The Bishin Cutter wrote:
my inclination is that both Mizzou and aTm are aberration this year due to
1. coming from being contenders in a strong Big 12 to equivalently competitive though more top dominated SEC
2. an off year for many SEC teams like Florida and Georgia, and even LSU
Whether both schools went 11-1 or 6-6, the fact that both went bowling (and this being aTm's second time doing so in two years as a SEC school) meant these schools added to the bowl revenue pot. Still, be it a tip-top SEC or a "down year," going bowling and being in the best FBS conference is something remarkable. It took more time for Arky and USC to do it when they joined something like 20+ years ago, and the SEC was not much back then.
Let's hope both WVU and TCU failing to make bowls this past season isn't a routine. TCU especially, since it didn't do much to push the reach of the conference.
Most years, every conference is going to have a few fb programs below par for them, as Huan indicated given Florida and Georgia as examples. Of course, Florida was the big letdown, and Georgia in pre-season was viewed as a national championship contender. UGA did have more than their usual share of injuries for the year.
I'll take Bishin Cutter's point even further. Some of the beforehand posts imply the SEC is 'over-hyped' and saturated with weak teams. "Over-hype" happens, and that is largely driven by TV marketing and a degree of regionalism where interest is higher. "Over-hype" is certainly not limited to the SEC when one factors in the focus given to Ohio State, Notre Dame, etc. And certainly a couple of schools in the B12 have been the beneficiaries of such.
For the "weak team" suggestion, I'll use the one fb program in the SEC that arguably get's disparaged the most and probably get's the least attention: Mississippi State. Mississippi State has gone to four straight bowls and won three of them. They clobbered Michigan in the 2010 Gator Bowl, and this year defeated CUSA Champion, Rice, in the Liberty Bowl by the largest margin of all bowl games for the season. MSU played in the title series in NCAA baseball this past season and has one of the best baseball facilities in the league and country. MSU is expanding their fb stadium to 61,000+, while during the 80s' and into the early 90s', Scott field held 35,000 or so.
OK, getting bowl games is not so difficult anymore. But a school has to produce at least six wins. And I would not suggest Mississippi State is a power program. They are not. Wins against real power programs, such as LSU and 'Bama, are very infrequent. MSU recruits are basically in-state (competing against Ole Miss and some stronger neighbors) and those the big power programs do not usually aggressively pursue. Mississippi State is not going to sustain themselves at the level of LSU and such, and the best MSU can expect is to have a couple of seasons a decade where they mount a serious challenge and get near or barely reach double digit wins. Being dominated by more powerful schools is relative, circumstantial, and certainly situational. Every major conference is going to have programs that dominate nearly every year, and all have programs that struggle just to be mediocre, but in context, much of the time. Miss. State plays and has the talent and depth level as if they are challenging for the CUSA title. For the SEC, it falls a bit short.
The question for the B12 is not how it compares to the SEC. The questions are, can the B12 make it better, and if so, do they want to? For the immediate future, the conference shows they do not intend to expand, so in their minds they have addressed those questions.
SEC I don't disagree with much of what you said. I think you are spot on with most of your analysis. However, I wouldn't say that Mississippi State competes with CUSA talent on the defensive side of the ball. Offensively they have always struggled to get top end talent. But their defense is usually pretty strong. I watched them play a couple of times this year and I couldn't get over how good their D-line looked. As a UCF fan I couldn't imagine what we could do with players like that, physically at least. 6'6 265 at the DE. We have never had players like that and we still do okay on that side of the ball. I believe that if MSU had a half way decent offense, they would be one of the top teams in the SEC.