It was hard to argue with the continuous brainwashing about the SEC being the best conference in College Football as they claimed six consecutive national championships, but the immediate success of Texas A&M and Missour over the last couple of years after coming over from the Big 12 as part of the huge conference realignment wave teaches us that it might not be as strong as some may think.
Being top heavy with the likes of Florida, LSU and Alabama for most years doesn’t mean that other teams deserve credit when it comes to votes, polls and standings just on the merit of better teams. People forget about Mississippi State, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ole Miss and others (depending on the season), giving them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to determining the strength of the conference.
The Aggies finished 7-6 on their final season in the Big 12, and many feared it would take them a lot of time to get used to life in the SEC West with Alabama, LSU and others. Turns out Kevin Sumlin is one heck of a coach, and their Freshman, Johnny Manziel, was a phenomenon waiting to happen. The Aggies finished the 2012 season with a 11-2 record, beating Alabama along the way, and destroying Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. Sumlin won head coach of the year, Manziel won the Heisman and A&M finished #5 in both AP and Coaches polls.
This year? The defense lost too many great parts, but the Aggies were still a legitimate force to be reckoned with, being the only team to give Alabama a fight until Auburn stunned them in the Iron Bowl. They finish the regular season at 8-4, including a 4-4 record in the SEC, which isn’t anything to write home about, but it does come as proof that the SEC wasn’t that much of a whole different level for the program, coming from a perceived weaker conference.
Missouri? It took more time to adjust, but now they’re in the SEC championship game after a 11-1 season, including four wins over ranked teams and their only loss coming against South Carolina in overtime. Gary Pinkel and the Tigers finished only 5-7 on their first year in the conference, which included a 2-6 conference record. But that was part of two disappointing years, following a 8-5 finale in the Big 12. It had nothing to do with the SEC – it was mostly about being a team going through a rough patch.
The bottom line? Auburn and Missouri shouldn’t get in to the national championship game if Ohio State or Florida State lose in their conference title games on the merit of being in the SEC alone. Arguing over the strength of conferences will go on forever; there’s no definitive answer. There’s no reason to carry on with the prejudice against anyone not from there due to some super teams over the last seven years.