SEC's still best

In November, I was willing to listen to arguments that the SEC wasn't the strongest conference in the country.

The SEC wasn't about parity, it was about average teams, the argument went. It was about every team in the league losing at least two SEC games. It was about the defending national champions losing three SEC games.

I was almost ready to buy into those arguments.

Not any more.

The SEC is the best – once again.

The SEC didn't just prove it with LSU's dominating performance in the national championship game against top-ranked Ohio State. It proved it with a 7-2 bowl record. It proved it with five teams ranked in the top 15. It proved it with eight teams that won at least eight games. It proved it with only two teams out of 12 failing to become bowl eligible.

The fact that LSU lost twice in the SEC and easily won the national championship game is more evidence the SEC is awesome, not average.

Yes, LSU lost to two teams that finished unranked – Kentucky and Arkansas. But that just shows how tough and balanced the SEC is. Kentucky and Arkansas did something that a one-loss Ohio State team couldn't do.

Where would Ohio State finish in the SEC? No better than fourth. It would finish behind LSU, Georgia and Florida. It would battle Tennessee and Auburn for fourth.

You could make an argument that the Big 12 is better. Four teams – Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas – finished in the top 10 and Texas Tech was No. 22. And Missouri routed Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl.

But those were the only Big 12 teams that had at least eight wins. And five had a losing record compared to two in the SEC.

The SEC's seven bowl wins is an all-time record for any conference. The SEC also went 2-0 in BCS bowls, running the league's record to 11-4 in the 10 years of the BCS system. By comparison, the ACC is 1-9 in BCS games.

The SEC also went 47-10 in non-conference games – tying the all-time record for most non-league wins.

LSU became the first two-time loser to win a national title and the SEC had the 1-2 teams (AP poll) in the nation in LSU and Georgia.

Only the Big Eight could surpass that. It went 1-2-3 in 1971 with Nebraska, Oklahoma and Colorado.

It's worth noting the SEC should be strong again in 2008.

Georgia and Florida will be preseason top five teams. LSU, despite huge losses, could again be in the top 10. Tennessee is capable of a top-10 finish, if the Vols get production from the quarterback spot.

Alabama and South Carolina surely will be better than 6-6. Auburn could match its 9-win season.

Kentucky, Arkansas and Mississippi State will be hard pressed to equal their 8-win seasons. Vanderbilt should be about the same. Ole Miss will certainly improve on its 0-8 SEC mark but the Rebels don't project to be bowl eligible.

That means the SEC should have eight bowl eligible teams, if not nine.

It also means the SEC once again will be the best conference in the country.


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