The SEC is good. Like really good.
The best conference in football is flexing its muscles once again, but this season feels different. Gone are the days where one could look at the schedule and assume that playing Kentucky or Arkansas would automatically result in a win. No, it’s almost as if the SEC has something to prove after Florida State ended its run of seven straight national titles, and so far, the conference has made some huge statements. Yesterday’s unveiling of the AP Poll showed that five teams inside the top 10 represent the SEC, with the only other SEC school represented in the top 25 being Texas A&M at #21. While six schools inside the top 25 may seem a little low by SEC standards, consider this: the SEC has played a total of 39 non-conference games through week 7 and has only lost three of those games. Vanderbilt lost to Temple in week 1, Tennessee lost to Oklahoma in week 3, and Missouri lost to Indiana in week 4. For those of you keeping score, the SEC West has yet to lose a non-conference game so far this season. That’s right, the SEC West, including the entire state of Mississippi, is ballin’.
While these stats are truly impressive, they expose the SEC’s Achilles’ heel: the best teams in the conference beat up each other, and on any given Saturday a really talented team must go down, and thus, fall in the rankings. Outside of Vanderbilt, there is nowhere to hide in the SEC. Take Auburn’s schedule for example: the Tigers lost this past Saturday in Stark Vegas, but that may be the least of their worries. Gus Malzhan’s squad will enjoy a much needed bye week this week, but their last six games (in order) include South Carolina, a trip to Oxford to play Ole Miss, Texas A&M at home, another chapter in The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry with Georgia, Samford at home, and then to top it all off they must travel to Tuscaloosa in what should be another Iron Bowl classic. If Malzhan can somehow navigate his team through that murderous row of a schedule, then he needs to run for president in 2016. By the way, ESPN’s Football Power Index is giving Auburn a 5.5 percent chance to win the rest of their games and finish the season at 11-1.
The NCAA got it wrong… again.
Before I even begin writing, let me be clear: Todd Gurley deserves to be punished if he willingly accepted money for his autograph, because NCAA rules clearly prohibit him from doing so. However, that does not change the fact that the rule is completely ridiculous and archaic. The culture of college football has changed, and money is flowing into the sport now more than ever before. In some areas of the country, people idolize their institution’s college football players way more than they do anyone on an NFL roster. I guarantee you that people in Oxford, Mississippi have no idea who Richard Sherman is, but they know every fact possible about Bo Wallace. I’m obviously kidding; Richard Sherman is a phenomenal player and deserves to be where he’s at right now, but you get my point. These student-athletes function in a world that has them set up for failure, as seen in the Gurley case. The man the NCAA alleged that Gurley signed autographs for is the same man who went around to most major news organizations and claimed he paid Gurley to sign autographs. If the NCAA is going to suspend a player indefinitely based on allegations, then many high-profile college football players would join Gurley because so many players have autographed material floating around in sports memorabilia stores and on the internet. The NCAA did not give Gurley his football abilities, and they have no right to suspend him over a couple hundred dollars that he earned. The rule needs to change. Fast.