At the SEC Media Days, Alabama head coach Nick Saban said Florida State is built like an SEC team.
At the ACC Football Kickoff, Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher insisted the ACC is the nation’s best conference.
And once again, the debate about which conference is college football’s best heated up this summer. Thankfully, the season is almost upon us, so we can get past this foolishness ... or maybe not.
For some reason, the conference debate is one that comes up over and over again in college football. We don’t really do that in any other sport. Maybe a little in college basketball once the NCAA Tournament rolls around or in the NBA about the Eastern Conference or Western Conference, but no one focuses on whether the NL or AL is better in Major League Baseball or the NFC or AFC is better in the NFL.
In college football, the debate about which is better — the SEC, ACC, Pac-12, Big 12 or Big Ten — seems to come up every summer, every season and every bowl season. Hopefully, one of these days, people will wise up and realize just how silly it is.
Yes, the SEC is great, has been for many years and will continue to be. And yes, the ACC has gotten better in recent years. The Pac-12, Big 12 and Big Ten have their own terrific teams and virtues, as well. But the focus should be on the individual teams instead of conference affiliation.
Let’s look at the SEC and ACC for examples just because those conferences are the focus for us here in the Southeast.
For many years, we’ve heard the “SEC, SEC” chants and the argument that one SEC team winning helps the other SEC teams. Well, look at Alabama’s dominance since Saban became the Crimson Tide’s head coach. Has that helped the other SEC powers get closer to a national title? Do Florida, LSU, Auburn, Tennessee or Georgia feel like championship contenders?
Well, none of those teams reached double-digit wins last year, and three (Florida, LSU and Georgia) have changed head coaches in recent seasons, while a fourth (Tennessee) has a head coach a lot of fans would like to see head out the door.
Alabama’s dominance is great for the Crimson Tide and their fans, but it hasn’t really done much for the other 13 teams in the conference.
In the ACC, Florida State and Clemson have won national titles in recent seasons, and they certainly have raised the profile of the ACC. But does that help the other 12 teams in the conference climb the college football ladder? It’s actually probably holding them back because Clemson and Florida State are standing in their way. Virginia Tech was the last team other than Clemson or Florida State to win the ACC title, and that was in 2010.
Yet, there are people who will talk about how the ACC was the best conference in the nation last year. It was good, yes. Better than it has been for many years, certainly. But is there really a way to quantify which conference is the best each season?
Last season, most experts touted the Big Ten as the best conference during the regular season, but then the conference had a 3-7 bowl record and Ohio State was blown off the field by Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinals. So was it really the best? Or did it just have a bad few weeks with bad matchups in the bowls?
It’s hard to say, unless you’re just falling for the foolishness.
So be excited about the 2017 college football season. It should be a fun one. But if you’re a Georgia fan, cheer for the Bulldogs and not the SEC. If you’re a Georgia Tech fan, cheer for the Yellow Jackets and not the ACC.
It will be more enjoyable that way, I promise.