30.Sep.2013 Media Portrayal of the SEC
It’s a bye week, so I thought a good time to discuss something that’s at the root of my recent disdain with college football. The media portrayal of “teams that matter” (the same 10-15 teams we hear about every year), and more specifically to this post, the top teams in the SEC.
Off the top of my head, I thought I remembered seeing more SEC bias/favoritism after the USC/Texas championship game, so that would be the following year, or 2006 season. It could have been a bit later, though, as this article points out:
In 2008, ESPN and the SEC signed that a 15-year, $2.25 billion agreement allowing the network to televise the conference’s games. In addition, ESPN owns the rights to televise all BCS games, including the national championship game.
In 2011-2012, ESPN and its partner ABC broadcast thirty-three of the thirty-five college bowl games. Which is to say that for all intents and purposes ESPN, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company, the most successful spinner of dreams and fables in world history, owns college football as a commercial entity.
Because ESPN essentially owns college football, the SEC agenda it pushes invariably sets the tone followed by other media. In February 2011, more than half a year before the start of the football season, ESPN placed three southern teams in its top-five ranking for 2011 and published an Internet story beneath the headline, “SEC teams dominate early look at 2011.” The story referred to the rankings as though they were the result of some organic process.
A more honest headline would have been: “We’ve invested $2.25 billion in the SEC and we’ve decided to tell you, yet again, that SEC teams will dominate college football. Surprised?”
I suggest reading the entire article, as it brings up many great points.
So for years we’ve heard that the SEC has 4 or 5 titans at the top who beat up on one another. And for this reason, any loss between these teams is forgivable; that the loser should only drop a few spots in the polls. We saw this over the weekend with Georgia/LSU. LSU only dropped 4 spots in the AP, sitting at #10, where they can theoretically still make the championship game. Due to this bias, ESPN now has 3 SEC teams in the top 10. The odds of one making it to the championship AGAIN are good (~30%).
We also hear the SEC is all about defense. After this weekend’s shoot out, I wondered what the spin would be come Monday. I joked with a friend that ESPN would probably spin the SEC as an offensive conference now. That they wouldn’t ever admit maybe some of these defenses are overrated, or at least vulnerable/inconsistent. No, we must maintain the perception that the SEC is all powerful. This morning’s headline reads: “where did the defense go?” and I thought, “Great, they are questioning the SEC!”. But if you read the article, it is all about how good the offenses are.
Welcome to the new SEC, where “three yards and a cloud of dust” has been replaced by “three straight passes and duck!”
Did Chip Kelly leave Oregon for the NFL or the Deep South?
After five weeks of the 2013 season, seven SEC teams rank in the top 50 nationally among FBS teams in total offense and scoring. SEC teams are averaging 6.52 yards per play — more than any other league in the country — and more than 450 yards of offense.
What a joke.
There is also a perception that the SEC breads exponentially more pros. But if you look at the facts, that simply isn’t true. For example, last year they put 42 players in the NFL, while the ACC put 37. The Big East only placed 12, and the SEC has a 16-15 record (since 1998, the first year of the BCS) against the Big East and 3-8 bowl record.
What’s my point? Just that, while the SEC is a solid, top-heavy conference, it is not what the media portrays. There is a clear, vested interest by ESPN to maintain a certain perception and force it onto us as reality. It, along with other factors, is ruining the sport. Regarding Georgia and LSU…I don’t know if they have bad D or great offense. Mainly because the SEC, in general, will not schedule any tough OOC games where we can gauge them against diverse styles and opponents. LSU and Georgia have actually scheduled respectfully, with TCU and Clemson (Georgia lost). I guess we’ll find out when these teams play in bowls. What happens if LSU scores 3 in their bowl game? What is the spin then??
In short: good conference that is top-heavy, but not nearly as great as ESPN wants us to believe. It is a perception vs reality scam controlled through the media.