There is no clear-cut best "All-Time" conference
by Paul Hrnicek
(Des Moines, IA)
Recently, the SEC has had great success and I give them credit for that, but when properly analyzing all of the facts and figures, there is no conclusive "best" conference. Since 1936, utilizing both Polls (which is the proper way to analyze it), the Big 12 has 18 NCs, the SEC has 17 NCs and the Big 10 has 16 NCs. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NCAA_Division_I-A_national_football_champions)
We could also analyze all time wins, but it's not a very accurate assessment since teams have jumped conferences a lot during the past 100 years. Looking at the top 10 teams in all time wins, both the Big 10 and Big 12 put 3 teams in there, while the SEC only places 2 teams. And, just so you don't use the "our conference is deeper than your conference" argument, the SEC has 6 teams in the top 20 for all time wins, the Big 12 has 5 teams and the Big 10 has 3 teams (ok, the Big 10 is weak!). (http://www.cfbdatawarehouse.com/data/misc/div_ia_wins.php)
So, by analyzing National Championships from both major polls, and by also examining all time victories, it seems as if the Big 12 and SEC are about dead even, with the Big 10 lagging slightly behind.
No need to mention other conferences because none of them have a significant number of National Championships or victories. While USC does have a storied history (10th in all time wins), the rest of the conference is weak, so it hurts them.
If I had to choose, the Big 12 would get the vote for best conference. Back when it was still the Big 8, in 1995, half of the conference (4 teams) finished the season ranked in the Top 9 in the AP Poll! No other conference has ever achieved this feat. (http://huskerpedia.com/games/1995/1995polls.html)
Editor's note: Thanks Paul. Really good info and argument. Of course, I still say the SEC "The Best" now, and even all time, but certainly when you look all-time, arguments can be made. You make a good one. I'll post this as a "submission of the month" on the SEC Sports Fan Forum page. Let me know if you want a free t-shirt.