Acker Assessment: Week 10
By: Jon Acker
It seems the big lesson of week 10, especially in the SEC, is parity, and its potential dire implications for the league. We all know how Bob Stoops ran his mouth last year claiming the SEC was a top-heavy league. “So they’ve [SEC] had the best team in college football. They haven’t had the whole conference. Because, again, half of ’em haven’t done much at all …,” said Stoops in May 2013. In the 2012 season, the top seven of the SEC went 30-0 against the bottom seven. That does sound bad, right? But is it?
Dennis Dodd, a college football insider with CBS, addressed Stoops’ remarks in July 2013 and cited an unnamed Big 12 coach who said, “Top heavy is where we were when we played for national championships.” Dodd then points out, “And that’s where it needs to be.”
Week 10 of 2014 has shown that the SEC is not that “top heavy” any longer, and it is having ramifications that could derail future national championships. I used this word before, cannibalization, which is also being thrown about in the media regarding the SEC. If the SEC, or any league, is not top heavy, then there is greater cannibalization. Arguably, the worst team in the SEC West, Arkansas, was one pass away from taking number 1, Mississippi State, into overtime. Arguably, the third worst team in the SEC East, a battered and bruised Florida, dominated number 11 Georgia in a huge upset. Pre-season top 10 South Carolina blows a 14-point 4th quarter lead and loses at home to Tennessee, previously winless in the conference.
Bob Stoops words now could not seem more silly now and many wonder now if the SEC’s worst teams could challenge and prevail in other conferences.
The SEC isn’t the only league going through parity pains. Big mouth Bob Stoops is now finding out those same ramifications with TCU, West Virginia, Baylor and Kansas State, all rising from the proverbial ashes of years gone by as doormats. Do you think Stoops would now prefer the “good ole days” when OU and Texas reigned supreme in the Big 12, with all others stepping stones on the way to a BCS bowl?
Week 10 didn’t shake-up too much of the college football universe in terms of playoff implications. The Ole Miss loss means they will likely drop from the number 4 spot and be replaced, probably, by Oregon. But how far will they drop, or should they drop, when you lose literally by an inch because of an injury? This, again, opens the question of can a two-loss team make the playoffs?
I think it was Danny Kanell (I’m sorry if I am wrong) who said over the weekend that the playoff committee was ranking based purely on perceived team strength right now, but in that final week will then consider regional diversity. If the playoff committee overlooks a better team for regional diversity, then the process is a politically correct farce, and penalized conferences should consider pulling out of the playoff system. To me, it is an inherent flaw and travesty that the criteria even mention conference championships as a consideration.
I’ve mentioned before I am a big fan of the Sagarin power rating system. Through week 10 it has, 1) Auburn, 2) Alabama, 3) Ole Miss, 4) Oklahoma, 5) Mississippi State. By the way, Florida State is 13th and Notre Dame 16th. And do you know why Florida State and Notre Dame are so low? They both have won in lackluster fashion against poor opponents. Florida State’s schedule strength is 40th, while Notre Dame’s is 49th. On the other hand, Auburn’s schedule strength is 2nd, Alabama’s 6th, Ole Miss’ 3rd, OU’s 10th, and Mississippi State’s 17th. Guess who has played the toughest schedule so far? Tennessee is the answer to that question.
Can we have a moment of silence, please, for Texas A&M? How far can the Aggies fall? Incredibly, Louisiana Monroe far outplayed the 12th man and all eleven other players on the Aggie team and had a shot at the end to win it. It seems there is a race between South Carolina and Texas A&M as to who can fall the farthest the quickest. A&M did beat, badly, SC in week one, so I guess the Gamecocks are out in front- for now.
So what does week 11 have in store? There are a lot of big matchups that can seriously shake-up the playoff universe, including Oregon (5) at Utah (20), Alabama (4) at LSU (14), Kansas State (9) at TCU (6), Ohio State (13) at Michigan State (7), Notre Dame (8) at Arizona State (11) and Baylor (10) at Oklahoma (16). Rankings are the latest AP poll.
No sun – no moon!
No morn – no noon –
No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member –
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! –
NO COLLEGE FOOTBALL TRANQUILITY
Jon Acker is the Coordinator for Student Assessment at The University of Alabama and also assesses sports for us here.