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Hobbs Column: SEC won’t soon Stoop to pettiness

Last Modified: Friday, May 10, 2013 10:03 AM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

Well, thank you very much, Bob Stoops.

Things were getting a little slow in the college football offseason. Spring football is over, recruiting season is long gone and I have it on pretty good authority that the NFL draft did eventually end.

You can only rearrange the deck chairs on those way-too-early rankings for next season so many times.

Somebody needed to a light a fire. Somebody needed to stir the pot. Somebody needed to create a crisis or at least get out there and offend something or someone.

So let us all give thanks to the Oklahoma football coach.

He recently lobbed a salvo into SEC country, a fire-brand accusation that SEC football isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

Them were fighting words, of course, stirring up quite a firestorm (over nothing) among the SEC’s chest-thumpers.

Kind of what Stoops was saying was that, other than seven consecutive BCS national championships, you know, the SEC really hasn’t been all that dominant.

“They’ve had the best team in college football,” he did admit. “They haven’t had the whole conference. Because, again, half of ‘em haven’t done much at all.”

I’m sure SEC Commissioner Mike Slive could lean back in his chair and, with a flick of the wrist, fire off a rebuttal that would leave poor Stoops smoldering.

But Slive reserves those measures for the legitimate contenders (like, occasionally, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney). Slive is usually content to smile with a wry smirk, an expression that suggests that reacting to outbreaks of petty jealousy is not really worth his time and effort.

Let’s have some fun anyway.

Sadly, Stoops did not stipulate how the pesky best “whole conference” thing should be calculated.

Seven straight national championships apparently doesn’t do it.

And the fact that four teams are responsible for that seven-year itch that so annoys the rest of the country doesn’t move his needle much either.

He probably should stay away from the NFL draft.

The SEC had more draft picks that any other two conferences combined. OK, the SEC has 14 teams now, which is a lot, maybe too many.

But, in fact, if the SEC East and SEC West were separate conferences (with only seven teams each), they would have finished 1-2 in total draft picks, the East edging the West 32-31.

The ACC also had 31.

Four SEC teams — Alabama, LSU, Florida and Georgia — combined for 34 picks, three more than any other conference.

Stoops just said, “You’re listening to a lot of propaganda that gets fed out to you … Again, you can look at the top two, three, four, five, six teams …”

Actually, the SEC did dig down six deep to find Oklahoma an opponent for the most recent Cotton Bowl.

Oklahoma was the Big 12 co-champion. Texas A&M was a whale of team, with a Heisman Trophy quarterback, but in the official SEC standings the Aggies went in at No. 6.

Your 2013 Cotton Bowl: Texas A&M 41, Oklahoma 13.

So Stoops continues, “Look at the bottom six, seven, eight, whatever they are. How well are they all doing?”

Translation: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

What is he saying? That a conference should be judged by its bottom-feeders?

What? He wants a Kentucky (2-10) vs. Kansas (1-11) game to settle this debate once and for all? That would be pretty good stuff on the hardwood, but sheer agony for football fans everywhere.

There’s some sort of scientific formula out there that states that for every action, there must be an equal and opposite reaction — in football terms, every time a team wins, another team inevitably must lose.

Even the SEC has found no way around this conundrum — perhaps Slive is working on it as we speak — so, yes, every year as the conference schedule grinds on, the SEC is saddled with teams stockpiling losses.

Everybody doesn’t get a ribbon.

Yes, there were four awful teams in the SEC last year in Arkansas, Tennessee, Auburn and Kentucky. And all four of those head coaches got properly fired for it. That’s the way the big boys handle these things.

And they were historically bad teams, combining to go 3-29 in SEC play. But somehow they managed to go a combined 11-5 out of conference.

But one of those teams, Auburn, is one of the four to win a national title during the SEC streak.

Another, Tennessee, won the very first BCS title in 1998.

They’re going through down periods. It’s not like they’re Iowa State.

Yes, there are fears, even within the SEC, that it is starting to become Nick Saban’s world with Alabama dominating it with two of the last three BCS titles.

But two years ago it was famously two SEC teams in the BCS championship game. Last year it could just as easily have been Georgia winning the SEC championship game for the right to dog-whip Notre Dame in the national title game.

In fact, the cottage industry in SEC country before the presumed Bama beat-down of the Irish, was figuring how many SEC teams would be able to handle the chore just as efficiently as the Tide surely would.

Or, another version: How far down the SEC food chain would you have to dip to make it a fair fight?

Most seemed to agree any of the top six would have sufficed and surely there would have been at least six teams yelping for the chance.

Oklahoma would probably have been in that number too, because … oh, wait, Oklahoma did play Notre Dame. At home. Back on Oct. 27, when Manti Te’o thought his girlfriend was real and deceased.

Final score: Notre Dame 30, Sooners 13.

But nice try, coach.

• • •

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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