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ESPN+SEC =Unstoppable force

  • Here we go again,let's keep at least 4 SEC Teams in the top 10 .are you freaking kidding me ? but then I remember this article on why they get the benefit of the doubt.

    That answer, of course, is the BCS and its corporate underwriters, who have created a reliable business model for determining national champions that is in all respects a self-fulfilling prophecy designed to protect its primary investment.

    The BCS business plan works like this: preseason rankings typically include two, three, or four SEC teams among the nation's top ten, more than from any other conference. From the outset, this bias for SEC teams builds into the system a near insurmountable advantage.

    Start the season with two of the top four teams being from the SEC, as was the case in 2010 with Alabama and Florida, and in 2011 with Alabama and LSU, and the conference is virtually guaranteed to be represented in the title game -- and this is an important point -- even if neither of those two schools end up winning the conference.

    To be the best, so goes to the old sports adage, you've got to beat the best. But since only SEC teams are consistently declared the best, only SEC teams get the chance to prove themselves against "the best."
    It's a chicken-or-the-egg situation. Does the SEC get favorable rankings because it's so good? Or is the SEC so good because it gets favorable rankings? I argue for the latter.

    In 2010, for example, the Auburn Tigers began the season with a consensus ranking of #23, behind SEC rivals Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, and Georgia. The only way a team regarded so lightly early in the season can possibly climb into the national championship game -- which Auburn did that year -- is to beat a slew of highly ranked opponents, which Auburn also did that year. Because polls are arranged from the outset so that SEC teams will face the most highly ranked opponents over the course of a season, only teams from the SEC are time and again able to manage this feat.

    Consider again that the BCS was created by then-SEC commissioner Roy Kramer, also known as the "godfather of the BCS," a man who "attached plastic explosives to college football" and blew it up, according to an ESPN web post. ESPN, of course, is the commercial entity that dominates the college football landscape, and which has a near incalculable economic interest in promoting the nationwide perception of the SEC's elite status.

    Actually, you can calculate that interest.

    In 2008, ESPN and the SEC signed that a 15-year, $2.25 billion agreement allowing the network to televise the conference's games. In addition, ESPN owns the rights to televise all BCS games, including the national championship game.

    In 2011-2012, ESPN and its partner ABC broadcast thirty-three of the thirty-five college bowl games. Which is to say that for all intents and purposes ESPN, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company, the most successful spinner of dreams and fables in world history, owns college football as a commercial entity.

    Because ESPN essentially owns college football, the SEC agenda it pushes invariably sets the tone followed by other media. In February 2011, more than half a year before the start of the football season, ESPN placed three southern teams in its top-five ranking for 2011 and published an Internet story beneath the headline, "SEC teams dominate early look at 2011." The story referred to the rankings as though they were the result of some organic process.

    A more honest headline would have been: "We've invested $2.25 billion in the SEC and we've decided to tell you, yet again, that SEC teams will dominate college football. Surprised?"

    This is also why in June, as soon as SEC presidents and athletic directors announced their support of a four-team playoff -- so long as that four-team playoff might include the theoretical possibility that all four teams would come from the SEC, rather than from an equal dispersal of conference champions -- ESPN's flagship opinion show Pardon the Interruption instantly sanctified the decree by stating, "I'm in agreement this time with the SEC" (co-host Michael Wilbon) and, "I'm in agreement, too ... because as you know it's all about the Benjamins." (Fill-in co-host Jackie MacMullan.)

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    Here's how the self-fulfilling BCS prophecy breaks down in the SEC's favor over the course of a season.
    The preseason top twenty-five is stocked with the usual high-profile teams from across the country -- teams, not coincidentally, already scheduled for heavy broadcast exposure. Thanks to its gaudy TV contracts, many of these ranked teams come from the SEC.

    Once the season is underway, if a highly ranked SEC team beats another highly ranked SEC team, the winner rises higher in the polls than it might normally, based on the fact that it's just beaten a "top-tier" team from the country's "elite" conference. By the same coin, the losing SEC team in this scenario doesn't drop as far as it might otherwise, since, after all, it has lost to a presumably powerful "top-tier" team from the country's "elite" conference.

    When "good" SEC teams suffer losses in league play, this allegedly proves how tough the SEC is from top to bottom. If an SEC leader wins all of its league games, this allegedly proves how great that team is, given that it somehow managed to go undefeated against a monster SEC schedule -- ignored is the fact that SEC teams have pulled off this putative miracle for the last four straight seasons.

    For God's sake, it's tougher to go undefeated in the Colonial Athletic Association than it is in the SEC.
    If the same things happen in other conferences, however, the collective football media reverse the logic, claiming that if, say, a Mountain West Conference league leader loses to a lower-ranked Mountain West team, this merely proves how bad that losing team is, not how good the Mountain West is. In the same way, if a league leader goes undefeated in the Mountain West, the feat is said to merely demonstrate how weak the conference is, not accepted as proof of the strength of the unbeaten team.

    Though its teams are rarely given the opportunity, the Mountain West, not the SEC, has the highest winning percentage of any conference in BCS bowl games (.750), even though its teams travel further to play in BCS games than just about any others and with fewer supporting fans.

    The double standard also allows non-conference victories rolled up by "champions" such as the 2009 Alabama Crimson Tide against the likes of Florida International, North Texas, and Tennessee-Chattanooga to be regarded as evidence of gridiron distinction by those inside the solipsistic cocoon of the self-congratulatory SEC echo chamber.

    As though empirical evidence is akin to fossil records and climate change data, it's as if no one in the evangelical South is capable of copping to the evidence at hand. In the 2010-11 bowl season, for instance, the SEC posted a .500 record (5-5), same as the then Pac-10 and MAC, slightly worse than the Big East (4-2), and slightly better than the ACC (4-5). Those results moved the wonks at statistical aggregator SportsRatings to report, "In the end, no conference really dominated the bowl season, with most leagues overperforming [Big Ten] or underperforming [SEC] only marginally against expectations."

    Despite this underwhelming performance, however, the 2011 preseason table was set up once again to facilitate an SEC title run based on an utterly manufactured and bogus perception of strength.

    The chicanery is only getting worse. The most bald-faced example of poll rigging occurred in 2011 when the Pac-12's then number-three-ranked Oregon Ducks lost a September game in Dallas to then number-four-ranked LSU by a score of 40-27. Following the defeat, the Ducks dropped 10 spaces in the polls, to number 13.

    With the demotion, Oregon's championship hopes were essentially obliterated from the first week of the season.

    Fine. This is the way it goes in a college football's "every game counts" season.

    When the SEC's then #2 Alabama Crimson Tide lost at home to #1 LSU in November, however, it dropped only one space in the polls, to number three.

    I was in the stadium for that 2011 alleged "game of the century" between LSU and Alabama, traveling to Tuscaloosa and paying out the ass for a scalped ticket because I was eager to see how mighty legends of the SEC take care of business at home.

    It turned out to be a tough night for Alabama fans. The home team eked out only two field goals while converting on just three of eleven third-down opportunities and passing for a Pee Wee football-style 91 yards on nine total completions.

    While LSU fans celebrated their 9-6 win in The Houndstooth Sports Bar after the game, I watched as pundits on ESPN went right to work setting up expectations of an LSU-Alabama title game rematch, virtually ignoring the Tide's dismal performance. The original "E" in ESPN stood for "entertainment," after all. Sports have always been a secondary concern.

    Within two weeks, just-beaten Alabama had been scooted back up to number two behind top-ranked LSU, and yet another SEC team (Arkansas) had been quickly installed at number three, thus ensuring that no matter what happened next, the SEC would be guaranteed a national title. The system of propaganda reached its torrid, circle-jerk climax with the 2012 BCS title game between LSU and Alabama.

    Computer programmers have a term for formulas that rely on flawed or biased original data: GIGO. Garbage in, garbage out. Relying as it does on a garbage premise from the get-go, the entire BCS formula is incapable of producing anything other than garbage results. This will become even more true, not less so, with the additional variables introduced by a four-team playoff.

    My overall argument here is not that the SEC sucks. Clearly, it does not.

    My argument is simply that if you look at results on the field -- not guesswork from writers, network suits, and BCS computers -- teams from the major conferences, and some schools from smaller conferences, are actually a lot more evenly matched than most fans believe.

    Despite being approximately equal to other conferences in most quantifiable categories, the SEC and other southern schools are unfairly presented with championship opportunities and favors on what is far from a level playing field.

    The SEC is better than other conferences at media manipulation and pretending that fiction is fact and fact is fiction. But as a top-to-bottom conference it is not better at football. The numbers bear that out.

    -- Adapted by permission from Better Off Without 'Em by Chuck Thompson. Copyright (c) 2012 by Chuck Thompson. Published by Simon & Schuster, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

    -- Chuck Thompson is the author of five books and a former features editor with Maxim. His writing has appeared in numerous places, including Outside, Esquire, Men's Journal and the Los Angeles Times. He's currently the executive editor of


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    No Excuses,'' 11 x National Campions anyday,anytime ,anywhere.

  • Can't blame ESPN/SEC, or anybody else, for what happened to that offense against Stanford.

    USCw was the #1-2 team.

  • BamaOnLine


  • Bro. Do you really have an issue with South Carolina, Bama, or Florida being in the top ten? All three are undefeated and have looked pretty good so far.

    You can make the argument that maybe LSU should have fallen, but they lost to a good team on the road. Only other team thats beaten them the last two years was the national champs.

    I know you are sick of the SEC, but these teams keep winning.

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  • If the first poll of the season was released today, I bet you it would be very similar to the polls today. USC lost to Stanford. Handle your business and you control your own destiny.

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    2009, 2011, 2012 Champs

  • Makes sense and yet doesn't matter. Beat them in a title game and then we can talk. Other conferences get the same opportunities to not lose games and the same month long break to prepare and still lose. At some point it has to come down to what happens on the field. Last year for example, everyone knew Bama and LSU were the best 2 teams and yet if OSU doesn't lose inexplicably to Iowa St, they would've gotten in over Bama. Was no set in bias for Bama among voters even though they knew Bama was the best team in the country. OSU blew their unbeaten chance and with a loss and all things equal, their resume wasn't better than Bama's. Any argument can be made to fit a certain principle with facts and yet other facts can blow the argument out of the water. It just matters what facts a person chooses to look at to fit their agenda.

    In business, doesn't the company with the best business plan usually end up the most profitable? Maybe the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac 12 needs to get better business plans and better businessmen leading them. Don't hate the leaders, hate the followers. Is it the SEC's fault that they had the better business plan at an earlier time than the other conferences?

  • anyone actually read all that? cliffs?

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  • it is what it is .their games are unwatchable 3yds.and a cloud of dust ,no offense whatsoever and they claim it's because their defenses are good yea!right chicken or the egg poor offenses or good defenses ? the deck is stacked against the rest of the CFB teams and you know it.just keep it real.

    This post was edited by trojanfolife 21 months ago

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    No Excuses,'' 11 x National Campions anyday,anytime ,anywhere.

  • Nope, just the first paragraph. What is it with some posters writing essays on here?

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    2009, 2011, 2012 Champs

  • try playing a game outside the ''Bible Belt" and not in your own backyard once in awhile.for ex. UF vs, OSU in Jacksonville FL. REALLY!!!!! LSU in the Superdome,Georgia in the Georgia Dome.and ''NO'' Dallas is not a neautral site.

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    No Excuses,'' 11 x National Campions anyday,anytime ,anywhere.

  • what's wrong u can't read or is it A.D.D?shrug

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    No Excuses,'' 11 x National Campions anyday,anytime ,anywhere.

  • That was the longest display of jealousy I have ever seen. In every case you pointed out teams from other conferences had their chance to prove ESPN wrong. In every year they didn't do it. What else do you want? Even last year the perfect storm had to occur for a rematch to happen and it did. ESPN didn't lose to ISU or Stanford. And if you are an honest person the loss to ISU was a worse loss than a OT loss to the #1 team in the country who everyone agreed had the hardest schedule in the nation last year. So the people you can be mad at is the teams that didn't Win. RTR!

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    Alabama Certified BootyoLogist!

  • I read the first paragraph and then I realized you wrote a novel. If I wanted to read a book, I wouldn't be posting on a message board.

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    2009, 2011, 2012 Champs

  • no doubt with u it's definitely A.D.D. Your a Husker ,Green bay,and Miami sports fan Huh? what's wrong can't stay in more than 1 place too long?or cow tipping in Nebraska isn't hip anymore? just saying.

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    No Excuses,'' 11 x National Campions anyday,anytime ,anywhere.

  • Because ESPN only scored 14 points against Stanford. Hater.

    -Air Traffic Controller for the greatest Air Force in the world-

  • USC scored 14 against Stanford. Arizona scored 48 against Stanford. How would you describe USC's offense? Only Duke scored less (13) than USC against Stanford.

  • BamaOnLine


    What's the problem with Alabama,South Carolina and Florida being in the Top 10? Can you make a legit case for them not being in the top 10? LSU, there's an argument for or against but the other 3? Jesus. I have never seen one fan base whine as much as the Trojans about this. Texas,OU,Oregon, Ohio State and a couple others have had their chance to knock the SEC down a peg and have failed. Stfu.

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  • 247Sports


    SEC is Brennan and Dale

    everybody else is Derek

    step brothers shoulder pain

    derek gets punched in the face and falls out of the tree house
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  • I didnt read most of the original post, but those 3 teams all belong in the top 10 more than Southern Cal does

  • I think it was actually LSU 41 Washington 3, but it was still bad enough

  • Look at SEC fan all butt hurt .I know the truth hurts but it is what it is, the article definitely struck a nerve I see.

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    No Excuses,'' 11 x National Campions anyday,anytime ,anywhere.

  • BamaOnLine


    Why don't you post the amount of points scored for SEC teams that have participated in BCS National Title bowl games. Here, I'll help.....
    2007.....Florida 41 points
    2008.....LSU 38 Points
    2009.....Florida 28 points
    2010....Alabama 37 points
    2011....Auburn 22 points
    2012...Alabama 21 points

    Opponents scored
    2012.....0 ( LSU scored around 37 PPG throught the season)

    So yeah, The SEC has proven that its best team is killing other conferences best teams. Outside of 2011, The SEC is beating their opponents by double digits in the NC game.

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  • Just about any team from a BCS conference that wins out will be in the national title. You have to take care of your own business.

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  • BamaOnLine


    If "the truth hurts" means posting stats and facts to poke holes in all that theory then yeah, "that truth hurts" I guess.

    Here's an idea.....Beat Stanford and USC would have a chance. They'd get beat but at least they'd get their turn.

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  • It certainly isn't on-field performance. Judging by inter-conference records -- that is to say actual games as opposed to media guesswork and bestowed rankings -- the SEC plays other BCS conferences about equally. Witness the record since the start of the BCS era in 1998:

    SEC vs. PAC-12 regular season: 10-12
    SEC vs. PAC-12 bowl games: 1-0
    SEC vs. Big 12 regular season: 6-10
    SEC vs. Big 12 bowl games: 21-8
    SEC vs. ACC regular season: 42-36
    SEC vs. ACC bowl games: 16-9
    SEC vs. Big 10 regular season: 7-4
    SEC vs. Big 10 bowl games: 19-19
    SEC vs. Big East regular season: 16-15
    SEC vs. Big East bowl game: 3-8

    The record is clear. In head-to-head match-ups against other major conferences, the SEC has either a combined losing record or one that's generally only a little better than even.

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    No Excuses,'' 11 x National Campions anyday,anytime ,anywhere.

  • I just skiimed the article, but the comparison it makes between Oregon and Alabama after their losses to LSU might be the most idiotic thing I have ever read. Oregon lost to LSU the first week of the season when most other teams were undefeated. LSU pretty much dominated the game anyway. When Alabama lost to LSU, most teams already had 1 loss or more. That game also went into overtime. It is just common sense that Alabama wouldnt fall as far