Bob Stoops’ offseason could already be described as cantankerous, and it is only May. First, he spouted some paternalist drivel about players learning something from going hungry on Sundays. Now, he’s taking shots at the SEC, crediting their ascension to “propaganda.”
"“So you’re listening to a lot of propaganda that gets fed out to you,” he said. “You’re more than smart enough to figure it out. Again, you can look at the top two, three, four, five, six teams, and you can look at the bottom six, seven, eight, whatever they are. How well are they all doing? “What’d we (the Big 12) have, eight of 10 teams in bowl games this year? Again, you figure it all out.”"
Obviously, such a comment reads petty coming from Stoops. But he has at least a partial point. Perception stems from the top of the conference. “SEC” dominance has really been Florida cresting under Meyer followed by Alabama cresting under Saban with sporadic great years from Auburn and LSU thrown in. National titles, though an outgrowth of the SEC ascendancy, don’t tell the entire story. Both the SEC and the Big 12 have been the top SRS conference twice since 2008.
What Stoops discounts is perception is breeding reality. The SEC had four of the top five and 10 of the top 45 SRS teams in 2012. Six SEC teams finished higher than Oklahoma in SRS. Seven SEC teams brought in better recruiting classes in 2013.
What are the bottom feeders in the SEC doing? Ole Miss (No. 5 in SEC West) and Auburn (last) brought in top ten recruiting classes. Arkansas (No. 6) swiped the head coach from a B1G team that went to three-straight Rose Bowls. Mississippi State is winning most games against non-elite SEC West programs. James Franklin is doing work at Vandy. The most moribund non-Kentucky program looking long-term may be Missouri, a team that won 56 games in six years in the Big 12 before leaving.
Ohio State and Michigan are coming back. Texas will rise from the ashes. Some team, eventually, will defeat an SEC team in a title game. But by then reality may have caught up with the perception. The SEC will be AAAA football.
[Photo via USA Today Sports]