NCF Nation: green conference 090317

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Why in the name of Paul W. "Bear" Bryant would the SEC be envious of other leagues?

Green Day
College Football Nation is decked out in green to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. While you can't tell if our bloggers actually are wearing the day's color, their posts are green from head to toe.

Green with envy: Teams
Green with envy: Conferences
Who could use a four-leaf clover?
What is your teams' greenest unit?
Best/worst spent green

After all, the SEC has won four of the last six BCS national championships, and Florida will be favored to make it five of the last seven next season.

Sure, they play football in other leagues around the country, but nobody lives it 365 days a year the way people do in the SEC.

But as we celebrate St. Patrick's Day, even the SEC has a few things to be envious of when it comes to other conferences:

Big 12 passing games: The SEC had Tim Tebow, Matthew Stafford and Jevan Snead last season, but nobody threw the football around the park like the Big 12 quarterbacks. Among them, the Big 12's top five quarterbacks (Sam Bradford, Graham Harrell, Colt McCoy, Chase Daniel and Todd Reesing) threw 200 touchdown passes last season. You could have put some of the SEC passing games out there for 30 games last season and they wouldn't have come close to reaching that total. In fact, the 12 teams in the SEC combined for a total of 208 touchdown passes last season to go along with 161 interceptions.

The JoePa way: Let's face it. Joe Paterno can do what he wants. I guess that's what happens when you're still kicking everybody's rear end at 82 and own more victories (383) than any other coach in FBS history. The guy's 82. He's had hip replacement surgery, and he's still going strong. Can you imagine any pour soul in the SEC lasting to even 70 as a head coach? JoePa has it figured out. He's untouchable. If he doesn't want to do a television interview he's contractually obligated to do, he doesn't do it. If he wants to chase down an official after the game, he does it. What are they going to do to him? He's JoePa. Not even Nick Saban has that kind of power.

The road in the ACC: Playing a game on the road in the ACC is akin to spending a few days at a quiet, secluded resort. In the SEC, you have to brave such places as Tiger Stadium on a Saturday night, the sweltering heat and ear-bursting noise of the Swamp or passion-filled Bryant-Denny Stadium with 90,000-plus fans going crazy and the ghost of the Bear leaning against the goal post in one end zone. Going on the road in the SEC is like a going to a brawl in the meanest, toughest neighborhood in town. With the exception of a few spots (Clemson, Florida State and Virginia Tech), going on the road in the ACC is like going on a vacation.

Posted by ESPN's Tim Griffin

Big 12 supporters can be just as green with envy about other conferences as individual institutions can be.

Check out this list of what makes Big 12 supporters envious of other conferences.

  • The Big 12 is envious of the Southeastern Conference for its head-to-head success in bowl games. The SEC whipped the Big 12 twice last season with convincing triumphs by Florida over Oklahoma in the FedEx BCS National Championship Game and Mississippi over Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl. That pushed the SEC's dominance over the Big 12 to 15-9 in the history of the Big 12, including 9-3 since 2003. The discussion about better athletes in the SEC, particularly on defense, has also gotten old for Big 12 partisans as the conference's offensive reputation has zoomed. All of that talk about the SEC's superior speed and athleticism has stuck in the craw of the heartland like an overcooked onion-fried hamburger.
  • The Big 12 is envious of the Big Ten because of its media markets. Both conferences are located in flyover states. But the Big Ten has more major media hubs covered in places like Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Minneapolis. The Big 12 has places like Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Denver, Kansas City and San Antonio. Among the top 30 television markets, the Big Ten has eight and the Big 12 has five (sharing St. Louis among both). It makes Big 12 partisans sometimes believe their conference receives less national credibility than the Big Ten, considering most schools in both conferences are similar land-grant institutions.
  • The Big 12 is envious of the Pac-10 because of more glamorous destinations. Heck, I know the beat writers are. Compare the conferences. The Pac-10 has international meccas like San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles and solid stops like Phoenix and Tucson. The Big 12 counters with Ames, Lubbock, Norman, Stillwater, College Station, Waco and Columbia. The Big 12's Manhattan bears little resemblance to "The Big Apple." And it would really be one-sided if havens like Austin and Boulder didn't exist in the Big 12. Thank goodness for the small pleasures in life.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Admit it. You look around and see the big, bad SEC playing its conference championship game while the ACC hands out free Super Bowl tickets hoping somebody, anybody besides me will come watch this rerun of last year's game and it makes you drool with envy. Green envy.

You see that man with the bum knee shuffling around Happy Valley, and wish that your coach in Tallahassee was the winningest coach in college football, while quietly mumbling curses on the NCAA. You see Bradfords and McCoys throwing for more yardage than you drive to work and wish you, too, had a Heisman Trophy candidate to talk about over the water cooler.

That's what we're all about here today in the blogosphere. Anything green, anything Irish, and envy tops the list. Happy St. Patrick's Day, my envious ACC friends.

Here are three things the ACC envies about other conferences:

1. The Big 12 and SEC conference title games -- Imagine, the ACC championship game not only drawing a packed stadium, but essentially featuring two teams in a play-in game for the national championship. The SEC's title game has drawn capacity crowds in 15 of its 17 games. There were 75,892 fans who saw Florida beat Alabama last year, and the ACC had 27,360 for the repeat of Virginia Tech vs. Boston College. And the Big 12? That title game generated more attention than the ACC championship before Texas, er, Oklahoma even took the field.

2. The SEC and Pac-10 BCS bowl records -- The ACC was overjoyed to win its second BCS bowl game in 11 tries last year. Baby steps, ACC, baby steps. The SEC is 12-5 in BCS bowls and the Pac-10 is 9-4. They both have had at least six different schools play in BCS bowls while the ACC has had four. Florida State, Maryland, Virginia and Wake Forest have all represented, but the once mighty Seminoles are 1-5 and the Hokies are 1-2.

3. Heisman hopefuls -- It goes beyond Big 12 quarterbacks. The Big Ten had Shonn Greene and Javon Ringer, the SEC had Tim Tebow and Knowshon Moreno, the Pac-10 had Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart. Even the Big East had Pat White and Donald Brown to throw in the mix. Heck, Ball State quarterback Nate Davis got some consideration. Meanwhile, ACC fans are still talking about Chris Weinke and Charlie Ward. Somebody cue up "Glory Days" from the Boss.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

After examining what makes each Big Ten team turn green with envy, our St. Patrick's Day celebration turns to the entire league.

Competition between conferences has escalated in recent years, particularly among fans, and each league has something the other leagues covet.

Once the envy of all other conferences, the Big Ten finds itself on the other side after several subpar seasons. Despite boasting tradition-rich programs and an always-relevant brand name, the Big Ten has dropped six consecutive BCS bowls and five consecutive Rose Bowl matchups.

The prolonged struggles have made Big Ten Nation turn red with anger, and green with envy. Here are three reasons why.

The Big Ten envies the Big 12's quarterbacks: Arguably no factor has driven the Big Ten's downturn more than quarterback play, and the Big 12 boasts a surplus of talented signal-callers. Five of the nation's top 10 passers from last season came from the Big 12, including Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford of Oklahoma and Heisman finalist Colt McCoy of Texas. The Big 12 easily could have had another Heisman finalist in Texas Tech's Graham Harrell, and Missouri's Chase Daniel entered the season as a Heisman candidate. Seven Big 12 quarterbacks finished ahead of the Big Ten's top-rated passer, Penn State's Daryll Clark.

The Big Ten envies the SEC's recruiting base: Speed trumps size in today's college football, and there's much more of it to be found in the South and Southeast. Big Ten coaches are racking up more frequent-flier miles these days, but they're competing against SEC schools located much closer to the talent source. The speed argument at the skill positions is overblown, but it's hard not to notice the differences in line play between the Big Ten and the SEC. Speed and cold-weather football can mix, but it's a tougher sell for the Big Ten, especially given the two league's recent BCS bowl results.

The Big Ten envies the Pac-10's premier program and Rose Bowl proximity: If it wasn't for USC and the Rose Bowl, the Big Ten's national reputation would be a lot better these days. USC's rise has signaled bad news for the Big Ten, which has dropped eight consecutive games to the Trojans, including four Rose Bowls and an Orange Bowl. Many Big Ten fans now regard the Rose Bowl as a virtual road game and wonder how their teams can adjust their playing style after competing in poor weather in October and November. USC's success and proximity to the Rose Bowl feeds the argument that the Big Ten will always be at a major disadvantage in the postseason.

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

What does the Pac-10 envy from other conferences? Read on.

The Pac-10 envies ... the SEC in general: The SEC struggles against the Pac-10 head-to-head but the Pac-10 can't match the hype machine. The SEC is rolling in revenue and fan passion. It's got the nation's best television deals and bowl contracts. It pays its coaches more. It always tops the recruiting rankings. An SEC team seems to always get to play in the national title game even if its record is no better than a handful of other teams. It seems like the Pac-10 is inferior to the SEC in every way. Other than, you know, the football part of football.

The Pac-10 envies... the Big 12's quarterbacks: What in the name of Elway, Aikman, Palmer and Leinart is going on here? The Pac-10 is the "Conference of Quarterbacks"! How the heck did the ole, grind-it-out Big 12 take away that title? You turn away for just a few seconds and these fly-over states stop using the wishbone and start hurling the rock 50 times a game, making the Heisman Trophy a debate about Big 12 quarterbacks. Three Pac-10 teams rank among the nation's top 25 in rushing, but only one in passing, while seven Big 12 teams rank in the top-25 in passing -- including five of the top 10. What in the name of Barry Freaking Switzer is going on here?

The Pac-10 envies... other conference's cost of living: While Oregon, Oregon State, Washington State are in college towns, the other seven Pac-10 teams are located in urban areas, with California, Stanford, UCLA, USC and Washington located in cities that rank among the most expensive in the country. An assistant coach making $100,000 at Auburn needs to make $163,000 if he wants to keep pace at Stanford. That $4.4 million Pete Carroll makes at USC? He'd only need to get $2.7 million to maintain his cost of living in Norman, Okla. 

Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

Next, I'm going to look at what a few conferences from the Independents and Others envy about other FBS conferences from around the country.

  • The Mountain West (and every other non-AQ conference) is envious (and even slightly annoyed) of the six automatic qualifying conferences that earn automatic bids to BCS games despite being ranked lower and having fewer wins that some of the teams in their conference. Last season, the Mountain West had two teams finish higher in the rankings than the Big East and ACC's highest-ranked teams and just one made a BCS game. Also, the Mountain West boasted the only undefeated team in Utah and the Utes weren't considered for the national title.

  • The Mid-American Conference is envious of the Mountain West and WAC because their teams seem to carry more clout with the BCS. Ball State was 12-0 in the regular season and was never really being considered for a BCS game because the MAC was perceived as a weak conference. Both Utah and Boise State, which also were undefeated during the regular season (neither plays a championship game), were in the hunt for a BCS game until the final standings were released.

  • The Sun Belt is envious of pretty much every other conference because it is the only conference with just one guaranteed bowl. The Sun Belt champion plays in the New Orleans Bowl. The conference also has secondary tie-ins with the St. Petersburg Bowl, the Papajohns.com Bowl and the Independence Bowl, but those tie-ins fell through last year because the conference didn't have any 7-5 teams other than conference champion Troy. Florida Atlantic earned a bowl berth as a 6-6 team and won, but so far that's done little to help the conference's guaranteed postseason opportunities.
  • Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

    Our green day at ESPN.com continues, and we're not talking about the punk rock band. Actually, right now, a song by another band that became popular in the 1990s -- the Gin Blossoms -- would be appropriate.

    Hey, jealousy.

    Earlier we listed the things that make Big East teams green with envy when they look at schools within their own conference. Now it's time to examine what the Big East envies from other conferences.

    (Cue Gin Blossoms).

    The Big East is jealous of:

    The attendance in the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12. Big East fans are passionate, but they can't come anywhere near matching the way other leagues put fannies in seats. The SEC and Big Ten each had two schools average more than 100,000 fans per home game last season, while Texas drew an average of more than 98,000. The top Big East draw was West Virginia, which attracted a little more than 58,000 per home game. You could put the home crowds together from Cincinnati, Louisville and Syracuse and not reach some of the attendance figures from the other leagues. And, of course, more fans in the stands means more money.

    The Pac-10's scheduling. The Big East doesn't really want to expand to 12 teams and have one of those phony conference title games. But the fact is, an eight-team league makes scheduling a headache because each school has to find five nonconference games. And it's even worse when it's your year to have just three league home games instead of four. The Pac-10 plays nine league games, giving schools at least four and sometimes five guaranteed home draws and putting far less pressure on finding nonconference opponents.

    The SEC's respect. Granted, the SEC has earned respect of late by winning the last three BCS titles. But even its lowest-performing members get a pass simply for playing in the mighty league. It doesn't matter when West Virginia beats Georgia or South Florida wins at Auburn. The SEC is still viewed as the king and the Big East is seen mostly as a pauper.

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