The SEC was the best college football conference in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. The past seven years say the SEC is the best conference in 2016 too except, to put this in terms Lee Corso would use, not so fast, my friend! Sure the SEC has the undisputed #1 team in the country in Alabama. After that? The SEC’s next ranked team is Auburn, which is 14th in the College Football Playoff Rankings and 17th in the AP Top 25. The only other SEC schools ranked in both polls are Florida and LSU. The Big Ten, on the other hand, has just as many teams in the top eight of both rankings: Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, and Wisconsin. So the Big Ten is the best college football conference in all the land, right? Not so fast, my friend! It’s actually the ACC.
Before going any further, I suppose I should clarify: the SEC may still be the best conference in the country if you define “best” as the one that makes the most money. That’s how we measure the success of each professional sports league, right? Concussion concerns be damned: the NFL still makes the most money. Where does all that money come from? While some of it comes from the sale of Dr. Bennet Omalu’s tears, the vast majority is from television networks and advertisers. Well, the joke is on you this time NFL. BTT barely has content never mind TV programming and our advertising budget is equally robust. We’re happy to change that of course. For information on how you can donate to BTT, please click here. [Note to Jazz: please create a site where people can donate to BTT and then make “here” a hyperlink to that site.] In the meantime, financial success is irrelevant here at BTT.
Instead, we’re going old school and defining the best conference as the one that actually played the best on the field. And I mean old school: no fancy analytics here. Why are we keeping the nerds out of this? Well, it’s in part because SB Nation already did a great piece using something called S&P+. While I have no idea how S&P+ works, it came to the conclusion I want so it clearly warrants all of our attention. After reading this you can, nay MUST, check it out at http://www.sbnation.com/college-football/2016/12/19/14004990/college-football-conference-rankings-2016-sec-big-ten-acc. The other reason we’re leaving the nerds out of this is because we don’t have any. That’s right, our research team here at BTT is as robust as our TV programming and advertising budget. Of course, you’ve already heard the Bone on BTT Radio so you knew that.
So what’s the old school way of measuring who played the best on the field? Head-to-head record. Saying the ACC played well against the SEC and Big Ten would be an understatement: the ACC is 9-4 against the SEC and 6-2 against the Big Ten. There really isn’t any way to split the records that helps the non-ACC conference. At home, the ACC has gone 4-2 against the SEC and 1-0 against the Big Ten. On the road, the ACC has gone 2-0 against the SEC and 2-1 against the Big Ten. On a neutral field, the ACC has gone 3-2 against the SEC and 3-1 against the Big Ten.
Not convinced yet? In match-ups between teams currently ranked in the College Football Playoff Rankings, which is the only way to include Tennessee who is not ranked in the AP Top 25 but beat a Virginia Tech team that is ranked in both polls, the ACC has gone 2-2 against the SEC and 3-0 against the Big Ten. In matchups between teams that made bowl games, the ACC has gone 8-4 against the SEC and 5-1 against the Big Ten. There have been no games were neither the ACC team nor the SEC or Big Ten team made a bowl game.
Ready to look up the remaining bowl games to see how you can save the SEC or Big Ten? Don’t. First, it’s exhausting. Trust me. Second, the only game left between the ACC and either the SEC or Big Ten is, you guessed it, the National Championship game on January 9th between #2 Clemson and #1 Alabama. Can the SEC win a National Championship? Absolutely. Can Alabama beating Clemson and “improving” the SEC’s record against the ACC to 5-9 tip the scales in favor of the SEC? You’re joking right?
So with congratulations to the SEC on their run at the top and condolences to the Big Ten who still had a great season, I (along with several other sites like SB Nation that you hopefully haven’t read yet) hereby crown the ACC the best college football conference in all the land for the 2016 season. Or, as Lee Corso would do it: