There hasn’t been much of a debate as to which conference is the best in college football for years. Seven years, to be exact. Since Texas beat USC for the 2005 season’s national championship, the SEC has run off seven straight national championships between Alabama (3), Florida (2), LSU (1) and Auburn (1).
In fact, the games have hardly been much of a contest. Southeastern Conference teams have outscored their opponents in national championships 225-106. That’s over twice as many points as their opposition.
Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops, however, is tired of the media’s love for the SEC. Stoops won’t argue with the conference’s dominance — his team lost in the 2008 championship game to Urban Meyer’s Florida Gators and in 2003 to Nick Saban’s LSU team. But beyond the top teams, he says, the SEC doesn’t stack up.
“So they’ve had the best team in college football,” Stoops said at a fan gathering earlier this month. “They haven’t had the whole conference. Because, again, half of ‘em haven’t done much at all. I’m just asking you. You tell me…
“So you’re listening to the propaganda that gets fed out to you,” he said. “You can look at the top two, three, four, five, six teams, and you can look at the bottom six, seven, eight, whatever they are. How well are they doing?
“What’d we [the Big 12] have, eight of 10 teams in bowl games this year? Again, you figure it all out.”
As a matter of fact, the Big 12 had nine of its ten teams in bowl games last season, but I digress. There is an argument to be made that the Big 12 is a deeper conference than the SEC—only 15 percent of the Big 12 has missed out on a bowl game in the past two seasons while 38 percent of the SEC has failed to go bowling.
It’s hard for Stoops to make such an argument, though, without sounding like a bit of a sore loser. Granted, his comments can be taken with a grain of salt since he was speaking at a quasi-pep rally. Florida coach Will Muschamp said he understood what it was like to pander to the home crowd.
“I’d be saying the same thing if I were in the Big 12,” Muschamp said last week. “I said it for three years [at Texas].”
So, there’s some of that aspect to it. But, frankly, the argument is a tough one to make when your team was dismantled in a bowl game by an SEC team. I’m talking, of course, about Texas A&M’s 41-13 beatdown of Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl back in January.
Nick Saban, of course, had something to say about Stoops’ comments as well, despite saying he had “more important things to do than sit around and read what Bob Stoops has to say about anything.”
“I really don’t think that people that don’t play in our league really don’t understand the quality of our league from top to bottom,” he said. The “animosity” over the SEC’s success, Saban said, likely fuels its detractors.
Giving SEC teams more bulletin-board material is probably the last thing Stoops wanted to do, but watching coaches who respect each other take semi-jabs through the media is always interesting.
The SEC, led by Alabama, is of course favored early on to be in the run for the title again this season. If Stoops wants the argument to truly take shape, he (or another Big 12 coach) needs to have a team that not only talks the talk but walks the walk.