SEC vs Big Ten

Old School vs. New School

By Jason Fryer

Which conference is more powerful now: the Big 10 or the SEC?

With all due respect to the Pac 10"¦ I mean the Pac 12 (thanks NCAA super-conferences); the two most powerful college football conferences are the Big 10 and SEC. Since 1900, the Big 10 has seen 8 of the 12 teams in the conference (including Nebraska) win a national championship, but at the same time, the SEC has seen 10 of the 12 teams since 1934 win a championship in college football. This shows that these are the two most dominating conferences over the past 110 years (no offence to the Pac 12 and Big 12) and has produced some of the best college football programs of all time.

At the same time, though it's great to know the history of the great college football programs, we have to realize that we need to move into the present day. As Pro Football Hall of Famer and College Star at Pittsburgh Mike Ditka said: "those who live in the past are cowards and losers.[i]" One of the conferences discussed within this article is leaps and bounds ahead of the other conference, but before I discuss that question, I first want to examine the current Big 10 and SEC depth before comparing the two conferences.

With the addition of Nebraska to the Big Ten conference, the Big Ten currently has a great deal of history in their conference. With perennial Big Ten powerhouses Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, and Nebraska, the Big Ten would seem to be one of, if not the best conference in the nation, but in fact this is far from the truth in 2011. Currently the Big Ten has five teams ranked in the top 25 (Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Illinois, and the only top ten team, Wisconsin). For the 2011 season, only Wisconsin is a legitimate Big Ten team to compete for a national championship.

At the same time, though the Big Ten will have one (Wisconsin), possibly two (Illinois/Michigan/Michigan State/Nebraska) BCS teams, the Big 10 has a lot of young talented players that will help the conference show a lot of progress in the future. This includes: Denard Robinson (Jr.), Monte Ball (Jr.), James White (So.), Taylor Martinez (so.), Edwin Baker (Jr.), and Nathan Scheelhaase (So)[ii]. These individuals show that with the addition of Nebraska to the Big 10, this is a conference that's on the rise, but not quite on the same level with the SEC.

The SEC on other hand has been a dominant conference sine the BCS was formed in 1998. The SEC conference has won 7 of the 14 BCS Championship games and the last 5 BCS Championships. The BCS champions within the SEC include: Tennessee (1999), LSU (2004 and 2008) Florida (2007 and 2009), Alabama (2010), and Auburn (2011). Like I previously said, the championships mentioned above are history, what about this year? The SEC currently has five teams that are ranked in the top 25 (LSU, Alabama, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Auburn) along with other competitive teams in the SEC, which includes Florida and Georgia.

The SEC consists of some of the best teams in college football this year and at the same time are also set up very nicely for the future with players that include: Alshon Jeffery (Jr), Marcus Lattimore (So), Trent Richardson (Jr), Dre Kirkpatrick (Jr), Aaron Murray (So), Michael Dyer (So), and LSU dominate corner backs Tyrann Mathieu (So), and Morris Claiborne (Jr).[iii]

Marcus Lattimore
University of South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore (21)
against University of Kentucky at Commonwealth
Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky, October 16, 2010.

Also, the talents in the high schools that are located within SEC states are incredible. The Southeastern part of the United States includes some of the best high school football played within these states. This is shown within the high school football rankings with seven of the top fifteen high schools being from SEC states: (Gaffney (SC), Armwood (Fl), Mirmar (Fl), St. Thomas Aquinas (Fl), Bentonville (Ar), Camden County (Ga), and Daphne (Al)).[iv] On the other hand, the Big Ten schools only consist of two high schools located within the geographical region that are within the top 15 ranked football high schools in 2011 (Moeller (Oh), and Warren Central (In))[v]. This shows that the talent pool for the SEC teams is much great to that of the Big Ten schools.

Lastly, there is one other reason why I feel the SEC is currently leaps and bounds ahead of the Big Ten when examining these two college football conferences. This is shown within the coaches that participate within their respective conferences and this is not a knock against the Big Ten coaches but a complement towards the SEC coaches. The SEC coaches consist of high profile coaches such as: Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, Les Miles, and Gene Chizik. All four of these coaches have one characteristic in common: they've each won a national championship. At the same time, the SEC has other great coaches within the conference which include: Bobby Petrini, Mark Richt, Houston Nutt and a list of younger coaches learning the SEC. At the same time, the Big Ten has one coach who has won a National Championship (Joe Paterno) though Paterno's last won a national championship in 1986.

At the same time, there are a number of great coaches in the Big Ten that have become elite coaches which include: Bret Bielema, Kirk Ferentz, and Mark Dantonio and a few great up and coming coaches as well with Pat Fitzgerald, Bo Pelini, and Brady Hoke. The SEC currently has a significant edge on the Big Ten, but with the great young coaches starting to implement their systems, I see the Big Ten closing the gap between the two conferences. These are the reasons why I feel the SEC is a better conference than the Big Ten when examining college football (even though I am a Big Ten fan (ILL-INI).

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