John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Despite playing only an eight-game league schedule in 2013, SEC teams had the toughest composite strength-of-schedule in the nation.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — If you believe the evil SEC empire is gaming college football’s new playoff system by sticking with an eight-game league schedule, you’re probably envious of the dynasty.

And if you argue that playing eight games in the nation’s toughest conference is equatable to a nine-game slate in those other powder-puff leagues, you’ve probably chanted “S-E-C!” a few times and even asked Vern Lundquist to officiate your wedding.

Funny how the debate becomes entirely self-serving dependent upon perspective.

With the new playoff selection committee congregating this week in Irving, Texas, the five power conferences are each intent on securing an invite, or in the SEC’s case, invites, to college football’s new Final Four.

For the SEC, that meant giving the stiff-arm to a proposed nine-game conference format. Sure the Pac-12 and Big 12 went that route the past two seasons, and the Big Ten is adding a ninth game next fall. But venerable commissioner Mike Slive and his SEC lieutenants are in no rush to conform. Winning seven straight BCS titles and coming within 13 seconds of an eighth has afforded them leverage to beat their drum as they see fit.

As much as other leagues scoff at the league’s mightier-than-thou perception, the grousing over the SEC remaining at eight games only proves how much outsiders actually believe it. They want another week of SEC civil war in hopes its stop teams will absorb an additional loss and curb the conference’s ability to snag two playoff bids.

Thus there was much chagrining when CFP executive director Bill Hancock announced the newly formed selection committee would not mandate that leagues adopt a nine-game slate. Instead the process would evaluate a team’s entire season.

Yes, that’s the same approach generally accepted by the NCAA basketball tournament committee employs, yet it seemingly irked Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, who said: “Ideally, we would all run the race on a similar course.”

A similar course, eh? So all conferences should adhere to the same number of league games even though they don’t contain the same number of schools? That’s a solid case for uniformity where convenient.

Various columnists, and one newly hired Texas athletics director, didn’t think much of Slive’s scheduling caveat: That while retaining the eight-game format, all SEC schools must play at least one nonleague power-conference opponent each season.

You had to love the eye-rolling response from Longhorns’ AD Steve Patterson when he said: “Everyone else already does that.”

And of course he was dead wrong. Three teams within his own conference didn’t do that last season—Kansas, Texas Tech and Big 12 champion Baylor didn’t play a regular-season game against a power-conference outsider. (Heck, Texas Tech’s schedule hasn’t included a nonleague BCS opponent since 2003. And outside of a home-and-home series against Duke, Baylor—with its glistening new stadium on the horizon and its national reputation emerging—has zero power league opponents scheduled the next six seasons.)

We want even undertake the Big 12’s problem under the new playoff structure—the lack of a league championship game. That clearly hurt Oklahoma State’s BCS case in 2011, and could continue to do haunt the Big 12 in coming years when the other league champs (and runners-up) will have played 13.

But back to those grilling the SEC schedulers for taking the easy way out, and why the SEC isn’t necessarily doing that. T’is true the league played more FCS cash games than any other last season, but it’s also true that despite that sprinkling of cupcakes, the SEC led all conferences in composite strength-of-schedule.

Taking a top-to-bottom look at USA Today’s Sagarin ratings, the Colley Matrix, the Massey ratings and the Billingsley report—the four computer formulas published within the BCS rankings—and here was the average SOS national ranking for each power league in 2013:

SEC:  15.67 average  (toughest: Auburn at 5.5; weakest: Vanderbilt at 55)
Pac 12:  16.9 average  (toughest: Stanford at 1; weakest: Arizona at 32.25)
Big 12:  32.5 average  (toughest: Texas at 16.5; weakest: West Virginia at 50.25)
Big Ten:  44.08 average  (toughest: Purdue at 30; weakest: Ohio State at 53.5)
ACC:  50.9 average  (toughest: Virginia at 38; weakest: Maryland at 70.5)

With his contingent of teams having faced the most difficult schedule of any league in 2013, why should Slive be inclined to make the road more difficult?

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  • Aaron

    And in other news, West Virginia's 5th place baseball team, winners of 4 in a row and 8 of 9 host 4th place Texas in the final series at (not so) illustrious Hawley Field. WV, coming in at 7-7 can trade places with Texax, 10-8 by sweeping the series and move into 4th place as they head into the final month of the season.

  • Jeremy

    This article means diddely poo to me

  • Michael

    One last question Allan....Why even put an article about he SEC on Metronews? Give us more articles on the baseball team instead of the SEC. Thanks.

  • 1olewvufan

    Within the Big XII each team plays the other 9 teams, plus 3 games outside the conference. Thus, it is the 3 teams outside the conference that determines how tough a schedule each team plays.

    Ten years ago, you seldom heard of Baylor. Baylor has only became a brand in more recent years. Oklahoma, Texas and WVU these teams have been a brand for years. At one time many of the BEST CBs and Safeties in the NFL came from WVU. And more recently WVU has become a national brand.

    One rivalry I'd like to see start is WVU and Ohio State. Ohio State is a national brand, but its poor scheduling over the last few years has taken a toll on the brand.

    WVU would benefit by having a rivalry with Ohio State rather than Maryland. I'd rather see this match up than WVU playing Virginia Tech. This match could elevate both teams.

  • Alex

    Like the though of the Big 12 adding 2 more teams .... BYU .... Cincinnati ....or Ucon ...would be my picks.... I feel they better do it within the next 3 years or ...

  • Alex

    I too am sick of all the chat about the SEC ... One fact of the SEC is they don't want us ( WVU ) in their league.. West Virginia is not a big TV population .... Also Kentucky is down on us , they don't want anything to do with WVU in any sport .... Heard some talking on radio today about the cupcakes the SEC play each year, it is going to hurt them some time soon , I feel it will too....

  • WV Bud

    Good article,Allan Taylor. SEC is the toughest conference and should do as they want to do.Since WVU cant be in that conference,we should be glad that we at least are in the Big 12.When we can compete in the Big 12, [and WVU will eventually] then we can handle SEC teams.Lets start by beating the Tide.

  • northforkfisher

    I wish WVU would replace Vanderbilt in the SEC. WVU belongs with the southern states in the South Eastern Conference. Playing and winning in the SEC would boost money, bowl appearances, and recruiting top notch players.

  • K.State fan

    You wvu fans are cry baby you all can never beat the wildcats and the big 12 needs BYU and Ucon

  • Couz


    It's obvious your heart is still in the SEC. While your facts may be true (I don't know enough about the topic to argue) the way you prop up the SEC makes me wanna vomit!! But, like you said, it's only because I cannot stand the SEC.

    On another note, I fear that if the Big 12 doesn't add at least 2 more quality schools and have a conference championship game, they could eventually get left out by the other 4 power conferences.

  • TruthTeller

    NEWS UPDATE!!! WVU is in the Big 12 not the SEC. No WVU fan wants to read articles about the SEC. So please stop posting articles about the SEC. All the other networks and papers write and talk enough about the SEC. That is all you hear about is the SEC. This is the Mountaineer nation and we don't want to read or hear about the SEC.

  • VaultHunter

    I have been a fan of this site and coming here for WVU news for a very long time.

    With that being said this constant attempt to bash WVU and its new conference home the Big 12 is getting old.

    Immature comes to mind but that's only because I can't truly say what I want to.

    Lets Go Mountaineers!

    Lets Go Big 12!

    Lets Go IMG!

    • Ok

      So spring practice is done... A position by position breakdown was over the last few weeks in football so what else is there to talk about besides college football scheduling and the playoffs? Also, are you looking for an all the time sunshine pumping all is great with the gold and blue news site? That's certainly not reality which is much more preferred than fantasy.

  • VaultHunter

    One more thing to shatter your argument. How are the two former bottom feeders of the Big 12 (Missouri Texas ATM) doing in their new conference? A lot better than they were over the last years of the Big 12.

    Coincidence I think not.

    • Rick S.

      During 16 seasons in the Big 12, Missouri and Texas A & M combined for 11 losing seasons and 21 seasons of .500 or better, including five seasons in which they finished first or tied for first. I would hardly call them bottom feeders.

      During 18 seasons in the Big 12, Baylor finished last or tied for last in its division 13 times (the Big 12 used to have two divisions).

      Iowa State had eight last place finishes, and Kansas had ten last place finishes.

      Honorable mention goes to Oklahoma State, which finished last or next-to-last nine times in 18 seasons.

      Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, and Oklahoma State -- now those teams have truly been bottom feeders.

  • VaultHunter

    This article is wrong in so many ways it terrible.

    First the SEC plays eight home games every year no other conference does this.

    Second this would hold true if they scheduled tough but any fan of college football knows they always have two games a year against AA schools no other conference does this consistently year in year out.

    Third. At the end of the season when all other programs are in the middle of conference play the mighty SEC has a home game the second to last week against one of the lower division schools. No other conference does this.

    Go ahead and buy into thete dominace and pump the SEC horn if you want you won't change my mind

    It would have been great if WVU would have used the vaunted SEC style of scheduling and played Furman instead of Kansas but hey I guess they play so much harder competition they deserve a cupcake at the end of the year EVERY YEAR.

    Go ask Oklahoma what they think about the super dominant SEC and its king Alabama. How many of you so called reporters called that one...don't lie...I'll wait.



    • Allan Taylor

      Three of 14 SEC teams played eight home games last year. ... Big 12 champion Baylor played eight home games last year and Texas plays eight this year. WVU essentially played eight home games in 2012, shifting the game against FCS member James Madison to D.C. for a slightly larger payout.

      • FNP

        Lets face it Allan, you have a soft spot for the SEC. You'll defend them until the end of your days.

  • Rick55

    College football $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$