How to really find out who has a better top to bottom conference
by D. Butler
The only way you could really judge the strength of a conference is by breaking down the caliber of each team in the conference (head to head matchups counts too of course).
I do want to take some time to say that I am very glad that some SEC and PAC-10 teams are scheduling games against each other, although I wish the "powers" of the conferences such as Florida, USC, and LSU would do the same, even if it meant dropping a conference game.
So here it is, and I'll add the Big 12 as well for they have a legitimate voice for being the best conference in college football. So here we go. *This list can change year by year, so it is based over body of work over the past 5 seasons (IE my apologies Alabama, Ole Miss, Texas Tech).
5-Star Programs ( Have a chance to win a national championship year in and year out, loaded with 5-star recruits, big time coaches, the whole deal)
4-Star Programs (Are solid top 10 teams year after year that can truly give a 5 star team a run for their money and appear in big time bowl games including BCS games)
3- Star Programs (Are Top 25 teams or right outside year in and year out. Can beat almost any team in the country when they bring their "A" game, but are not quite consistent enough to be in the upper tier. Bowl eligable caliber)
2- Star Programs (Teams that are not necessarily an "automatic win" for opponents, but definitely not the same caliber as the upper tier. Hopes of becoming bowl eligible with a legitimate shot, typically just making or just missing the cut)
1- Star Programs (Teams that typically win 3 or less games, with not much hope for a bowl game and need a miracle to defeat a upper-tier program)
Now we have the rating system, here are the break downs of the different conferences and their teams. Again, this is based on body of work over the last 5 seasons, so some teams may appear lower or higher then you may think they are worthy of. I will emphasize with 1/2 points teams that are close to breaking through to the next level.
Alabama 4 (1/2) up
Tennessee 3 (1/2) down
Arkansas 3 (1/2) down
Ole Miss 3 (1/2) up
Auburn 3 (1/2) down
South Carolina 2 (1/2) down
Mississippi State 2
Oregon State 4 up
CAL 3 (1/2) up
UCLA 3 (1/2) down
Arizona State 2 (1/2) down
Washington State 1
Oklahoma State 4 up
Missouri 4 down
Texas Tech 3 (1/2) up
Nebraska 2 (1/2) down, down, down
Texas AM 2 (1/2) down
Colorado 2 (1/2) down
Kansas State 2 (1/2) down
Baylor 2 (1/2) up
Idaho State 1
SEC 5*-2 4*- 2 3*-5 2*-3 1*-0
PAC-10 5*- 1 4*- 2 3*- 3 2*-2 1*-2
BIG 12- 5*- 2 4*-2 3* 2 2*-5 1*- 1
Conclusion- If you took the top 6 teams of each of these conferences and put them head to head, the outcome would be fairly even. The Big 12 and SEC are slightly more top heavy then the PAC-10, but the PAC-10 does very well in their top 25 caliber teams, with more then half their conference in that position.
What separates the SEC from the other 2 conferences is their lack of “easy win” opponents, having no 1 star programs in their conference. Vanderbilt and South Carolina have made bowl appearances and have defeated top 15 teams on numerous occasions in the last 5 years, and those are the bottom tier teams of the conference!
These are the 3 best conferences in college football today, with the SEC having a slight advantage in the last 5 years. However, there is not such a large gap between any of these conferences like some people will have you believe, and an advantage can fall on a different conference in the next 5 years.
Like I said, put the top 6 teams or so against each other in the PAC-10, SEC, and BIG 12, and you got yourself a war.