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One of the preseason mags I got this summer, Lindy’s, had a special section on the SEC with a half-page review of the four year standings of the conference. Prior to the just completed season it looked exactly like this:

Four Year Period Ending in 07-08
Team SEC Pct. All Pct. Ch./Div. M B
Auburn 26-6 .813 42-9 .840 1/1 1 4
LSU 25-7 .871 43-9 .826 1/2 2 4
Georgia 22-10 .688 40-12 .769 1/1 2 4
Florida 21-11 .656 38-13 .745 1/1 1 4
Tennessee 21-11 .656 34-17 .667 0/2 0 3
Arkansas 16-16 .500 27-22 .551 0/1 0 2
Alabama 15-17 .469 29-21 .580 0/0 0 4
South Carolina 15-17 .469 27-21 .562 0/0 0 2
Kentucky 10-22 .312 21-27 .438 0/0 0 2
Mississippi State 8-24 .250 17-29 .370 0/0 0 1
Vanderbilt 7-25 .219 16-30 .348 0/0 0 0
Ole Miss 6-26 .188 14-32 .304 0/0 0 0
Note: M=Major Bowl (BCS); B=Bowls

Auburn was still riding high from the success of their spectacular run in ’04 and LSU helped them to hold down the top two spots (in terms of conference winning percentage at least).

Instead of waiting until late June, I went ahead and crunched some numbers. All information came from the official athletic websites of the conference members. The bowl record and change from last years results are columns that I added.

Four Year Period Ending in 08-09
Team SEC Pct. All Pct. Ch./Div. M B B Rec. Change
Florida 26-8 .765 43-9 .827 2/2 2 4 3-1 up 3
Georgia 23-10 .697 39-12 .765 1/1 2 4 3-1 up 1
LSU 22-11 .667 42-11 .792 1/2 2 4 4-0 down 1
Auburn 20-12 .625 34-16 .680 0/0 0 3 2-1 down 3
Alabama 20-13 .606 35-17 .673 0/1 1 4 2-2 up 2
Tennessee 17-16 .515 29-21 .580 0/1 0 2 1-1 down 1
South Carolina 15-17 .469 28-22 .560 0/0 0 3 2-1 up 1
Arkansas 15-18 .455 27-23 .540 0/1 0 2 0-2 down 2
Kentucky 12-20 .375 26-24 .520 0/0 0 3 3-0
Vanderbilt 12-22 .526 21-27 .438 0/0 0 1 1-0 up 1
Ole Miss 9-24 .273 19-29 .396 0/0 0 1 1-0 up 1
Mississippi State 8-24 .250 18-30 .375 0/0 0 1 1-0 down 2

Well as you can imagine, things changed up quite a bit this year. Gone is the statistical magic of an unblemished season and Florida, along with their Eastern Division brethren Bulldogs have combined to take over the top two places.

I’m happy to announce that Alabama jumped two spots and is now just behind Little Brother, who leads by the slimmest of margins.

Another thing to note is that with the holiday trips of Ole Miss and Vanderbilt, all twelve teams in the conference have now been to a bowl game within the last four seasons- actually all have been within the last two seasons. I’m not sure, nor am I going to take the time to verify that right now, but I doubt that any other conference can say that. Combine that with three of the last four national championships, and it presents a very strong case for the overall strength of the conference.

I’m certainly interested to see how the balance of power continues to shift.

A few other things I noted:

  • Alabama won their division with a better record than LSU did the previous year and finished the season with the same record that was good enough to garner LSU a national championship. Don’t tell me that record alone is a good enough of an indicator to determine the best of the best.
  • Alabama is also the only team to finish the regular season unblemished in the four year period. Subsequently they are the first to do it since Auburn in 2004.
  • In the study period, there were only three squads that won eight conference games in a season. Alabama was the only one that did and did not win a national championship the same year. (Florida ’06 and Florida ’08 are the other two)
  • Ole Miss is the only team to fail to win a conference game in a single season over the four year period (’07).
  • In spite of Florida’s dominance during this period (two conference championships and the best league record) they have won only one game over 75%. Despite three great years followed by one substandard year means that LSU has won exactly two-thirds of their conference games.

Take a look and let me know what else you can gleam from this.

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As everyone who cares at all knows, the BCS Championship game is tonight. I have no idea what percentage of the population follows college football on a regular basis but I do know that national news outlets, like Slate Magazine, don’t typically run stories about it in their headlines.

That’s not the case today as stats guru, Bill James, weighs in on the system he finds flawed.

Most of us claim to know next to nothing about the computer rankings that make up a component of the BCS scores. Nor do we want to. Mr. James, on the other hand, knows exactly what they do – and don’t do.

There are several things that a ranking system could do. It could rank teams based on their accomplishments over the course of the season—whom they played and whom they beat—or it could rank them based on the probability that they would win against a given opponent. It could rank teams based on how they have played over the course of the season, including perhaps in some early-season games against teams that were not quite sure who their quarterback was, or it could rank them based on how strong they are at the end of the season. It could rank the teams based on consistency, or it could rank them based on dominance.

Which of these is the goal of the BCS system?

Mistakingly, I guess, I thought that the computers tried to do a little bit of all that, and do it without bias in the form of team and conference loyalty.

He goes on to say that when the computers ranking do their job correctly and in the process differ from the polls, that the gurus add more parameters to keep them in line with the human polls, thus rendering them ineffective.

James’ is certainly a different voice mixed in the din of pundits and pontificates.

Just goes to show that when college football is big news, like it is today above maybe all days – because of the BCS, like it or not – then we get the opportunity to hear more than the usual voices.

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