Earlier this week, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops cause a bit of an offseason stir* when he challenged the perception that the SEC was widening the gap between itself and the rest of college football.
(*Meaning it’s actually not that big of a deal)
Here’s part of what Stoops said, via the Tulsa World:
“It depends on who you want to listen to,” Stoops said. “Listen, they’ve had the best team in college football, meaning they’ve won the national championship. That doesn’t mean everything else is always the best.”
“So you’re listening to a lot of propaganda that gets fed out to you,” he said. “You’re more than smart enough to figure it out. Again, 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 all doing?
“What’d we (the Big 12) have, eight of 10 teams in bowl games this year? Again, you figure it all out.”
Naturally, the press had to know Nick Saban‘s reaction to Stoops’ comments. When asked about them, Saban went on a lengthy retort spanning somewhere in the vicinity of five whole seconds:
“I’ve got more important things to do than sit around and read what Bob Stoops has to say about anything.”
Like win three BCS championships in four years? Yeah, he can be dismissive about it. Us? We have more time on our hands. So…
To Stoops’ credit, he has a point. The Big 12 has been especially deep the last couple of years. Conversely, parity wasn’t exactly present in the SEC last season. No SEC team who finished in the bottom seven of the final conference standings beat a team who finished in the top seven of the league. Of course, that’s a little misleading as not everyone in the SEC plays each other whereas the Big 12 plays a round robin schedule, but the point remains. The SEC’s been top-heavy and won the past seven BCS championships. It’s perception is going to be based on what the top half does, not the bottom half.
Then there are the NFL draft numbers by conference, but has John Hoover explains in his aforementioned column from the Tulsa World, ”it’s much the same way: 46 of the 63 came from the top half of the league. The other seven schools produced just 17 draft picks.”
Again, top-heavy. And, in fairness, you could put an asterisk next to the draft picks from Texas A&M and Missouri, both of which had first-round picks this past draft and are only one year removed from the Big 12. That lends itself to another point from Saban:
Saban added that he “really likes Stoops” but added that “people who don’t play in our league (SEC) … don’t understand how tough it is.”
— Cecil Hurt (@CecilHurt) May 10, 2013
Well, A&M didn’t seem to have a problem in its first season — and in a year when few people actually thought the Aggies would do well in any conference, no less. There’s plenty of good football being played outside the SEC, but until someone actually knocks the SEC off the top of the college football mountain — preseason publications are looking at you, Ohio State — the perception Stoops chimed in on likely won’t change.