Rank each Power 5 conference (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC) based only on their 2014 performance.) Give the reasoning for your ranking:
- Pac-12: This one’s easy. Oregon was a scoring machine with the nation’s best player in Marcus Mariota. Following the Ducks were programs like Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA, all of whom spent considerable time in the Top 25 rankings. Don’t forget about teams like USC and Stanford either who also flitted in and out of the rankings. They had two programs that didn’t win 5 games and most of the other teams had at least 8 wins. Top to bottom, that might be the most impressive conference showing in a while.
- SEC: When you look at the records, the SEC actually looks better than the Pac-12 but I think the numbers lie. The SEC has a history of playing cupcake games early in the season to help inflate their records. Then, let’s be honest: a lot of their teams actually weren’t that good. Auburn and Texas A&M were train wrecks for most of the season. LSU and South Carolina were anemic at times. Even the juggernaut that is the Alabama Crimson Tide were not the same. Just look at what Ohio State did to them.
- Big Ten: This is where it kind of turns into a logjam for me so I let my homerish take over. I’ll be the first to admit that the Big Ten was not stupendous this year but it wasn’t as bad as people made it out to be. The problem with having a team like the University of Michigan in your conference, which is about as big a name in college football as you can get, is if that program struggles, it’s assumed that everyone is struggling. The Big Ten might not have had the best teams but they did have a lot of the best players. Tevin Coleman of Indiana got less attention than he should have despite being second in the nation in rushing. Tony Lippett of Michigan State was one of the better wide receivers in the country. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the quarterback monstrosity that Ohio State put together with J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones, backed by running back Ezekiel Elliott that oh yeah, won the National Championship.
- Big 12: In my opinion, the Big 12 was basically a two-team league. TCU and Baylor were just so much better than everyone else in that conference and most of the rest of the nation. Oklahoma had some good moments and Kansas State is usually good for at least 8 wins under Bill Snyder but come on, look at the rest of those teams. Texas Tech hasn’t been good since Mike Leach, Kansas is awful and I usually forget Iowa State has a football team.
- ACC: Georgia Tech was a fun story but this conference was all about Florida State. If the Seminoles had stumbled (well, stumbled enough to lose) the entire group would’ve plummeted out of the rankings. Clemson had some firepower and Duke channeled some of it’s basketball team’s magic for 9 wins but most of the rest of this group is a joke.
The BCS era was 1998-2013, what sport is each of the above conferences better known for: baseball, basketball, football, other.
ACC: The knee jerk reaction is to say basketball for sure when you look at the lineup of teams. But if you want to get technical, Syracuse, Pitt and Louisville haven’t been members of the ACC for that long. That pretty much leaves you with Duke and North Carolina. Granted, that’s a lot of basketball royalty and championships but personally I always viewed the ACC as the conference that excelled in the other sports like lacrosse and baseball. Because those two schools are so good, I almost went basketball but I have to say baseball and other for the ACC.
Big 12: Texas and Oklahoma fielded some pretty good baseball teams a few years ago but no one’s going to mistake the Big 12 for anything other than football conference. Texas and Oklahoma are two of the most historic and recognizable programs in football. In the state of Texas, football reigns supreme. There’s been movies and a TV show about it if you don’t believe me. Kansas won a basketball title in 2008 but no, that’s not enough.
Big Ten: The Big Ten is hard to pin down because it actually underwent a metamorphosis around 2008. Pretty much as far back as the dawn of time, the Big Ten was a football school. Pre-historic Bo and Woody were probably lining up cavemen against each other. Sure there were some outliers like Michigan State around the turn of the century but primarily they were a football school.
Then something weird happened.
Michigan State had continued its trend of being good and Illinois made an appearance in the Men’s Basketball Finals but suddenly Ohio State was really good and played in the National Championship. Bo Ryan and Wisconsin emerged into a beast of a program. Michigan plucked John Beilein from West Virginia, found themselves some players and were suddenly a championship contender. Purdue had a core group that could go toe to toe with just about anyone. Oddly enough, this is about the same time the Big Ten had a decline in football. But really, no matter what anyone says, the Big Ten is a conference all about football.
Pac-12: I know there’s some good baseball schools out there but the Pac-12 is better known for its football. USC created a program the likes of which hadn’t been seen in forever under Pete Carroll and produced numerous Heisman Trophy winners. Oregon and Chip Kelly revolutionized the speed game, and Jim Harbaugh and Stanford brought back the old smash mouth style.
But here’s the thing: the Pac-12 has won 5 National Championships and was runner-up 5 times in baseball to the one BSC title that USC won, the only football championship. The Pac-12 probably should be a baseball conference but no one really talks about college baseball. Maybe the perception is different over on the west coast but from where I’m sitting, it sure seems like people never talk about it.
SEC: Football. Wait… I need to elaborate? If not for Florida and Kentucky, I wouldn’t believe that they even fielded other sports teams.