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  • Confirmation Bias with Grits

    by Mike Coffey

    The SEC is universally recognized as the top-flight conference in college football. Seven of its teams are ranked in the top 20 in the latest BCS poll, their games occupy the majority of the prime-time television slots every weekend, and the winner of their title game is being given a de-facto slot in the national championship game.

    My question: Why?

    I’m not about to suggest they don’t play good football in the SEC. The last couple seasons and the annual recruiting rankings show they do, and only an idiot would believe otherwise.

    But at some point, doesn’t their anointing as best-of-the-best become a self-fulfilling prophecy? When the teams limit themselves to body-bag and conference games, when does “just because they are” begin to creep into the analysis of how good the SEC is?

    Last Saturday, I watched Florida take on Georgia in what used to be called the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party before the PC police got involved. It was a close, tough game. But as I watched, I couldn’t help but think Notre Dame is a better team this season than either of these squads. Part of me wondered if Kansas State and Oregon weren’t leagues better as well. This is the same Georgia team that got absolutely undressed by South Carolina, and they needed every minute to get past unrecognized-world-power Vanderbilt. Florida hasn’t played anyone worth a damn.

    This is #2 against #10? Says whom?

    Yes, Alabama seems to be very good. But is that all the SEC has? It’d be great to have some kind of benchmark, but as I noted above, it’s dead bodies and neighbors throughout the SEC slates (exceptions noted):

    Alabama: Michigan, Western Kentucky, Florida Atlantic, Western Carolina
    Arkansas: Jacksonville St., Louisiana-Monroe (L), Rutgers (L), Tulsa
    Auburn: #13 Clemson (L), Louisiana-Monroe, New Mexico State, Alabama A&M
    Florida: Bowling Green, Louisiana, Jacksonville State, #9 Florida State
    Georgia: Buffalo, Florida Atlantic, Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech
    Kentucky: #10 Louisville (L), Kent State, Western Kentucky (L), Samford
    LSU: North Texas, Washington, Idaho, Towson
    Ole Miss: Central Arkansas, UTEP, #23 Texas (L), Tulane
    MSU: Jackson State, Troy, South Alabama, Middle Tennessee
    Mizzou: SE Louisiana, Arizona State, Central Florida, Syracuse
    South Carolina: East Carolina, UAB, Wofford, #13 Clemson
    Tennessee: NC State, Georgia State, Akron, Troy
    Texas A&M: SMU, South Carolina State, Louisiana Tech, Sam Houston State
    Vanderbilt: Northwestern (L), Presbyterian, Massachusetts, Wake Forest

    I got most of the way through the list before I remembered I forgot to note where these games were on the road. Then I laughed for five minutes.

    Yes, there’s some bold text scattered in there.  But a lot of those are geographic rivalries.  Full credit to Alabama for being willing to at least approach the Mason-Dixon line to play Michigan (in Dallas).  Auburn went out side its comfort zone scheduling Clemson.  Washington isn’t a powerhouse, but it’s a step better than usual for LSU.  And Ole Miss brought Texas to town.

    The rest of it is ridiculous.  Is Florida Atlantic joining the SEC?  They’ve almost got a full conference slate anyway.  Jacksonville State is another favorite punching bag.  I know Louisiana Tech is ranked, but we all know that’s a fluke and the SEC “powers” that scheduled them didn’t intend the tough game they got, so I award them no points (and don’t care what God does with their souls).

    Why does this matter?  Because ND is fighting for a BCS bid, and should they falter down the stretch and finish with a loss, they’ll be up against these other one-loss SEC teams that have been Beating Up On Each Other™. Even if they don’t get left behind, the outcry from Confederacy Country will be loud and drawl-ey. How dare the BCS not recognize the dominance that is the SEC, dadgummit?

    Well, count me among the unrecognizers. Alabama, sure. Everyone else, I’d take ND straight up on a neutral field any day of the week. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to see it.

    73 Responses to “Confirmation Bias with Grits”

    1. Boy, you hit the nail on the head. My sons and I were talking about this exact subject this weekend. Two of them attended SEC schools (SC & Auburn). I’ll even go on step further. I thing it’s a joke that the SEC champ is already penciled in as one of the teams in the championship game. And one other thing, I watched Kansas State on Saturday. ND would kick their butts also.

      • One of my best friends and I were talking right after the ND/Oklahoma game. He kept saying how great ND looked and how stout their defense is. He asked me, “You haven’t really said much about how good Alabama looks. Why?” What would I say? I mean, after watching Alabama (okay, so I am Alabama alum so I keep up with Bama, too), all I can say is, yes, they look scarey, but they really haven’t been tested. You would have thought that I had commited a murder. “That’s all we keep hearing is Alabama has played nobody, Alabama hasn’t been tested… etc.” Then, I hear, “Alabama shouldn’t have to be tested because they are Alabama and they won the #1 spot in the polls because they beat LSU in the NCG.” After shock and disbelief had settled and gone away, I was perplexed by this comment. I asked him, “Well, who do you think they’ve played so far? Outside of Michigan, who else?” And his response was, “We just destroyed the #11 team in the nation.” OKay, that’s a fair statement because MSU was ranked #11 until they rolled into Tuscaloosa. However, does anyone think that MSU would be 7-0 and ranked #11 against ND’s schedule? That is what baffles me. Even the pundits and the talking heads all said that ND would finish 5-7 against that schedule. Now, look where they are – 8-0 and ranked #3 (BCS), #4 (AP), and #4 (USA). Personally, if Florida or Georgia were to play ND’s slate week-in and week-out, I think they would be ranked #20 or less and would have already had two losses each by now. I’m sorry, but I do not think that the SEC is as dominant as they claim. It is a great conference, but not a dominant one for sure. Say all you want about the B1G, Big 12 and PAC 12, at least they play stronger OOC schedules than the “national powers” of the SEC.

      • BTW, Mike, thanks for the article and your analysis. You are spot on, sir.

    2. Agree completely. There are definitely some good/great teams in the SEC, but the media (especially ESPN) love affair with the conference is absurd. For the most part, they only play each other and any out of conference games are the typical bs games that you listed.

      Take Mississippi State for example. They played 4 fcs teams and 3 ‘real’ games against Kentucky, Auburn and Tennessee, none of which are quality teams, yet were ranked #13 going into the Alabama game. So it was another over hyped game of two SEC ‘juggernauts”.

      Notre Dame is and should be ranked at the #2 right now.

      • IrishSoldier says:

        What would be interesting is to look at how these 1-loss SEC teams from the past few years did in their bowl games against non-SEC BCS bowl eligible teams.

    3. “Florida hasn’t played anyone worth a damn.”

      LSU isn’t worth a damn?

      • Mike Coffey says:

        We don’t know. We don’t have any outside confirmation that they are.

        • True…guess we’ll find out this very weekend. :-)

        • Maybe the fact that they crushed Oregon and beat Alabama last year?

          • Mike Coffey says:

            That was last year. ND was 8-5 last year. Things change.

            • So basically all history prior to 2012 is thrown out when judging SEC programs? By your standards Tyler Eifert is no longer good then either? Who has ND played thats “worn a darn” if Florida hasnt played anybody who is?

      • Bob Howsam, Jr. says:

        Can’t you see? Oh can’t you see. What that woman, she’s been doing to me.

        North Texas, Washington, Idaho, Towson? Those schools aren’t even rated in the USA Today Prep Top 25.

        When the Tide hangs 70 on the Tigers, tell me what they’re worth.

        Honey Badger’s bail is worth about a hundo. So I guess that’s something.

      • Hey Jerrod… We know, at least, that ND isn’t afriad to play the big boys. I mean, ND at least doesn’t play Florida-Atlantic, Troy, Jax State, etc. They woudl be laughed out of the rankings if that was their schedule. Man, think about what you’re saying for a minute before berating the writer.

    4. Dave Steinhauer says:

      I had this exact conversation with a friend, who is an Alabama grad, yesterday! She could not fathom that I don’t believe that the SEC is, “far and away the toughest conference in the country” (her words).

      How are the voters really able to tell how good the SEC is, considering that they have played a combined 5 ranked OOC teams – out of 56 games. A blistering 8.9%. Off of the top of my head, I can name 4 teams that were ranked when ND played them.

      Don’t get me wrong, I still believe that Alabama would, most likely, kick out butts, but I’d be more than happy to swap their schedule for ours.

      • Mike Coffey says:

        I dunno … I wouldn’t write us off vs. Bama that quick. Our defense would be better than anything they’ve seen this year so far.

        • Bob Howsam, Jr. says:

          I completely agree. Not only is our defense far superior to any the Tide has played, by the time we get to the title game, Everett Golson and the offense will have had four more games and far more reps to catch up to the D. Plus, we’ll have a healthy GAIII back. This team has a nasty albeit level-headed tude I haven’t seen since 1988. We still have to take care of bidness the next three weeks and beat the Trojans in the Coliseum, but if get to play the Tide at a neutral site, I have no doubt we’ll crush them.

    5. You left out some major games for a few teams:

      Florida also beat TA&M and TN way, plus LSU and SoCar.

      LSU also has played TA&M, SoCar and still has AL and MS St. In fact, LSU may have the most diffciult schedule of teh SEC teams.

      As for AL, Michigan looks less imposing now than pre-season. They beat MS St, and LSU and T&AM are coming. But, MS St played nobody of any quality befoe AL, and A&M has been erratic at best. Plus, the Tide has managed to avoid FL, So Car, and GA. So, one could argue they have a very soft schedule this year. The game with LSU this coming Saturday will define just how good they are.

      Florida has been a surprise this year, but you are correct to question just how rugged the SC really is overall (at least this year). The same is true for the other BCS conferences. The Big 10 is especially weak (OSU is benefitting from a very soft schedule and weak conference opponents). The Big 12 has only KSt at the moment; the PAC 12, Oregon which only now starts to hit the meat of its schedule; the ACC FSU, which stumbled early.

      The Irish definitely belong among the NC candidates. If they can add some added offensive punch by developing Golson’s passing game further and finish 12-0, they deserve a spot in the NC. They will have swept a tough slate of teams, and their D is proving to be exceptionally solid consistently. The performance deserves recognition.

      • Mike Coffey says:

        I was talking about non-conference games. Defeating other SEC teams doesn’t tell us how well the SEC stacks up to other teams outside their conference.

    6. I largely agree with your greater point. And I almost hate to be this guy, but I just do need to point out a few key games over the past six years in which the SEC went 6-0 against their out-of-conference (except 2011) opponent:

      2006 2 Florida 41 1 Ohio State 14
      2007 2 LSU 38 1 Ohio State 24
      2008 2 Florida 24 1 Oklahoma 14
      2009 1 Alabama 37 2 Texas 21
      2010 1 Auburn 22 2 Oregon 19
      2011 2 Alabama 21 1 LSU 0

      I get your points about this season. But the 6 year BCS championship streak is a pretty solid argument for the SEC.

      • No, those 5 data points (+1 SEC vs. SEC game) show that in those years, the top of the SEC was better than the top of the rest of the conferences. It says nothing about how good the rest of the conference is. If LSU gets slaughtered by Alabama this weekend, it will mean that Alabama >>>> LSU/Florida/Georgia/South Carolina and probably Texas A+M. It’s nice that we can revel in how good Alabama appears to be this year (the slaughter of Michigan was enjoyable to watch), but it says nothing about how good the rest of the conference is. It’s entirely possible to have one great team and a bunch of bad teams in a conference. Boise State has been doing it for years!

        Examine all SEC games vs. other conferences, broken down by conference. Do it both for regular season non-conf games and for bowl games over the last 10 years. You’ll be astounded at the results: The SEC isn’t as good as everyone thinks!

    7. Tom Radgowski says:

      And the inbreeding is getting worse. A prime example is Vanderbilt, who recently cancelled their series with Northwestern and traded down from a 2013 game with Ohio State in favor of one with Alabama Birmingham. Speculation is that they are making room for more in conference games.

    8. JohnCochtoastin says:

      I think the writer here is spot on. In high school science you learn that when you make observations in a controlled environment and limit other variables the results are not as reliable as if the tests were conducted against a multitude of variables. We simply don’t know how good SEC teams are becasue they don’t test themselves using any other measurements besides patsies and each other.

      Credit to LSU last year playing Oregon and West Virginia, but those are the exceptions not the rule.

    9. bandfather says:

      Spot on. The belief on the part of the sportswriters in SEC dominance is based upon that conference’s successful branding over the past 10 years. It’s been a great campaign, and my hat is off to them, but it’s really been mostly talk in the absence of the SEC teams coming north (or heck, even west) to play home and home against some other sectional power. Let’s hope the new “selection committee” process in 2014 will force the SEC to act in that fashion. That committee needs to laugh as hard as you did when those cupcakes are presented as “proof” of how tough the SEC is.

    10. The SEC this year is not being given a “de-facto slot in the national championship game.” If Alabama falters, and the other 3 undefeateds don’t, you won’t see a SEC opponent in the final.

      The rest of that nonconference slate is silly, but how does it compare to what the other conferences are doing.

    11. irishhawk50 says:

      I agree there is a lot of self promotion in the SEC hype. Hopefully things will change for the better with the new playoff format. I would love to see a system where these teams are penalized for playing cream puff games. I can see one tune up game ( speaking of which I would be glad to see ND open with Navy every year with the added benefit having to deal with that triple option offense before the season starts rolling) but three or four cream puff games gets ridiculous. (and yes before someone chimes in Navy has basically been a cream puff game for the last 40 years with a few notable exceptions.)

    12. Really enjoyed this post. I have felt that the sec as an overall conference gets too much love. There is a lot of inbred pummeling but that is used as an excuse for bully exhibitions against tier 2 teams. I am curious to see what happens if LSU beats Alabama – LSU is like the drunken cousin who won’t leave the party and just keeps getting louder as the night goes on. I almost puked when I heard some radio head say that alabama and LSU could face each other in the championship. (meaning the the two best teams in the sec with one loss each are better than everyone else?) Why doesn’t the conference just secede from the NCAA and get it over with? I love that nd has played no freebies, and i think it is a major reason why they are so seasoned. I’m curious to see how a playoff system corrects the problem faced now with too many patsies on major college football team schedules.

    13. Very good article. I have been thinking the same thing. The SEC is really not much better than the Big 10 or Pac 12 or Big12. The top teams are good – Oklahoma, Ohio State and Oregon are in the same class or very close to Alabama. I saw Alabama in person play Ole Miss. Ole Miss is awful and they played with Alabama for the first half. ND can beat Alabama.
      The rest of the SEC mirrors the other conferences. South Carolina is no different than MSU. Always close but never the darling. Auburn and Kentucky match up with Illinois and Indiana of the Big 10 OR Baylor and Kansas of the Big 12 OR Colorado and Washington State of the Pac 12.

      USC was to play for the National Championship but now has 2 losses. I still think they are very good and expect them to beat Oregon and give ND all they can handle.

      The problem with the media is the anti-ND bias, which has replaced the pro-ND bias that previously existed. MSU, Michigan, Stanford, BYU and Oklahoma were all penciled in to beat ND at the beginning of the season and all of them have been in the Top 25 at various times this season. Amazingly, when ND beats these teams they all of sudden become “overrated teams” and ND’s victory is marginalized. Those are still good teams – certainly better than the cream puffs on the Alabama and Oregon schedules. ND plays and wins against good teams. And because it is ND, the teams it beats often suffer a let down (as any team does after a big game, even ND) after the ND game. They are still the same good team ND beat. Look at Michigan. Would its season last year have been as good had it not beaten ND? Or would it have turned out more like this season? The big wins and losses can send teams in different directions. But it does not necessarily reflect the quality of the team at the time of the game.

    14. “Says who?” not “Says whom?”

    15. I don’t mean this disrespectfully, but I am having a really hard time following the argument here as to how this affects ND.

      “Because ND is fighting for a BCS bid, and should they falter down the stretch and finish with a loss, they’ll be up against these other one-loss SEC teams.”

      Are you suggesting that ND would have a chance at this year’s NC game if we lose one of our last 3 games? (laughing for 5 minutes)

      Or are you suggesting that ND might be left out of the other 4 BCS games with 1 loss? (laughing for 5 more minutes)

      Maybe I misunderstood that sentence or maybe you just misspoke, so I’ll assume that relevant discussion here is whether a 1 loss SEC team will or should qualify for the title game over an undefeated ND team. I guess my response to that would be “I’ll believe that when I see it.” Because (correct me if I’m wrong) that’s never happened before in the history of the BCS. A 1 loss SEC team has NEVER made the championship game over an undefeated team from one of the 6 BCS conferences.

      If some pundits are saying that a 1 loss SEC team “should” make it in over an undefeated team from Pac12, Big12, or ND then that’s just hot air as far as I’m concerned. It won’t happen, at least not this year. Not under the current format where too many people view the regular season as “part of the tournament”.

    16. Florida beat a pretty good Texas A&M team on the road early on.

    17. Except for Alabama, SEC offenses are “challenged”. Not too unlike ND

    18. I think the SEC has been the best conference in football for the last decade. I agree with Mike’s assessment that other than Alabama, the rest of the league has some warts. I watched Georgia/Florida and OSU/PSU while enjoying a beverage at a watering hole and was stunned at how bad the game between Geo/FL looked. I thought the same thing about having to fear in playing them. That belief was solidified around 11:45 Saturday night.

      That said, the SEC is not our obstacle to getting into the BCS title game. First, we have to win four games, and we have not finished a season unbeaten in nearly 25 years, so we are putting the cart before the horse.

      IF…we win our last four games and are in the hunt, we need to consider what stands between us and the game. Alabama is a bitch and if they win out…case closed. Oregon is one of the scariest teams I have ever seen play. If ND had been playing the brand of football witnessed in the last 20 years by the faithful, I would actually look forward to Bama and Oregon. Right now we are not better than Oregon. KSU and ND would be an awesome game between two like-minded tough teams. Hard to say that we are better than KSU, nor could you argue the other way around.

      We are ranked 4th in the Coach’s Poll and that is about right. There is a long way to go, and like our coach, let’s enjoy the process of watching this team get better.

      • The Piper says:

        Bingo! Let’s worry about going 9-0. If ND finishes 13-0 without playing in a title game, the media will go nuts.

      • johnniejet says:

        We are ranked #4 in large part because of where everyone started in the PRE-SEASON polls. That is the (generally) unfair and slanted way we are where we are in the current Coaches, AP and Harris–perception started early this season. (AND the SEC Biggies HAVE marketed themselves well-WITH the help of ESPN/ABC. But “it is what it is”. We just have to win out and we will be in the GAME. We are well positioned to continue to rise in the “respect” arena for many years to come. Hope to see you ALL in Miami.

      • Don’t agree about Oregon being better than us….we’d handle them much the same way that Auburn did a couple of years ago in the national championship game. Just like Farley, our DLine would get huge penetration with a big push, fouling up their running game.

        We’re bigger, we’re stronger, they’re a bit faster–but we’d wear them down.

        It would be a good game, and perhaps people disagree with me. But I’d concede nothing to Oregon.

    19. One other factor that doesn’t get much attention is that the SEC seldom, if ever, plays games in inclement weather. Typically, the rather rare tough out-of-conference games are played in September when the sun is shining even in South Bend, Columbus and Ann Arbor. The top tier bowl games are all played in sunny climes. When was the last time that Alabama or LSU played in the snow (or even in the cold). I think that great teams should be tested in all sorts of weather conditions and would love to see SEC teams schedule late-season games in the midwest. It won’t happen, of course, but wouldn’t it be fun to see Alabama in South Bend on November 17 in place of Wake Forest?

      • SubwayAlum_2012 says:

        YESSS FINALLY! How about the Sun Bowl in 2010? ND had the game won before kickoff, Miami (in SEC territory) looked like they wanted a warm cup of cocoa, and a blanket, while the irish were in short sleeves and sweating. Id take the Ducks in Eugene over Alabama, and the Irish over Alabama in South Bend. Yeah, the SEC has some good players, Id loveee to see them play north of the mason dixon line.
        another thought nugget: DII football is the playoff system, with the first 3 rounds being played at the better teams field. And who are the best DII football teams? St. Auggies in FLA? Abiliene Christian in TX? No sir, i believe the best DII football are Minnesota Duluth, Minnesota Mankato, and the Michigan Schools (Wayne State last year, and GVSU in others) I watched a Carolinas based Carson Newman team get DESTROYED by GV in the snow in Grand Rapids MI. Carson Newman also had the number 2 offense in nation. They might have earned 200 yards that day.
        Come out of the Southern fortress in december, SEC, then we’ll talk

    20. It is a product of the corrupt college football system where TV contracts and the powers that be in the BC$ control everything. I hope everything gets better with the playoff system, but boy are they dragging their feet. What sport would wait a couple years after deciding a playoff would help? What sports are their where undefeated teams don’t control their own destiny? Teams will schedule tougher non conference opponents when their is incentive.

    21. The Piper says:

      This is my problem with what’s become of CFB. Up until ~1992, there were plenty of independents (FSU, Miami, PennSt, SoCarolina, Cuse, Pitt, VaTech, BC, L’ville, Cincy, Rutgers, Navy, Army). So they all had to go barnstorming and the result was that you were able to figure out which conference was better than the others.

      But the big super conferences have gotten so bad that you can’t figure it out anything. Look at ’07….OhioSt got into the title game, yet essentially nobody in their entire conference played a non-conference game against a bcs team, besides UM/MSU/Purdue’s games against Notre Dame! And we were 3-9!

      End of the day, it’s so awesome to now say this – “I will take our guys and lineup and play any one of these teams anywhere, anytime.” WE ARE BACK.

    22. Nd84irish says:

      Living in the heart of the SEC I can tell you it’s entirely IRRATIONAL! They think its a birth right to get all the rankings, and the journalists and media outlets just feed it. Their approach is to get big, fast, stupid athletes and weed a bunch out, then keep the rest that can make a passing grade and not become felons! They have no respect for anyone outside the conference and academics are left for the idiots who care about life after football. They think playing a few competitive games against each other is all that us ‘required’ to get into the NC. Understand, there are some good people here but in general the above is the prevailing way of life. That’s why Alabama has 300 NC’s because they count the Walmart employee poll as a valid poll. It’s a crock and everyone outside the southeast knows it. Hopefully the bowl match ups will show it. Oh yeah, isn’t the SECreplacing half their coaches this year?

    23. “This is the same Georgia team that got absolutely undressed by South Carolina, and they needed every minute to get past unrecognized-world-power Vanderbilt.”

      Georgia beat Vanderbilt 48-3; perhaps you meant Kentucky or Tennessee. And if you are talking about needing “every minute to get past unrecognized-world power(s)”, then you might want to acknowledge that ND did exactly that against Purdue and BYU.

      “Florida hasn’t played anyone worth a damn.”

      How about reigning SEC Champ LSU (who went 12-0 last year), or South Carolina (before Lattimore got hurt)? Those 2 teams are better than anyone ND faces all year.

      • Mike Coffey says:

        The “they” in the first question is South Carolina. I should have made my antecedent plainer.

        ND went 8-5 last year. Should that be credited to them when determining what they are this year?

      • calm down guys, i have been a nd fan for 40 years, moved down south 35 years ago and in all truth the gap is huge between sec football and any other conference. i watch all the nd games and it is striking the difference in speed i see when i switch to the sec on tv, and that is what makes sec foots so much superior to any other conference. you either get speed or you chase it, and that axiom is always on display in the bowl games where the sec has won the majority of games the past 10 years. irish look really good this year, but ask yourself, would they be 8 and o in the sec. no way! having said that nd would not be embarrassed by any sec team, but i think bama, lsu, flordia, georgia and south carolina would all beat em.

    24. One way to fix this is to not have any rankings until sometime into October. It’s ridiculous where some of these teams, particularly from the SEC, begin the seaso, based on a bunch of irrelevant factors. Let the JV teams that many play up front as warm ups factor into consideration of where they should be ranked after 4-5 games into the season. Starting with a clean slate would no doubt cause some more tough games up front. The current system stinks and is biased.

    25. If the irish keep winning everything will take care of itself. Not worth complaining about until we beat some SEC teams

    26. Jim Ferry says:

      One chapter and accompanying notes from Chuck Thompson’s “Better Off Without ‘Em-A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession” is dedicated to the myth of SEC football supremacy and ESPN’s financial interest in the same. There’s also an amusing section which discusses Alabama’s numerous national championships.

      I met Chuck this summer and had a great conversation. While he’s a Duck, his dad was all-ND and said that the Sugar Bowl in ’74 was the happiest night in his father’s life. I would love to see us square off against Oregon and listen to the SEC howl their rebel yells all night long.

    27. Nd84irish made me laugh out loud. I saw this year the Alabama trophy room with their “300 NCs” and he is right. The one I found the most amusing was the NC in 1973. They took credit for the UPI National Championship, which was awarded before ND beat them in the Sugar Bowl. ND was then awarded the AP National Title.

    28. totally agree. If Irish win out, bring on Bama. Don’t want anyone saying it’s not legit. Might be surprised when they go head to head. I’m sure Nick Satan will be reinstating every criminal in the south come game time.

    29. composedobject4 says:

      If the SEC isn’t the best conference tell me which one is. The best will be on top until they are supplanted…that’s how it is. That being said ND can play with any of them and we will get our shot. Go Irish!

    30. There was a time when the SEC would play out of conference against the best teams in the country. Alabama played ND at least 3 times during the regular season and played Ohio St and Oklahoma. LSU played ND a few times during the regular season. At one time Alabama was the only team the SEC had to offer. Big money and the BCS is what made the SEC what it is today along with the EXPN hype machine. Play cream puffs, get a lot of teams unbeaten and then knock the snot out of one another during conference play and we will get two BCS bids and a slew of bowl bids. All the conferences do that now and it takes away the intersectional excitement of watching top college teams play against one another. The shame is the conferences, especially the SEC and B1G control the BCS. Here is a scenario, Alabama, KSU, Oregon and ND all go undefeated who plays for the NC. Wise money would say Alabama and Oregon. The “big” money says Alabama and ND. What hype and tv revenue would be produced by an Undefeated Alabama against an undefeated ND for the true National Championship?

    31. El Capitano says:

      I happen to like this post but have a somewhat darker take on it. ESPN has a huge contract with the SEC. When their pundits talk up the SEC and dismiss ND wins against quality teams by beating the “but who have they beaten” drum, as Palmer and Pollock did again AFTER the beat down of OU they affect how coaches and sports writers view AND RANK these teams. So this affects ND in the BCS calculations both directly, in terms of where they get ranked (2/3 of the equation) and indirectly because good SEC teams get more credit for beating a middle of the pack — but ranked — SEC team than they probably deserve (1/3 of the equation).

      In the end we are left with ESPN vs. NBC. The monopoly ESPN has on sports information and communication doesn’t make it anywhere close to a fair fight.

    32. We can claim a bunch of N.C. we dont deserve too if we were as ridiculous as they are. I got this from wikipedia.
      National championships

      Notre Dame has won eight wire service (AP or Coaches) national championships.

      Notre Dame claims national championships in an additional three seasons, for a total of 11. Notre Dame, however, is often credited with 13 in total. The 1938 and 1953 seasons are the reason for the discrepancy. In the 1938 season, 8–1 Notre Dame was awarded the national championship by the Dickinson System, while Texas Christian (which finished 11–0) was awarded the championship by the Associated Press. In the 1953 season, an undefeated Notre Dame team (9–0–1) was named national champion by every major selector except the AP and UPI (Coaches) polls, where the Irish finished second in both to 10–1 Maryland. As Notre Dame has a policy of only recognizing AP and Coaches Poll national championships post-1936, the school does not officially recognize the 1938 and 1953 national championships.[11][29]

      Notre Dame has been voted national champion by at least one selector in an additional ten seasons (1919, 1920, 1927, 1938, 1953, 1964, 1967, 1970, 1989, 1993).[30]

      The following is a list of Notre Dame’s 11 claimed national championships:
      Year Coach Selector Record Bowl
      1924 Knute Rockne Helms, CFRA, NCF 10–0 Won Rose
      1929 Knute Rockne Helms, CFRA, NCF 9–0 –
      1930 Knute Rockne Helms, CFRA, NCF 10–0 –
      1943 Frank Leahy AP 9–1 –
      1946 Frank Leahy AP 8–0–1 –
      1947 Frank Leahy AP 9–0 –
      1949 Frank Leahy AP 10–0 –
      1966 Ara Parseghian AP, Coaches 9–0–1 –
      1973 Ara Parseghian AP 11–0 Won Sugar
      1977 Dan Devine AP, Coaches 11–1 Won Cotton
      1988 Lou Holtz AP, Coaches 12–0

      Won Fiesta
      National Championships 11
      So we could say we have 21 if we count the years at least one selector chose us.

    33. OMG, I’m a LIFELONG ND fan and am from the south(Tennessee) Ive been preaching this for years to anyone who will listen…I’ve heard Neuhiesal Spelling? on siriusxm say the same thing. Im glad someone with a blog has finally said it. GO ND…Onward to Victory!

    34. Fellas,

      There’s no dispute that the SEC is the best conference and they play the best football. There’s also no dispute that if Alabama wins out, they should be in the national championship game. No dispute.

      Why? They’re the defending national champions. They’re in the best conference. They pass the “eye-ball” test (have you watched them closely?), they have one of the country’s best coaches, they have the most draft picks into the NFL, they have the country’s best defense….on and on.

      I think the rest is open to debate. Personally, I think if we win out ND should beat out K-state and Oregon . But Alabama is in if they finish undefeated.

    35. It’s somewhat of a confirmation (conference) bias however you look at it. Basically any team (ND included) is subject to the perceived strength of their schedule. ND is almost always judged by the perceived strength of the likes of Michigan, Michigan St., USC, and then the 2-3 other (potentially) tough games which we schedule. Anecdotally, yes, there might be years that schedule plays out as being remarkably tough. However, there are many other years those names get perceived to mean more than they’re actually worth.

      I’m a southerner, with northern parents, who went to undergrad. at ND and graduate school in Georgia. I’ve been on all sides of this equation. I hate SEC fans. That’s primarily a a result of me hating people who are “fans” of conferences. From a football perspective, though, the general competition on a week-to-week basis is superior in the SEC. I’d say the SEC’s track record for national titles and bowl victories in general make them king of the hill until they start getting knocked off more frequently. No team plays many games outside of their conference, and if we construed ND’s “conference” to be their regular opponents, we don’t either. Sure, this year with Oklahoma on the schedule was great, but let’s not forget last year where our “outside” schedule included South Florida, Air Force, Wake Forrest, and Maryland. Is that better than Florida Atlantic and Jacksonville State? Sure, but not by a lot.

      College football has for decades upon decades been a battle of conference supremacy, and there is an ebb and flow to that pattern. Right now, the kings are the SEC. Perhaps Notre Dame can just keep on winning and knock them off their perch properly as opposed to leaving it to conference perception, computers, and a bunch of (theoretically) biased pundits to vote between us and 5 other 1-loss teams.

    36. In my view, Alabama is not the best team in college football and hasn’t been for a couple years. Last year was ESPN awarding Alabama an undeserved second chance to play for the championship and, as often happens, it beat a team it had lost to the first time they played. As Spurrier said, Alabama did not win its conference or even play in its conference championship game, yet gets selected to play for the national championship in a rematch against the team that did win the SEC? This is the ESPN money machine at work.
      Alabama beats Michigan and it is proof of how good Alabama is. ND beats Michigan and its proof that the Big 10 is not a very good conference. K-State beats Oklahoma and its proof how good K-State is. ND beats Oklahoma by a bigger margin and it is proof that Oklahoma is not a very good team this year. This is all ESPN disinformation. This is ESPN vs. NBC and the Big Ten Network. ESPN dogs ND all the time with its bevy of former Michigan and SEC “stars.” Only Lou Holtz consistently supports ND and even then ESPN does its best to make Lou look like a “homer” and comical.
      As I said in an earlier post, I saw Alabama in person this year and the team is very much overrated. I’ll take ND and SC over them every day of the week. The “experts” have not been right about ND all year. For them to admit they were wrong undercuts their credibility in a huge way. They won’t do it and that is why they have a vested interest in making sure K-State, with its avowed policy of finding weak non-conference games (didn’t Snyder drop Oregon this year from its schedule?), stays ahead of ND in the BCS poll. Don’t get me wrong, I like to watch ESPN and enjoy the SEC. But this is not a level playing field. The Golden Rule is at work here. He who has the gold, rules. And for the moment, that appears to give great influence to ESPN and the SEC.

    37. Shawn from Deep South says:

      I’m a huge ND fan, but this entire discussion is a joke. I love ND, love em…. But if you think ND would take on an SEC schedule (and although it would never happen, but let’s say they schedules 4 other cupcakes like a usual SEC team), and expect to get 10 or 11 – maybe even 12 wins, you’ve got to be kidding me. The reason why the SEC is so highly regarded is not bc of who they schedule out of conference, it’s what they do to those teams when they play them in bowl games or nat’l championship games – which, in case you’ve forgotten, they’ve won the last 6. SEC teams routinely run the table in the bowl season, which is a better gauge of conference strength than out of conference reg season scheduling.

      I’ll say it again, i love the ND, but to think they could go 7-1 or 8-0 in the conference is a joke. I want nothing else than to see ND in teh NC game, but if they play Bama they’re in a world of hurt. You heard it here first.

      “This is the same Georgia team that got absolutely undressed by South Carolina, and they needed every minute to get past unrecognized-world-power Vanderbilt.” – might want to double check your facts… UGA beat Vandy 48-3.

      • Mike Coffey says:

        Read my reply above — my antecedent was unclear. SC is the “they” in that sentence.

    38. This is all awesome stuff. Now how do we get the national media and pollsters to figure this out? The computers already get it…

    39. P. J. McGuigan says:

      The thing with the SEC is their ability/willingness/structure to oversign recruits, run off the ones they missed on, and reload with new players on those now available “scholarships”. Imagine if the NFC East was allowed to cut 1/2 of their 8 draft picks from the previous season and add 4 new picks to their next year draft….as well as use those picks in any round they choose. I think at least one of those teams would be pretty dominant with that type of formula.

    40. Lets get something strait…the SEC teams are good. That is not the argument, the argument is that they are highly ranked at the beginning of the season, they play no one out of conference, then they play each other, one team loses but only barely falls in the poll because they are all highly ranked to begin with. That is what the article is saying! The way to fix this is to rank everyone after 4 weeks. There is a reason why the computers are different from the polls, they judge teams on what they do on the field not reputations.

    41. The SEC is always overrated and always will be because of the homers in the southern media, who hilariously, also have votes in the polls. Why not publish the poll rankings by voting members? Well, that’s not how we do things down here, yankee.

      I didn’t watch either of the “Games of the Century” between Bama and LSU last year because I knew it would be like watching paint dry. Completely unwatchable offenses vs top defenses holds no fascination for me.

      The year before, it was one electric offensive player who sold his services to the highest bidder (Auburn) and won the NC on his own-while again the SEC offenses around him ran into each other.

      Brian Kelly’s 2012 Irish need not fear any SEC team, including Alabama, who wouldn’t score 17 against this D. We’d hold LSU to 10 or less. Thank God the playoff is coming, but if there are 3 unbeatens at the end of the year and Alabama is one of them, I guarantee the Irish won’t be in the NC game. The system is rigged.

    42. Mike's SEC Son says:

      I’m the Gamecock outed so ignominiously by my old man in the initial post on this thread. I get the argument ND fans are making here, we pride ourselves on playing the best teams from all over the country. I enjoy making this argument when ND is winning. But I’ll be honest, the moral high ground of national scheduling was getting pretty difficult to defend when ND was mediocre.

      I remember asking my fellow Gamecocks why we (or Alabama) played such a soft OOC schedule and their reply was basically because we can and still get into the NC. I think alot of people here are confusing a soft schedule with not being a good team. A soft schedule could mean a team isn’t as good as we think but the SEC has shown, see NC stats above, that the imperfect system we have right now to select a national champion is pretty much confirming that they are the best. In the vein of Golic’s response Reilly’s article on ND a month ago, why wouldn’t the SEC play these soft games? it’s certainly not hurting them. Should they take the high road and play the best in the country? That hasn’t gotten ND very far, at least not since I was a toddler.

      I would be much more upset if the Big 10 or Pac 12 was making this argument and then getting blown out in NC games but the SEC is winning these games. Until they stop delivering I don’t think there’s much of an argument here. And for the record, I would root for ND over South Carolina any day.

    43. Jason Thompson says:

      I live in Lexington, Kentucky, a college basketball town, where, during football season, the fans seem to universally cheer for “the SEC.” I don’t understand this and liken it to me cheering for ND and 11 other teams. But I have been making your agrument for years; the SEC is overrated as a top-to-bottom conference. This year for example, Kentucky, Vandy, Missouri, Ole Miss, Auburn, Arkansas and Tennessee are all pitiful football teams. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Mississippi State are overrated and haven’t beaten anybody. But the argument that I get every year comes in bowl season when they start counting the record of the SEC vs its competition. The flaw in that is that for historical reasons, most bowl matchups are between the SEC and the BIG 10, which has been down in the last 5-6 years that the SEC has been up.

      You say at the end you hope you get a chance to see ND vs any SEC team other than Bama. Well, the problem is, it’s Bama or bust. We’ll play bama for a championship, or we’ll play someone from another conference, either in the championship game or another bowl. But given the chance, we have to beat Bama. For the sake of all non-SEC football. Wouldn’t that be a nice story? After 6 years of dominance over other conferences in the title game, the SEC is finally beaten by an independent? Probably wishful thinking this year but if we stay on this course, it’s only a matter of time.

    44. Irish Hoosier says:

      After ND’s alignment with the ACC, I’ve not been able to find anyone who can answer a question for me. Perhaps SEC fans can help. Is it more correct to say, “Screw Y’all” or “Screw all Y’all?”

      • TacomaDomer00 says:

        Depends which part of the South you’re from. Back home in Kentucky, it’s actually “Youall”. The possessive is “Yourall’s”. The difference between Y’all and All Y’all is the same as the difference between You (plural) and All of You. It’s a matter of clarity or emphasis.

    45. P. J. Mick says:

      If you want to talk bowl game performance, let’s not forget where these bowls games are played. I wonder how the SEC teams would do coming north in January to play a bowl game? I think they would fall back towards the mean somewhat. The playing field, both in scholarships(recycled) and location is not level. The SEC culture encourages and rewards cheating. Bear Bryant said it himself that he suggested his boosters pay the going rate for players. The south’s other mantra…”if you ain’t winnin’ you ain’t cheatin’ and if you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’. Probably should have substituted y’all for you to be more accurate. That tells you what the Irish and even the Big Ten are up against. The Big Ten might not be graduating many more players than the SEC, but at least they’re not running them off their team and taking their scholarship away. And to the point regarding the legitimacy (or dare I say Relevance) of the SEC as a conference, they’re not much different as a whole than the Big 12 or Pac 12….they have 2 superior teams, and handful of competitive teams, and the rest suck as much as any other conference bottom feeders. So sick of hearing ‘the IRISH are relevant again….’ When was the last time Georgia or Texas A&M relevant? Was South Carolina ever relevant? How about Arkansas….me thinks 1977. Tennessee…please. Florida’s time came and is now gone again. The only time Auburn is any good is after they get caught and are put on probation. Go Irish, run the damn table and pray we get a date with Bama so we can go 6-1 lifetime against them while Manti shoves cod cakes down their biscuit holes.

    46. While I agree there is SEC bias especially at ESecPN I do also believe they have been the or a top conference in the last decade. Certainly the most consistent with the most consistent number of good teams. I have been an ND fan my entire life being a SB local, raised catholic, Irish/Polish I didn’t even have a choice….lol. Still it has been a very long time since we have been good, legitamatly good, or worthy of BCS or NC talk. By all accounts we are that good this year. I think it will all work out and if we go 12-0 I think some way we will make it to the big game. If not hey don’t feel bad in that big nosed Paterno had multiple undefeated season that he didn’t win the NC. If we finish the season with 1 or 2 losses then with 7 returners on D and potentially having wood and Eifert back with a seasoned Golsen we will open in the top 5 next year and get our shot. As much as I have been against a full playoff because I believe it would diminish big regular season showdowns, I think the 4 team format sounds reasonable. With that and the conference championships we will likely produce a worthy and believable champ every year. There will rarely be more than 4 undefeated teams and any 1 loss teams in the equation will be a major conference champ. I do agree the scheduling of total cream puffs sucks, especially when it is usually the first few games to start the season and then the stretch run to end the season….but hey ND schedule lines up comparably this year in that we started with a weaker than normal Navy team and have our 3 weakest opponents before closing with a rival on the road. Just sit back and enjoy this ND. This year is already special and it is only the beginning. Top notch recruits are still rolling in, Kelly has now found his comfort zone here, the ACC will be our bitch in Football, we will keep SC, Navy, ans some big 10 regional games…..the future looks bright and I think before he is done Golsen and our resurgent D will get us a NC! Honestly when since the Holtz glory years have things looked so promising?

    47. Please note I did the best I could to come up with these numbers from sports-reference.com. These are bowl records over the last 6 years of perceived SEC bias. Whether or not their early non-conference schedule is soft or not, the bowl results speak for themselves, as much as you might want to hate it. I have not done any statistical analysis for strength of opponent, only to remove the non-BCS schools from the analysis as noted.

      ACC 19-31 (14-27 VS BCS Schools)
      BIG12 25-22 (25-20 VS BCS Schools)
      BIG EAST 23-10 (14-9 VS BCS Schools)
      BIG10 17-30 (15-28 VS BCS Schools)
      PAC12 19-16 (16-10 VS BCS Schools)
      SEC 37-18 (32-16 VS BCS Schools) (removing ALA-LSU title game from 2012)

    48. While it is currently the SEC that benefits from confirmation bias and it is intersesting that it is being applied to a whole conference that rarely plays a tough non-conference game, but this has always been a problem. It has surely helped the Irish some years, but 1993 is a good example of it at its worst. The writers proclaimed FSU the best team ever, so when they lost to ND, it was written off as a fluke. The Irish gave them a chance to do this by losing to BC, but it is just human nature to want to be proven correct, so when it came down to their pre-ordained greatest team ever against the team that beat them, they fell back on their desire to be right and ignored what happened on the field. This will always be a problem with polls. It would help to wait until half way through to vote, but the writers will still give their preseason picks and will be biased by them the rest of the year.

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