The Great Debate
This week’s This and That: the age-old argument rages on, ex-Bucks find homes, King does it again, tired of these kind of goodbyes.
An Endless Debate
For as long as I can remember, and probably even long before that, the debate over which is college football's best conference has raged. The answer has fluctuated over the years and decades with eastern teams and then those from the midwest laying claim to the best. Over the past 20-25 years, fans of southern college football will puff out their chests and proudly exclaim "SEC!!!!!" when asked which is best. They'll not only exclaim it, they'll do it with a sneer and a challenging tone, daring you to contradict them. Well, contradict them is exactly what 247 Sports did recently when they ranked each FBS conference. Here is some of the criteria they used: 1. Top-to-bottom strength of the conference. 2. The number of national title contenders a league can claim in 2018. 3. 2017 results 4. 2017 bowl results 5. 2017 non-conference game results 6. Common sense and the eyeball test. I really like top-to-bottom strength, along with 2017 regular season and bowl results. But, "national title contenders" is really a difficult one for me because, for example, I don't consider Michigan a contender like a lot of others do. Nor would I consider a team like Auburn. So, that one is a criteria I don't put much stock in. Another of their criteria I'm not crazy about is "Common sense and the eyeball test." It is the type of criteria which allows you to justify just about any opinion. "Did you see how great Clemson looked in hammering Kent State?" See what I'm getting at? To a Clemson fan or Clemson apologist in the media, smacking one of the worst teams from the worst conference in the country (I graduated from Kent State and I'm a MAC fan, so I can say anything I want about them) is impressive. If you have any sense, you know it isn't. Ok, so, ready to see 247 Sports ranked the conferences? If you're an SEC fan, y'all better look away; you're not going to like this.
1. Big Ten
4. Big 12
5. Pac 12
6. American Athletic Conference
7. Mountain West.
8. Conference USA
9. Sun Belt
That's right, 247 Sports ranks the Big Ten as the top conference in the country heading into the 2018 season. They feel the conference is loaded with quality teams at the top and is much deeper than the SEC. After Alabama and Georgia, there is a drop off to the remaining twelve teams. Not so in the Big Ten they say. Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin all won high-profile bowl games. Michigan State, Michigan and Northwestern, who quietly won 10 games in 2017, and a vastly improved Purdue add depth the SEC doesn't have right now. The strength of a conference is measured from the first team to the last and the writers at 247 Sports feel the Big Ten is better top to bottom than anyone right now.
SEC apologists, for years, adamantly pointed to the bowl record of their favorite conference compared to that of the Big Ten's as "proof" of the SEC's superiority. After the Big Ten lost just once in eight bowl games compared to the 4-5 record the SEC limped to in 2017, those people have certainly changed their tune. If you take a closer look at SEC schedules and results, maybe it's time to end the benefit-of-the-doubt/free-pass treatment they've benefited from.
All teams in the Power 5 conferences pad their schedule with breathers, but the SEC took it to a new level last year. Conference members played fourteen FCS schools last year. The SEC has fourteen members and played eight conference games in 2017 (they'll play nine this year); that means they played 56 non-conference games. So, one-fourth of the SEC's non-conference games were against FCS opponents. They, also, played eleven MAC/Sun Belt teams. Nearly 45% of the SEC's out-of-conference games in the regular season were played against FCS or the two worst conferences. The Big Ten played just one-third (14 of 42 non-conference games) against FCS or MAC/Sun Belt members; only two of those fourteen games were against FCS teams.
The SEC went 10-12, including bowls, against teams from the Power 5 conferences. Seven of those came against the vastly overrated ACC. The ACC went 10-14 against the Power 5 and had thirteen FCS teams on their regular season schedules; they, like the Big Ten and SEC, have fourteen members. Let's, also, keep in mind that no-show performance by Clemson against Alabama in the College Football Playoff semi-final. On the other hand, the Big Ten went 14-6 against Power 5 teams and are the only one of the five to have a winning record against the other four, including going 3-1 against the big, bad SEC. Throughout the history of college football, there has been an ebb and flow to the balance of power among the regions and conferences. Right now it resides in the Big Ten. Hopefully, those in the media and on the College Football Playoff committee begin to see the meat grinder the Big Ten has become and start to give them the same benefit of the doubt as they have the SEC for so long. I think the conference has earned it...for now.
On a side note, I don't like seeing the MAC listed as the worst conferenced in the country. But, you know what? It's deserved. If you really breakdown how the conference has performed against others recently, the MAC comes up short against all of them. They even struggle to win against the Sun Belt. That's a conference who features such heavyweights as Georgia State, Texas State, and always feared Coastal Carolina. Yeah, it's gotten that bad for the MAC. It's time for the programs in the conference to raise the bar and get better. I like the MAC and want to see their teams, in particular, the Ohio-based teams do well. No place to go but up for them; let's hope 2018 is the beginning of that ascension.
More Happy Landings
A couple more former Buckeyes have found new homes. After not finding regular playing time on either side of the ball, wide receiver/safety Eric Glover-Williams, a former top-100 recruit, left the Ohio State program in September and enrolled at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. According to Scout.com’s Bill Greene, Glover-Williams will be playing at Division II Slippery Rock in 2018. He is able to play immediately and has two years of eligibility remaining.
Offensive lineman Kevin Feder transferred, after graduating a few weeks ago, and has announced he will join the Kansas Jayhawks. Feder dealt with foot injuries his last two seasons with the Buckeyes and never managed to earn a spot on the two-deep depth chart. Because he is a graduate transfer, he is eligible to play immediately and should provide help to a program that has struggled greatly in recent years. He has two years of eligibility remaining.
Some news on a future Buckeye. Garrett Wilson, the 5-star receiver commit from Texas, has said he wants to enroll early and is working towards graduating early from Lake Travis High School. If he does so, he’ll be able to enroll at Ohio State in January and take part in spring practice. Why do I mention this? Because receiver is a difficult position to learn and the Buckeyes will lose, at least, three receivers after the 2018 season. So, getting a talent like this on campus and into the program early will only enhance the probability Wilson will be ready to contribute in 2019.
For the eighth consecutive season, and ninth overall, LeBron James has led his team to the NBA Finals. What makes this even more incredible is the team he did it with this season, because this Cleveland Cavs team is hardly championship caliber. I don’t watch the NBA or basketball in general anymore. I used to watch and play a ton of it, so I do know something about the history of the NBA and its star players over the years. I’ve never seen a player carry a team like LeBron did through this playoff season. Jordan, Kobe, Bird, Magic, Kareem. None of them ever carried a team like Lebron has. When he makes up his mind to take over a game, he’s the most unstoppable force I’ve ever seen in professional sports. The only other athlete I’ve seen, who could do it like this, was Wayne Gretzky. I don’t see the Cavs being able to handle the Warriors in the finals. But, it is going to be fun watching LeBron put this team on his back again.
I, also, have to say how happy I am to see Alexander Ovechkin in the Stanley Cup final. In a league filled with star players lacking any kind of personality, the three-time league MVP adds much needed color. Hoping to see “The Great 8” raise the Cup at the end of the series.
More Sad Goodbyes
Unfortunately, once again, I’m ending with the news of a passing of another former Buckeye. Bill Mallory, the former OSU assistant and longtime Indiana head coach, died last week at the age of 82. Mallory was an assistant for Woody Hayes from 1966 through 1968 and was a part of one of the great staffs in college football history. That staff included Lou Holtz, Earle Bruce and George Chaump. After leaving the Buckeyes, Mallory coached at his alma mater, Miami University, Colorado (where he won the Big Eight championship in 1976 and lost in the Orange Bowl to the Buckeyes), Northern Illinois and Indiana. He coached the Hoosiers from 1984 through 1996. He was twice the Big Ten Coach of the Year and led the Hoosiers to wins over the Buckeyes in 1986 and ’87. The Sandusky native finished with a career record of 168-129-4.
I wouldn’t feel right if I did not mention the passing of astronaut Alan Bean, the fourth man to walk on the moon. He stepped onto the lunar surface’s ‘Ocean of Storms” in November, 1969. He was the last surviving member of that Apollo 12 mission; he, also, spent nearly two months in space aboard “Skylab” in 1973.
Why do I feel it important to mention the passing of an astronaut? Because in the entire population of the world’s history, only twelve men have walked on the moon. Think about that. There are now only four of those twelve still living. I highly suggest young people take the time to learn about these men, that time period, and, not only what they accomplished, but NASA as a whole. It’s a pretty fascinating story.
I’m not going to tell you how many days are left until the Buckeyes’ season begins. I always look forward to the season beginning, but refuse to wish away my summer; too many things to look forward to and enjoy. In the meantime, Go Cavs!!