Looking at college football
Posted Friday, August 11, 2017, at 11:34 AM
We are inching ever so close to the kickoff of the 2017 college football season. Another year of FBS and FCS powers trying to keep their top spots while other colleges attempt to move their way up the ladder towards prominence. Some schools will see a bit of a tumble after an unexpected year, sorry to any Colorado Buffs fans out there, you’re probably headed back towards a 5-7 season. This year looks to be more of the same for college football.
Everyone has pretty much given Alabama the crown as they usually do before the season starts. Yes, it is for good reason. Yes, it does get old. Yes, I’m personally sick and tired of Nick Saban being hailed as the greatest coach of all time. There is something to be said for the Tide’s struggles before Saban bolted out of the NFL with a yellow streak on his back, but like we’ve seen the past few seasons, Alabama will lose a game or two they should win and shoot themselves in the foot when it matters the most.
But the SEC rules college football. All you have to do is ask around. Sure the Big 10 has made some improvements along with the ACC and PAC 12, but SEC is king, man. They have all the best teams. I’m remember reading a book by some SEC analyst from ESPN Radio and it was about how much the rest of college football pales in comparison next to these 14 teams.
The SEC only had one, yes one, team that had over 10 wins last season, that being Alabama. Everyone else fell a little short of the mark. Alabama’s division, the West, had three teams with eight wins. Let’s compare this to the other Power 5 conferences last year.
The Big 10 had four 10 win programs last year, three of them in the East division and one in the West. However, there is a bigger talent margin between those who have and have not in the Big 10. So I think the SEC can get a pass and say it’s better than the Big 10. Michigan State, Purdue, Maryland and other middling teams might’ve gone winless in the SEC.
The PAC 12 also featured four 10 win teams, including a 12 win Washington team that bowed to Alabama in the playoffs. The PAC 12 has had a good conference for quite some time, but again, seems to suffer from top heavy competition. It does seem like a team in this conference can come out of nowhere to have a great year like Colorado did last season, but we have to remember that the Buffs picked up eight of their 10 wins in conference play as half the teams failed to pick up six total wins last year.
The ACC had three 10 win teams last season along with the National Championship going back to their conference. Clemson bested the Tide in a classic game to bring home the hardware, but what about the rest of the ACC? The ACC Coastal division had five teams with eight or more wins. The Atlantic division had six teams with seven or more wins. So that’s three teams out of the 14 that had losing records, and yet this conference is looked down on against the SEC? Call me crazy, but if more than half your conference had a winning record and brought home the title? I think that’s a bit better.
The Big 12 had a down year. Only four teams had a winning record. It’s going to take a lot of work to get the Big 12 back to where it once was. Without Oklahoma or Ok. State, the Big 12 would be a barebones conference this season, sad to say. Until bottom feeder programs like Kansas, Texas Tech and… Iowa State, begin to improve, the Big 12 will continue to struggle to matter on the national stage.
Everyone seems to think this is going to be the Tide’s year to bring home another title and I disagree. I believe that we’re going to see a dark horse emerge this year to take home the crown. The PAC 12 has two teams that could overtake, USC and Washington. The Big 10 has Ohio State and Penn State as their main threats. The Big 12, well, I guess Oklahoma State this year. I’m not sold on the Sooners without Bob Stoops roaming the sidelines. The ACC will have Florida State as their top dog.
Last season the ACC was the best team in bowl games, taking a 9-3 record in the 12 teams that made a bowl. In comparison, the SEC went 6-7. The Big 10 went 3-7. The PAC 12 went 3-3 and the Big 12 4-2.
In the CFP bowl games, without Alabama, the SEC lost their only contest to a Big 12 team. The Big 10 went 1-3 in their big bowl games, but two of the losses were by a combined four points. The SEC lost to middling ACC/Big 12 teams as NC State beat Vanderbilt and Kansas State beat Texas A&M.
People are quick to label the SEC the best conference in college football, but they’re not. They might be the most top heavy conference in college football. Their middle of the road and bad teams wouldn’t do better in any other conference as we see from the 2016 bowl season. Vanderbilt would still just be as mediocre in the Big 12 as they would be in the SEC.
This is why people have created two divisions of college football with the four 16 team super conferences that put the best of the best against one another and there is regulation like you see in the soccer leagues overseas. Would it create a more competitive and easier to follow college football season? Probably not, but there wouldn’t be all these silly conversations about which Power 5 conference is the best.
If college football found itself going to the four super conference set up, you’d have to divide it by West, Midwest, South and Northeast. It would keep schools like, well, an Iowa State from getting blasted by teams on a regular basis every season despite the fan bases having that eternal optimism that this is the year everything finally turns around.
As far as the 2017 season goes, I’m going to go out on a ledge and predict that we will see a Big 10 team finally stake their claim and win the national title this year. Iowa will pick up another eight or nine win season. Iowa State wins five or six. Northern Iowa makes the FCS playoffs.