A tumultuous season in the SEC has many outsiders questioning its dominance
Bob Stoops has never bought into the SEC hype, as he would call it. Stoops is one of many that would love to see the conference receive some comeuppance.
The Oklahoma coach takes jabs at the SEC whenever he gets the chance. During an interview following last week’s College Football Playoff ranking announcement show, Stoops casually mentioned that the Sooners beat Tennessee in September.
Why boast about beating a 7-4 team? Simple. It’s the SEC. Stoops is still basking in the glow no matter the overall significance.
As is the case with all coaches, Stoops has an agenda. He wants to promote his program and his conference. However, he might have a point.
The SEC didn’t look fantastic on Saturday. South Carolina lost to the Citadel. Florida needed an overtime period to beat Florida Atlantic. LSU, which was supposed to be the second best team in the conference just a few weeks ago, is on life support.
Overall, the SEC East does not look great. The Gators wrapped up their spot in Atlanta seemingly before Labor Day. Meanwhile, Georgia coach Mark Richt is visiting a prospect during gameweek in hopes of making his shaky status appear more stable. To the north, Tennessee can’t hold onto double-digit leads. As for South Carolina, the Gamecocks are sitting on a 3-8 record and looking for a new coach.
The West Division looks slightly better. Alabama is on a tear but still holds a September loss to Ole Miss, who later lost to Memphis. LSU is reportedly looking to replace Les Miles after their most recent loss to Ole Miss. The West Division suddenly looks like a bunch of good teams instead of a bunch of great teams, as was thought to be the case last season.
So what does this mean for the SEC and the rest of college football?
Other programs grew tired of being dominated. That’s why Ohio State and Michigan hired big-name coaches instead of the bargains that once littered the Big Ten. That’s why Alabama lost to Ohio State in the semifinals last season. Losing isn’t fun.
It’s a given that the SEC’s crown is slipping. However, it hasn’t fallen just yet. That’s because no other conference is worthy of taking it.
The Big 12 seemed ready to step up. Then Saturday happened. Oklahoma State lost to Baylor. Oklahoma barely beat TCU.
Elsewhere, Clemson is leading in a weak ACC. The Big Ten can’t find a dominate team. Ohio State lost to Michigan State on Saturday. The Spartans lost to Nebraska and needed last second heroics (and luck) to beat Michigan in the Big House.
As for the Pac-12, there’s no big-time contender there.
Barring an Auburn upset, Alabama will face Florida for the SEC Championship in Atlanta on Dec. 5. Barring another upset, the Crimson Tide will play in the College Football Playoff. Then things will get really interesting.
Bama’s pride isn’t the only thing what will be at stake. The SEC’s claim to being the preeminent conference in the NCAA will be on the table as well.