It's been a while since I've had a good rant about college football, so here we go.
The SEC sucks. I don't know if this has totally sunk in, but if the schools comprising the Southeastern Conference were swept from existence, the higher education system in the United States would be just fine and dandy. This post may be coming from a place of jealousy when it comes to football, but the fact that the SEC exists highlights everything that is wrong with college football in the United States.
College sports is supposed to be amateur sports. 1 in 50 NCAA football players will eventually play in the NFL, so the overwhelming majority of football players better have a backup plan. That's what the free college education is supposed to be for. Unfortunately, if you are a football player at Mississippi State, that free education is at the 158th best college in the nation. You may need a back up to your back up. However, unlike students at Pac 10 or Big 10 schools, you will attend classes for those of your level - where 2,262,005 students chose to pursue education at National Universities ranked higher than yours. I'm not saying that all Big Ten football teams are stacked with Rhodes Scholars (Indiana's Senior General Studies majors are a little disconcerting), but we'll assume that everyone has to take Intro to Psych, and I'm sure it's tougher at Minnesota than it is at Ole Miss. I may be beating up on the Mississippi public schools, but when you look at the average rank of teams in the SEC on the US News survey, even including Vanderbilt, it is 99.16. The worst school in the Big Ten is Nebraska at 101 - or pretty close to the average of the SEC. The Big Ten average is 56.25. It's pretty safe to say that some SEC athletes would flunk out of the Big Ten if they had to take English and Math with the other kids.
That's okay, you say, because the purpose of college is to prepare students for careers. Even if I did believe that the vocational aspect of a college education justified the existence of the entire University of Kentucky, you would expect that the SEC just funnels all of their students-athletes into professional football careers at a rate that far surpasses the Big Ten. That's not true. Looking at the NFL rosters, each SEC school has sent an average of 24 players into the league, compared to 20.75 for the Big Ten. That's not a huge difference, or at least large enough to justify the excuse that this is a job training program.
What really is telling is the Forbes report that the SEC averages $50million in football revenues per school per season, the most in the country, and $10 million more than the Big Ten average. Who cares about the athletes when you are bringing that kind of cash. So, you get these movements to lavish players with gifts to come to Auburn instead of the quality education and training to get to the next level. You have the money, so why not? But, with making the SEC into a semi-pro league, you are also encouraging the asinine idea that after playing 12 games, you could actually pick 2 teams to compete for a national championship. From a statistical perspective, 12 data points are not enough to rank over 100 teams. A league championship? Yeah. A trip to a nice bowl game? You betcha! But, a national championship? Why is this necessary, unless these are professional athletes competing for corporate interests.
Let's get back to thinking of football players as STUDENT-Athletes, have the goal be to win the conference championship and the Sugar Bowl, and stop the madness of justifying payouts to parents and exchanging gear for tattoos.