Friday, September 21, 2007

SEC – PAC Ten “Controversy”

SI.com’s Bill Trocchi further fans the flames of the totally media created controversy as to which conference is the superior Alpha Dog - the SEC or PAC 10.

As Trocchi points out, the debate has spread to (*gasp*) the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated (a seemingly inconceivable leap from the pages of SI.com).

Instead of waiting until we really have some more actual evidence (other than Tennessee losing to Cal), Trocchi cites Austin Murphy’s personal witness of the “destruction” of Nebraska by USC (because, of course, games “personally witnessed” have more authority than those merely seen on TV) as evidence of PAC 10 domination. However, according to Trocchi, Murphy still has the audacity to think the SEC is “deeper” than the PAC 10.

There will be controversy.
We will beat it into you.
.
Not satisfied to merely offer opinion of that which is currently indeterminable, Trocchi then creates a thoroughly illogical way of comparing the conferences. In Trocchi’s scheme, he takes the present rankings of the SEC and PAC 10 teams in SI.com’s current 119 rankings (because there is no subjective opinion there), and matches the teams of each conference that are most comparably ranked. Of course, there is the small inconvenience of 12 SEC teams versus 10 PAC Ten teams, so he “throws out” the “mid-ranked” SEC teams of Kentucky and Arkansas for the comparison.

Finally, he has some Vegas odds maker put lines on the ten team match-ups. Voila! The PAC 10 wins 5-4-1. They must be the tougher conference.

Huh?

Beyond the fact that throwing out Arkansas and Kentucky is purposefully biased to get a certain result, Trocchi artfully ignores the very rankings he relies on to make his claim. Let’s first take a look at the SEC and PAC 10 teams in SI.com’s top 20

1. USC
2. LSU
4. Florida
7. Cal
13. Oregon
14. Alabama
15. South Carolina
16. Georgia
17. Arkansas
20. Kentucky

So, for SI.com’s own top 20, we have 3 PAC 10 teams, and 7 SEC teams, including 2 teams Trocchi chooses to “throw out”.

If we have to equate the conference numbers, why not throw out the two worst SEC teams? It’s not like SEC teams can choose not to play Arkansas or Kentucky.

Next, let’s look at SI.com’s remaining rankings for the other 12 PAC Ten – SEC teams –

28. Washington
29. Arizona State
32. Tennessee
46. Vanderbilt
47. Washington State
52. Mississippi State
55. Auburn
57. UCLA
60. Oregon State
69. Ole Miss
81. Arizona
91. Stanford.

The worst SEC team, per SI.com, is 12 slots better than the second worst PAC 10 team, and 22 slots better than the worst. UCLA is worse than Auburn, and Oregon State barely better than Ole Miss.

Oh yes, there is this -
Average SEC team rank -28.5
Average PAC Ten team rank - 41.4

Were we to eliminate the two worst SEC teams (Auburn and Ole Miss), and redo Trocchi’s match-ups, we would have –

USC v LSU
Florida v Cal
Oregon v Alabama
South Carolina v Washington
Georgia v Arizona State
Arkansas v Washington State
Kentucky v UCLA
Tennessee v Oregon State
Vanderbilt v Arizona
Mississippi State v Stanford

Based on what we have seen so far, the SEC would likely be favored 8-2 in these match-ups (and that’s making USC and Oregon favored over LSU and Alabama).

But how about a look at the non-conference games that have actually occurred?

Thus far in 2007, the SEC has played 21 non-conference games to the PAC Ten’s 26. (The SEC has had more conference games than the Pac 10). In those contests, the results are –

SEC: 18-3

PAC Ten: 20-6

Most of these games were, of course, “body-bag” games. Notable wins include –

SEC

LSU over Virginia Tech 48-7
Kentucky over Louisville 40-34

PAC 10

USC over Nebraska 49-31
Cal over Tennessee 45-31

All the losses include –

SEC

Cal over Tennessee 45-31
South Florida over Auburn 26-23
Missouri over Ole Miss 26-23


PAC Ten

Utah over UCLA 44-6
Cincinnati over Oregon State 34-3
Ohio State over Washington 33-14
Wisconsin over Washington State 42-21
BYU over Arizona 20-17
New Mexico over Arizona 29-27

By the weight of the losses, the SEC’s record appears better.

Finally about the loss of Tennessee to Cal. According to the pollsters, Cal is the second best team in the PAC 10, while Tennessee is the 8th best SEC team. The second best SEC team, Florida, put a far more convincing beating on the Vols than Cal did, for whatever that is worth.

Finally, I don’t necessarily think the SEC is superior to the PAC 10 at this point in time. We simply don’t have enough evidence to decide. However, the sports media will not be deterred from “The Storyline”, which has USC facing LSU in the BCS Title game.

Because at this point, all this “controversy” is merely the selling of that assumed “title game”.

3 comments:

Jason said...

It's an easy storyline for them to write. The Big East is improving, making it less likely there will be an undefeated champ, the Big 10 is having a bad, bad year, and the Big 12...well...

Hell, even if we survive to defend, they get to keep the storyline intact and simple stick out name there in place of LSU. If USC drops, they can switch to the Oklahoma-LSU rematch story, with the "USC gets close but can't get it done" sidestory, from this year and last.

Their only real fear is that we win out and USC drops. "Bob Stoops vs his old team" might have made a good story at one time, but he was only DC for 3 years, and that was, what, 8 seasons back now?

Anonymous said...

Geez, we win a National championship and still nobody gives us any respect. That will never change, but I could care less; Gator-haters can kiss my ass.

Back on topic, the Big Ten is a weak conference this year - with the exception of Wisconsin and Penn State so far they really have no punch. Oklahoma is at the top in the Big 12 now, but I also see Nebraska refueled after that loss and Missouri surprising a lot of folks. Hell, even Baylor's winning right now!

USC, Cal and Oregon are carrying the Pac-10 right now, but what about the others?

Agreed the Big East is improving with West Virginia and Rutgers ranked at this time, Louisville may not be as strong as they were with Bobby Petrino as their head coach. Cincinnati's rebuilding as is Pitt.

Still you're right, Mergz. We're only three weeks into the season, and it's really too early to tell but if at this juncture we're getting a "sneak preview" I'd be imclined to pick the SEC as the stronger of the two.

Henry Gomez said...

Any comparison that throws out the "middle two teams" is DOA in my book. It's probably those middle two teams (the median) that should be compared to to the middle two teams from the PAC 10.