Posted on: September 10, 2009 12:59 pm

The ACC & Big East

To refresh, the ACC went 15-13 with their OOC games against BCS opponents.  (This is actually the second best win/loss percentage of the 7 conferences examined - second only to the MWC.)

So what is up with that?  We all KNOW that the ACC isn't an elite conference, so lets get into the explanation:

With the ACC, we need to look at three levels of teams.  First we have the bottom feeders: Virginia and Duke last year.  Between those two teams, they went 1-3.  Duke actually mustered a quality win against Vanderbuilt.  But they also lost against USC, Northwestern & Connecticut.  Obviously the USC loss was expected.  The other two losses were a little more painful because NW & Conn are not exactly power houses, they aren't the bottom feeders, but they are not competitive with the top of their respective conferences either.

OK so far, so good, no surprises yet.

Now for the 6 teams that all had 8 wins last season . . . They went 8-8.  A very solid record for the middle of the pack.  They had quality wins (and losses) against Cal & Rutgers.  They had three losses to the top of other conferences such as Alabama, Florida and I'll even throw in West Virginia.  So a few predictable losses, and a couple decent wins, and then the rest of the record gets split.  Again, a solid performance from the middle of the league.

And finally, the top 4 teams went 6-2.  A very solid record.  A little bad news here however is that of the 8 games played by the top 4 teams, only 2 and maybe 3 of those games could be considered games against the top of the other conferences.  The other 6 or 5 games were against mediocre teams.  None that were true bottom feeders, but most were on the lower half of their respective conference.  The two solid wins were against Cincinnati and Georgia, and if you want, you could throw in Nebraska, a nine win team, but I wouldn't.  The losses came against Vanderbuilt - a very surprising season last year, and LSU, a surprisingly mediocre season last year.

So overall, the ACC had a great overall season.  Their top teams beat other top teams, and punished the middle teams from other conferences.  I think a record 10 teams from the ACC went to bowl games - congratulations.  I guess the disrespect shown the ACC of late, (not including after this first week's nightmare performance) comes from the fact that the ACC used to supply a NC contender, and hasn't done that for nearly a decade.  But still, the conference was competitive last year and should be given more respect - they have earned it.

Now the Big East which went 9-9.  A seemingly solid performance.  But upon further consideration, not as solid as we thought.

Consider first the bottom 4 teams last year . . . which went 5-4.  Actually a pretty good record, especially considering that one of those four losses came against the top of the Big 10 - Penn State.  So if we throw out the expected loss, a very respectable 5-3 for the bottom of a conference.  Even if all they played were bottom feeders from other conferences, these 4 teams shouldn't expect to do much better than bat .500, but they actually pulled off a winning record against mostly middle of the pack teams from other conferences.  They should be commended.

But the top of the conference just can't hang with the top of other conferences, at least not last year.  They lost all 3 contests against teams at or near the top of their leagues - including Oklahoma, Virginia Tech and Oregon State.  All of these losses were by the top two teams in this league.  So it isn't like the sorta upper middle class lost to the absolute best teams, rather it was the top team loosing twice to other top teams, and the second place team loosing to another 2nd place team.  The rest of the record of 4-5 was 4 middle class wins and a couple more losses to middle class teams.

The problem with the Big East is that their 'Elite' teams haven't been able to compete well with the tops of the other leagues.  Trully, the Big East has played themselves into a position of ridicule and disrespect.  But overall, their conference has shown an ability to be more solid all the way to the bottom, rather than top heavy.  So in reality, since there isn't the disparity found in other conferences, a more gruelling in-conference schedule would be found in the Big East rather than the SEC which is who we will evaluate in the next post.  If the top of the conference is mediocre, and the bottom of the league is also pretty solid, that results in far more parity, and a far more competitive conference.  What seems harder, Florida or Alabama walking through Arkansas, Miss State and Kentucky, or Cincinnati trying to beat South Florida, Louisville and Syracuse?

Anyhow, we'll talk SEC next.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: ACC, BCS, Big East, SEC
Posted on: September 9, 2009 5:18 pm

Lets review the RESULTS of last season

To set up the discussion of the comparable strengths of the different BCS conferences, we're gonna review last season in great detail.  First of all, I am going to add the MWC in with the other BCS conferences, and I am also going to add Boise State to the conversation.  I am not going to argue why at this time, just know that I will include them in the conversation, present all the facts, and they you can decide if they belong in the conversation or not.

The only way to compare one BCS conference against another is to look at the Out Of Conference (OOC) games between BCS (and MWC & BSU) teams and see how they did last year.  For example, Alabama played Utah and Clemson.  Those were the only games Alabama played last year, including the bowl games, against teams from other BCS conferences.

Just a real quick shout out for Boise State - they beat Oregon, and lost to TCU last year.  Not much to examine here, but they have shown the ability to play with anyone year in and year out.

Now for the combined conference records for OOC games against other BCS schools by conference:
The ACC - 15 and 13 - Not bad
The Big East - 9 and 9 - OK
The Big 10 - 6 and 12 - Yup, they sucked bad last year
The Pac 10 - 11 and 12 - Thankfully they did OK in the bowls, otherwise it was ugly
The Big 12 - 13 and 12 - Not as great as you would expect
The SEC - 11 and 12 - Shockingly mediocre record

So on the surface, except for the Big 10 which we will examine in detail, it appears that there is parity amongst the BCS conferences.  So how did the MWC do overall last season?

The MWC went 11 and 5 - WOW!  Pretty great record, surprisingly so.

OK, so for those of you who are thinking that only the top of the MWC plays any BCS teams, and somehow things are skewed, lets look a little closer, just to get the facts out.

The MWC includes the following teams in order of their rank in the conference at the end of the season stricktly based on number of wins for '08:
1) Utah
2) TCU
3) BYU
4) Airforce
5) Colorado State
6) New Mexico
8) Wyoming
8) San Diego State

Now, lets look at the bottom 4 teams of the conference.  Did they play any BCS teams, and how did they do?  Combined, the bottom four teams played: Arizona State, Arizona, Iowa State, Texas A&M and Tennessee.

OK, now of those 5 teams, one of them was a true bottom feeder in their BCS conference - Iowa State.  But the others were teams that finished near the middle of their conference.  Even Tennessee, which had a horrible year last year tied for the middle of their SEC conference last year.

And how did the bottom feeders of the MWC do against the middle to lower end of the BCS conferences?  They went 4-1, only loosing to Texas A&M.  Everyone says that other conferences are tougher top to bottom.  Really?  When the MWC goes 4-1 against the middle to lower end of the 'power conferences' how do you figure that?  When Wyoming, a team that had 1 in-conference win, can go to Tennessee and beat a Tennessee team that went 3 - 5 in-conference, how is the bottom of the MWC so bad?

These are the results, not opinions.  The reason for this blog is that everyone has an opinion, especially about the BCS conferences and the non-BCS conferences.  But rarely are those opinions formed after careful consideration of the facts.

So how about the top half of the MWC, who did they play from the BCS conferences?

Alabama, Michigan, Oregon State, Stanford, Oklahoma, Boise State, Washington, UCLA, Arizona, Colorado & California

11 Games including these powerhouses last year - Alabama, Oregon State, Oklahoma & Boise State.  That is NOT a patsy schedule.  Only one of those teams - Washington - was a true bottom feeder last year.  Michigan and UCLA finished in the bottom half of their conferences, but were decent teams.  So this isn't a situation where the top of one conference takes advantage of the bottom of the other conferences.

The record of the MWC against all 11 OOC BCS teams: 7-4.  Compare that stat to the top of any league, much less the league as a whole, and you start to get the picture of why the MWC went to battle on Capital Hill over the summer.

The MWC is as solid top to bottom, based on wins/losses against BCS teams, as any other conference in the nation.  I challenge anyone to look at wins/losses and conclude certainly that the MWC doesn't belong.

So let's look at another conference, say the Big 10.  Who did they play, and how did they do, and why?

First of all, the bottom six teams in the conference only played 5 games OOC against BCS schools.  And they lost all 5.  That's the bad news, but the consolation stat is that three of those 5 games were played against teams at or near the top of their league - Utah, Florida State & I'll throw in Oregon.  Missouri and Kansas ended up near the middle of the Big 12.  So the bottom half of the Big 10 didn't play many OOC BCS games, and when they did, they were playing the top half of the other conferences, so no shock that they lost all 5 games.  But still, 0-5 has gotta hurt.  And Michigan is included in that bottom half, so you would think that they could have helped out a bit even with a very poor year last year.

Now for the top 5 teams in the Big 10 - they played a total of 13 games and went 6-7.  Even the top of the Big 10 couldn't manage a winning record against non-conference BCS teams.  Even though the top half of the Big 10 played a bunch of bottom feeders like Syracuse - twice, Iowa State and Duke.  So 4 of the 13 games should be gimme's, and they still only managed to win two out of the remaining 9 games?!?!?  They beat South Carolina and Oregon State.  Woo Hoo.  Not very impressive.  In fact, it is laughable that some people still think of the Big 10 as a power conference.  Based on these results, they shouldn't even have an auto berth to the BCS.  I mean really, 6-12 overall, and 4 of those wins were against the absolute bottom of the other conferences?  C'Mon.

So what teams beat up on the top 5 of the Big 10?  Did the Big 10 ONLY play the top one or two teams from the BCS conferences?  Actually, of the 7 losses for the top 5 teams, two came at the hands of USC, and one each came from Texas & Georgia.  So 4 of the 7 losses are understandable - sorta.  But in the context that the Big 10 can ONLY win against the middle or lower end of the other conferences, if the Big 10 is supposed to be able to compete with top teams, why did they get only 1 quality win last season?  I mean the only thing they can hand their hat on is the win by Jo Pa over Oregon State.  THAT'S IT!  No other quality wins period, even though there were 5 opportunities by the top half of the Big 10 and 3 opportunities with the bottom half of the Big 10.

Bottom Line - the Big 10 had a MISSERABLE season last year OOC.  I am just embarrassed for them.

To finish this entry, let me tease a future post: I will cover the other BCS conferences in the same detail, and there are some other huge surprises awaiting.

Also, I know that one year does not make or break a conference.  But I feel that the times are a changin' and wanted to get on the front end of this change.  My prediction is that the MWC will prove once again in '09 that they belong, and the BCS system is wrong.  Only time will tell.

Category: NCAAF
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