- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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There's no denying the SEC's recent national championship dominance in college football. The conference has watched four different teams -- Alabama (three times), Auburn, Florida (twice) and LSU -- win seven BCS titles in the past seven years.
This year, the conference could close out the BCS era with its eighth straight national title.
All those crystal balls lead the argument for the SEC being college football's premier conference, and has all the other conferences looking up in envy.
Well, one coach isn't buying it.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops is buying the championships -- who wouldn't? -- but he isn't buying the league as a whole being the strongest from top to bottom.
Here's what Stoops told the Tulsa World earlier this week about the SEC's dominance:
"So they've had the best team in college football. They haven't had the whole conference. Because, again, half of 'em haven't done much at all. I'm just asking you. You tell me."
Hey, the SEC saw four coaches get fired last year, and five teams finished with records below .500. But the SEC also saw five teams win at least 10 games and all nine teams that went bowling finished with winning records. Seven SEC teams finished the 2012 season ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, including five in the top 10. Both led the country. The SEC also went 6-3 in bowl games, including Alabama's pounding of then-No. 1 Notre Dame team in the Discover BCS National Championship.
Only the WAC (2-0) and Conference-USA (4-1) had better bowl winning percentages, while the Big Ten and Big 12 had losing bowl records, the Pac-12 went 4-4 and the ACC was 4-2.
But I get it, the bottom half was ugly. No arguments there. There was some bad play in the SEC last year, but four of the nine teams that the Big 12 sent bowling had losing records in conference play. Only one SEC bowl team did (Ole Miss at 3-5).
Now, when you look back at the SEC's remarkable championship run, the conference has still been pretty dominant outside of just winning seven straight national championships.
Since Florida got the SEC ball rolling in 2006, the SEC has had 58 teams finish the season, including the postseason, with a winning record. The Big 12 is next with 52. The ACC has had 49 teams finish with a winning record, while the Big Ten has had 44, the Pac-12/Pac-10 has had 40 and the Big East has had 36.
Now, during that time, the SEC has had eight or more teams finish with a winning record five times. The Big 12 is next with three, while the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12/Pac-10 have only had one season in which that happened. The Big East has had none.
Remember, the SEC has more winning teams and has had more than half of its teams finish with a winning record in each of the past seven seasons.
But we'll dive deeper.
Since 2006, 12 SEC teams (excluding Missouri and Texas A&M) have reached at least two bowl games and each has at least one postseason victory during that span. After the 2012 bowl season, the SEC now has five teams that have been to at least five bowl games since 2008 and eight that have gone to at least six bowls since 2003. Florida, Georgia and LSU have all gone to 10 since 2003.
Heading into the 2013 season, the SEC has won more bowl games (42) and been to more bowls (64) than any other conference (including Ohio State's vacated win over Arkansas in the 2010 Sugar Bowl). The SEC also hasn't had a losing bowl record since going 3-4 in 2002.
The SEC has a bowl winning percentage of .656 since 2006. Here's how the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 have fared since 2006 in bowls:
ACC: 23-33 (.411)
Big Ten: 19-35 (.352)
Big 12: 29-27 (.519)
Pac-12: 20-16 (.556)
The SEC has gone 32-15 against the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 in bowl games and is 11-3 in BCS bowls since 2006 (includes Arkansas-Ohio State game and 2011 BCS title game between Bama and LSU). Also, the conference has won 21 bowl games against nonconference teams ranked in the top 25 (at the time they played) during that span. Eleven of those wins came against top-10 opponents.
"So you're listening to a lot of propaganda that gets fed out to you," Stoops said. "You're more than smart enough to figure it out. Again, you can look at the top two, three, four, five, six teams, and you can look at the bottom six, seven, eight, whatever they are. How well are they all doing?
"What'd we (the Big 12) have, eight of 10 teams in bowl games this year? Again, you figure it all out."
Well, both conferences had nine teams go bowling, but the SEC had a winning record. Not the Big 12 (4-5).
You'll also have to forgive the SEC for having 14 teams in its league. Not everyone can have a winning record, but I don't think the SEC is worried about that. It's too busy counting all those shiny rings and crystal footballs.
1dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
3dTom VanHaaren and Erik McKinney