As Americans, we love the spirit of competition. From childhood, we were taught to excel and be the best in everything we set our mind to. Whether it was reading, consistently making the honor roll, getting our driver’s license on the first try or playing sports, our parents always pushed us in hope that we didn’t settle for less than our best. What is the purpose of competition when there is no one to challenge you? Some of the best competitive rivalries of all-time include Batman vs. Joker, Superman vs. Kryptonite, Lakers vs. Celtics and Alabama vs. Auburn. Rivalries are so important because it brings the true competitor out of a player and the best qualities out of a person. For college football, there are six major conferences: Southeastern, Big Ten, Big-12, Pac-12, Big East and ACC. Though the SEC has dominated on the gridiron winning the last seven national titles (nine in all), there is more to excel in at the collegiate level than just on the field.
The word “student athlete” does not need an elaborate definition. It simply states that in order for an individual to be triumphant on the field, they must conquer the classroom first. In high school, parents were our enablers. Each day, they encouraged us to tune out all external distractions and focus on one goal that being to walk down the aisle and graduate with a high school diploma. The difference between high school and college is simple; in high school your parents motivated you, but in college you must motivate yourself. The life of a college student seems glamorous to a person who is not there yet, but in all honesty college takes a lot out of students. College students deal with many decisions on a daily basis. From pondering do I wake up for class and eat to preparing for a test, college students understand that just like their parents were excited for them to graduate high school, there is nothing better than to graduate once again and this time on the big screen. Like students and athletes are concerned about graduating on time, division one schools are concerned about making sure that they graduate a large percentage of their students in a 3-4 year period. Why is this so vital? It is vital because when an institution is able to graduate 80 percent or better of its students in a 3-4 year period, it is a constant reminder of how great that school is and it allows other institutions to build their pattern from that. So what happens if an institution does not graduate 80 percent or better of its students in a 3-4 year time span? When an institution is not able to graduate its students in a timely manner it brings forth three things: shortage of scholarships, shortage of future students and loss of accreditation. To simple put it, college is fun and playing sports is a privilege, but as the old proverb says “a mind is a terrible thing to waste.” It is great to be 6 feet or taller, weigh 200+ pounds of muscles and make huge plays on the gridiron, but it means nothing if you can’t put your biggest asset to use, your mind. According to an article in the Bleacher Report (Sept. 27, 2011), only one conference is head and shoulders above the rest in college football academically. Here are the conferences in CFB ranked by academics.
CONFERENCES WITH THE BEST ACADEMICS
1. Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)
a. The fact that the ACC is the best conference is football academically makes people want to do a double take, but with school like Duke and Wake Forest you can clearly see why they are ranked that high.
b. Duke is No.10 in the nation academically
c. Wake Forest and Virginia are tied for No.25
d. The average overall rank is 43.25, which is almost 30 more rankings higher than any other conference.
e. The graduation rate is also 10 percent higher than any other BCS conference.
2. Big Ten Conference (BIG-10)
a. This conference is known for more than just the rivalry between the “Big House” in Ann Arbor, MI vs. the “Horse Shoe” in Columbus, OH (Michigan vs. Ohio State)
b. The Big 10 is the first BCS conference with one over the top 100 in the U.S. News rankings. Northwestern ranks No.12 on the list with an impressive and unprecedented 86 percent graduation rate in 3-4 year span.
c. This conference creates a lot of revenue from research grants and donations.
3. Pacific 12 Conference (PAC-12)
a. With the additions of Colorado and Utah, the overall rankings of the Pacific Conference academically have been significantly affected.
b. Utah is ranked No.124 and only graduate 23 percent of its students in 3-4 year period, while Colorado is ranked No.94.
c. The conference as a whole has a ranking of 78.7 academically, with a graduation percentage at almost half (49 percent).
4. Big East Conference (Big East)
a. The conference overall has a ranking of 94.8 percent, with a graduation percentage of 53 percent. (Not bad)
b. The Big East is at a disadvantage when it comes to recruiting big time names, but as schools continue to come and go, the Big East should move up the list soon.
5. Southeastern Conference (SEC)
a. On the gridiron as a whole, it is the most dominate conference in football, but in the classroom as a whole, it is the second worst conference in the nation.
b. Though schools like Alabama and Vanderbilt perform well in the classrooms, violations against schools like Auburn, Florida and South Carolina have hindered the growth of academic production.
c. The overall ranking for this conference is 99.1, with Vandy ranked No.17 and Mississippi State ranked No.157 overall. The SEC needs to close the gap.
d. It takes more than power and speed to play football; you need to be sound in mind.
6. Big 12 Conference (Big-12)
a. This conference has a graduation completion rating of 36.9 percent (This is a shame and a disgrace)
b. The Big 12 has four schools ranked outside the top 100 academically (Terrible)
c. The Big 12 must improve academically if it plans to stay intact.
I know a lot of you think education is good, but I also know your heart is more focused on what takes place on the field every Saturday. So with this being said, what makes college football so special? Could it be the exciting match-ups each week? Is it the hard hits that take place on the field or the big play opportunities that teams cash in on? Or could it be that at the every moment someone is wasting food and spilling drinks everywhere because of all this entertainment? Whatever the case may be, we as fans know that college football is exciting. We go all out each weekend to support our favorite team and conference with passion and pride. What makes college football exciting for the teams and conferences is that each Saturday presents another opportunity for a team and a conference to prove they are the best in the nation. For teams in a conference that want to achieve greatness, it is their job to face the competition each week and win. It doesn’t matter whether the win is a nail-bitter or a blowout, the purpose is to win and keep your season alive. Which is better winning one time or winning consistently? If you chose winning consistently then you are a wise individual. Teams that win consistently or have a 9-10 win season every year achieve four things: a conference title, a bowl bid, a shot a national title and recruiting power. All four of these things carry their own weight. A conference title shows that your team was the best in the conference. A bowl bid is great because you’re not a home for Christmas instead you are on the field competing for a trophy. A national title chance is really huge because it puts you in a bigger light and a chance to bring home the ultimate trophy. It is a known fact that when you develop a habit of winning players want to compete for you. Everyone wants to win and nobody loves to lose. When you win consistently you get the pick of the litter of talented players you want to build a team around. Here are the top six conferences in football, according to how they play on the gridiron.
TOP 6 CONFERENCES ON THE GRIDIRON
1. Southeastern Conference (SEC)
a. 9-1 in BCS National Title Games
b. Won the past seven BCS titles
c. Alabama is the reigning king of the conference winning three BCS titles (2009, 2011, 2012) and 23 SEC titles
d. LSU has two national titles (2003, 2007)
e. Florida has two national titles (2006, 2008)
f. Auburn, behind Cameron “Cam” Newton has one national title (2011)
g. Nick Saban, Mark Richt, Steve Spurrier and Les Miles are the top coaches in the conferences
h. Cam Newton, Johnny Manziel, Tim Tebow and Mark Ingram have won Heisman Trophies in this conference.
i. AJ McCarron, Johnny Manziel and Aaron Murray are the top three QB’s returning for this season from this conference
j. When it comes to O-Line, D-Line and just being physical at the point of attack, the SEC is the conference that you want to be in.
2. Big-12 Conference
a. They have to 7 BCS Title Games (2-5 record)
b. Oklahoma has one national title (2000, they lost in 2003 against LSU)
c. Texas has the other national title for the conference (2005 defeating USC)
d. Four Heisman Winners since 1998 (Ricky Williams, Jason White, Sam Bradford and Robert Griffin III)
e. Bob Stoops and Mack Brown are the top two coaches in this conference
f. Since 1996, Oklahoma has been the king of the Big-12 taking home 16 conference championships.
g. The team closets to them is none other than their Red River Rival, Texas who has 10 conference titles
h. When it comes down to high-octane spread offense and having great passing statistics, this is the conference to be in.
3. Big 10 Conference
a. They have been to 3 BCS Title Games (1-2 record)
b. Ohio State has the only national title for the conference (2002 defeating Miami)
c. The Buckeyes got to the Promised Land two more times, but failed to win (2006-lost to Florida, 2007-lost to LSU)
d. Five Heisman Winners since 1991 (Desmond Howard, Eddie George, Charles Woodsen, Ron Dayne and Troy Smith)
e. The kings of the Big 10 Conference are Michigan and Ohio State. Both schools combined have won 76 conference titles
f. Currently, the top coaches in the Big 10 are Brady Hoke, Urban Meyer and Mark Dantonio. In years past, the top coaches were Lloyd Carr, Jim Tressel and the late Joe Paterno.
g. The Big 10 may not have been dominate when it came down to a getting a national championship, but when comes to Pasadena, California and defending the Rose Bowl, the Big 10 shows up huge for that.
h. This conference has won the Rose Bowl title 45 percent of the time that it has gone there.
4. PAC-12 Conference
a. 0-3 in BCS Title Games (USC won in 2004, but due to sanctions their trophy was vacated)
b. Both USC and Oregon had opportunities to bring home a national championship, but failed to do so (2005-USC lost to Texas, 2011-Oregon lost to Auburn)
c. Since 2000, this conference has produced two Heisman Winners (Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer) Reggie Bush won the Heisman in 2005, but his trophy is vacated.
d. In recent years, the top coaches of this conference were Pete Carroll, Chip Kelly and Jim Harbaugh. Currently the top coaches are David Shaw, Steve Sarkisian and Mike Leach.
e. Like the Big 10, the Pac-12 excels in the Rose Bowl. In 92 Rose Bowl appearances, the Pac-12 has won just over half of them (52 percent)
f. The QB to look out for this season in the Pac-12 is Marcus Mariota of Oregon
5. Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)
a. 1-2 in BCS Title Games
b. Florida State brought the conference its only national title in the 1999-00 season when they defeated Virginia Tech
c. Since 1993, the conference has produced just two Heisman Winners (Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke)
d. The top coaches of this conference are Jimbo Fisher, Frank Beamer, Paul Johnson and Dabo Sweeny.
e. Clemson and Florida State combined have won 27 conference titles (FSU-13, Clemson-14)
f. The QB to look out for in the ACC this season will be Tajh Boyd of Clemson
g. Though the ACC has made tremendous to compete in football, it is known more for its dominance in basketball.
6. Big East Conference
a. 1-3 in BCS Title Games
b. The Miami Hurricanes brought the conference its only title as a member of the Big East in 2002.
c. The Hurricanes along with the Virginia Tech Hookies had opportunities to bring the conference another crystal, but it just did not happen (2003-Miami lost to Ohio State, 2000-Virginia Tech lost to Florida State)
d. The last Heisman Winner this conference produced was Gino Torretta. He was the QB for the Miami Hurricanes when they were still a part of the Big East.
e. The player to look out for this season in this conference is QB Teddy Bridgewater of the Louisville Cardinals.
It takes more than brawn and brains to be the best in college football; you must be able to control the media aspect as well. We as Americans are addicted to television; it fits our schedule perfectly along with shopping, eating, texting and traveling. How do conferences in college football control the media? As a conference continues to win consistently, it gives more networks a chance to broadcast them. College football is comprised of two types of broadcast: regional and national. With regional broadcast, only a few areas in the nation are able to pick up a signal or connection and watch games. In national broadcast, everyone is able to view what’s going on. Each conference in college football has a collection of television networks to broadcast their games; whether it’s ESPN, CBS or the BIG TEN Network. The similarity with college football fans and executives of television networks is they don’t want to watch or broadcast a conference that does not win. In today’s society, time is money and in order to make money you must produce the best and the brightest. The math for all of this has become a great coach plus having good players plus consistent winning equals contracts galore. According to an article in Forbes Magazine (Jan. 16, 2013), there are six conferences that believe in bringing home the bacon and controlling national media broadcast. Here are the six conferences and the bank that they bring in.
SIX MOST VALUABLE CONFERENCES IN FOOTBALL
· BIG TEN Conference (BIG-10)
o Total Income: $310 million
o Bowl Games: $40 million
o Television Revenue: $250 million
o The Big 10 Network, which is 49 percent owned by the conference, has become a huge cash cow.
o With the additions of Maryland and Rutgers coming soon, the Big 10 could inject as much as $100 million into the conference annually.
· PACIFIC 12 Conference (PAC-12)
o Total Income: $303 million
o Bowl Games: $39 million
o Television Revenue: $250 million
o With the additions of Utah, Colorado and soon Boise State, the conference has had some trouble securing cable syndication for its new network.
o Despite this issue, the network is still projected to distribute and average of $30 million per school annually over the 12 year life of current TV contracts.
· Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)
o Total Income: $293 million
o Bowl Games: $35 million
o Television Revenue: $240 million
o The ACC did a phenomenal job business wise in its ability to sign a $3.6 billion TV deal with ESPN, though it was hounded with rumors of realignment.
o With Maryland announcing its departure for the Big Ten, the ACC did a fine job of bringing in Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Louisville from the Big East and Notre Dame from the Independents.
· Southeastern Conference (SEC)
o Total Income: $270 million
o Bowl Games: $50 million
o Television Revenue: $205 million
o One would think that the most dynamic conference in football would bring in the most revenue, right? Well, in this case not so. The SEC is just fourth on the Forbes list of the most valuable conferences in CFB.
o Soon, the SEC will reap a double benefit from being the nation’s top football conference.
o The conference annually maxes out its BCS revenue at nearly $30 million this year, but its superior football play will soon the nation’s richest TV deal for a college conference.
· BIG 12 Conference (BIG-12)
o Total Income: $262 million
o Bowl Games: $42 million
o Television Revenue: $200 million
o The Big 12 may be ranked toward the bottom of the barrel when it comes to revenue, but don’t let that statistic fool you.
o Even with the departures of Nebraska, Texas A&M, Colorado and Missouri, the conference still brings in a cool $26 million in bowl games, tournaments and television rights.
· Big East Conference (Big East)
o Total Income: $94 million
o Bowl Games: $30 million
o Television Revenue: $36 million
o After witnessing coach Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals win the NCAA Tournament, you can confirm one thing that being the Big East is a basketball conference.
o The conference generated $8 million from basketball along with $28 million in NCAA tournaments, but that just isn’t enough.
o Just like basketball, you must bring in revenue for football and with the losses of powerhouse programs including Pittsburgh, Syracuse and soon Louisville along with the departure of West Virginia, it will be hard for the Big East to compensate and make up for it.