SEC is Dominant Conference Now -- But Only Since 2002

by Mark Scheerhoorn
(Nashua, NH)

Nebraska 'Cornhusker to the core...

Well, I was expecting horrible diatribe like you get up north but having spent time in the south in '80s (Keesler AFB in Biloxi) I should have know you guys in the south just plain have more class than most northern states, 2 exceptions being my native Iowa and another being Nebraska.

I relocated to the Boston area 29 years ago and it's a good thing I test out an "INTP" on the Meyers-Briggs chart which essentially means I'm an introverted smart arrogant asshole. Not the personality I'd pick but it fits in very well in the northeast.

I can't argue with your statement that the SEC is currently the best conference from top to bottom. Both the Big 12 and Big Ten have perennial cellar dwellers who make just enough effort to get their share of the conference TV & bowl cash.

Embarrassingly, Iowa State is one of those team. Baylor is another though looking back they appear to have been a poor choice for a Big 12 invitation. They're Baptist Bible college with roughly half the undergrad population of the next smallest school which is probably Nebraska which has around 24K undergrads. Both Texas and Texas A&M have over 40K undergrads. And even these large Big 12 schools are significantly smaller than most of the Big Ten schools.

From the information I've been able to gather Georgia has 25K undergrad or about the same as Nebraska. The largest school in the conference, Florida, has approx. 34K undergrads which is big, bigger than either Iowa or Iowa St but pales in comparison to Ohio St, Minnesota, Illinois or the Texas giants mentioned before.

Please don't take this the wrong way because everything I've seen so far says you guys do more with less. What I noticed is how small the endowments of the SEC schools are compared to both the Big Ten and Big 12.

Nebraska, with one of the smallest populations of any state has an endowment well over $1.3 billion and one of the smaller schools in the Big 12. Luckily for them Warren Buffet lives in Omaha. Also, Nebraska has one past time for which they'll spend whatever takes to rebuild their programs. Much like Alabama has done with Saban. In fact Nebraska and Alabama have often been compared favorably with each other. Both have classy fans and both want to win in the worst way. I say Nebraska will be back within 3 years, tops.

So, overall I'm very impressed with what the SEC is able to accomplish with less money and pretty much resources all the way around. I guess I'd have to attribute that to a strong football tradition from top to bottom in the conference.

Now comes the part where I disagree with your numbers. First, you don't go back far enough. To get an accurate sample set you'd really need to go back to 1967 which is the overwhelmingly agreed upon as the beginning of the modern football (look it up if you have doubts). I do agree that in the past roughly 8 or nine years, the SEC has a slight edge over the other conferences.

I've been studying these stats for years and there really isn't all that much difference between the major conferences over even a 20 year period. I also disagree that SEC has been the victim of BCS bias. On the contrary, I feel they've been the conference that has been the biggest beneficiary. That's a long argument and I'm sure we both think we have the convincing argument but I do know the SEC has benefited by the BCS bowl standings.

I've researched the BCS formula inside and out and while they do use computer models, they negate most of that non-biased data by weighting the human polling so much greater. In short, it's pretty much there for show.

But I predict this will all even out IF schools wanted to spend it on football. If you'd check out the size of the endowments of the both the Big 12 and Big Ten which both total around $30,000,000,000. The SEC's total endowment is under $7 billion.

Next, and I know this is probably a sensitive subject but both the Big 12 and especially the Big Ten schools are better academically. With the exception of Florida and Vanderbilt, the SEC schools rank among the lowest academically. And Nebraska has had more academic All-Americans than any other school in the country. In short, and I'm just going by the numbers, the SEC seems to concentrate less on education than they do football. I know the Big Ten has come out and said they're not willing to sacrifice their academic standards just to win national football titles. Maybe I'm wrong here but it certainly looks that way.

So, while there is no doubt the SEC has been the dominant conference, this dominance only began in about 2002. Prior to that, the SEC actually lost more OOC games, including Bowl games, than the Big 12. I'm not sure about the Big Ten.

Nice talking to you.

Mark Scheerhoorn

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Dec 03, 2009
Endowments Issue
by: Mo Johnson

Interesting Mark, thanks for the post. I didn't realize that SEC school endowments were much lower generally than other conferences. Do you know whether non-SEC schools with large endowments use them to support the football program?

I know in the SEC football programs are very much self supporting; in fact, they usually support other areas of the university.

Interesting ...

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