Anti-Big-10 Bias - Perhaps
You're right, the SEC is the best conference when you take the following out of the equations -
1. Revenue - Big 10 still the richest conference at $22 million pay out per school and size of school endowments. And B10 only getting richer with enlargement.
2. Academics - all Big-10 schools are AAU members and B10 kills SEC in Academic All Americans and APR rates, research $$$, patents, etc.
3. National Championships - 243 for the B10 versus well below 175 for SEC.
4. Balance - there is only one conference in the nation in both the top three in both BCS appearances and Basketball Final four appearances. In fact, B10 until last year led in both areas.
5. Overall Strength of Athletics Programs - unlike the "creative writing" exercise above there are experts that rank athletic programs overall strength each year - NACDA directors cup. Although some people in the SEC think that college baseball actually matters ($NCAA brought in a whopping $5 million in revenue off of the CWS last year - that's not profit, that's revenue), let's leave the ranking of programs up to the professionals, the athletic directors themselves.
Last year both conferences placed 5 in the top 25 but again, the bottom of the SEC placed three SEC teams bellow the worst B10 school and it's been that way every year. Both conferences typically place 4-6 schools in the top 25 only to see Vanderbilt, Mississippi and Mississippi State really dogging it.
The addition of Nebraska - currently 16th or so on NACDA tilts overall athletic strength clearly in the B10s favor.
6. Bowl Games- seems like the authors main argument is not only do we have a better record against the B10 but that the SECs middling teams are better than the B10s best. Well a look at an era where the SEC has dominated college football yields surprising results.
Of 29 B-10/SEC bowl meetings at neutral sites between 1998 and 2010, B-10 took 15 of those contests. But let's look even deeper. In 22 of those 29 meetings one team had a better conference standing than its opponents. In those 22 contests, the team with the higher conference standing won 14 times (not surprising) - seven to each conference. But in the 8 times where there was an "upset", the B10 took 6 of those contests - let me be clear about this, in the eight times where a team with a lower conference standing won, six were won by the B-10. Now on the seven contests where conference standings where equal, the SEC took 5 of those contests to include the two OSU vs LSU/Florida national championships.
As for blow-outs, in the 14 SEC victories over this time frame, only 6 where by more than a touchdown. Seven of the B-10 victories were by a touchdown or more.
All in all, it's a competitive pairing.
Now, I'm not saying the B-10 is a better football conference than the SEC because it's clearly not, what I am saying is that the gulf between them is not the grand canyon as some would have you believe. The truth is that the SEC is better but not decidedly so and that good, middle of the pack B10 teams can hang with middle of the pack SEC teams and have done so time and again and in recent memory.
The BTN, as it pays off its start-up debt, expands and becomes even more profitable will only increase the gulf between these two conferences. The SEC's TV deals are fixed while the B10s are based upon subscriptions to the network.
Lastly, there is one area where the SEC is the undisputed leader - major NCAA infractions. LOL!!!