 1-2.

That’s what Stoops means. The SEC is indeed the king of propaganda. That doesn’t mean the SEC hasn’t dominated the Big Bowl or that the SEC isn’t the best conference. But the SEC has found the formula to insure a team into the Big Bowl every season and probably two teams into the Football Four once it starts in 2014. A controlled schedule and lots of hype.

That has nothing to do with the fact that once the Big Bowl arrives, the SEC has been cleaning the clock of OU or Texas or Notre Dame or whichever opponent awaits. So the SEC does reign supreme. Which has resulted in hype. And the SEC is using that hype to maximum effect.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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