The ‘SEC Bias’ Is All About Winning


In 2007 the Florida Gators faced Ohio State in Glendale, Arizona for the BCS National Championship. A freshman came on the scene – what was his name, Tebow something, right?

This game was before conference pride and before everyone hated the SEC during bowl season. It was also the first national championship for the SEC since LSU in 2003. After this night, the conference would not be viewed the same.

The SEC would go on a seven-year championship run. Florida would win twice, LSU once, Auburn once, and of course Alabama three times. On paper, this run is historic and is a feat that will more than likely never be accomplished again.

How happy was I? Not very.

You’re an SEC fan, how can you not be happy, you traitor?

Let me rephrase. Because of this run and because of the constant media attention, I feel like we lost what made the SEC special. Which was not caring about the rest of the country.

Should ESPN just not cover the top coaches, schools and players?

Growing up I had a little tradition on Saturdays. Wake up early (a feat that’s tougher now), take out the sports section, make my picks, and then spend the rest of the day eating wings and watching football at a sports bar I was probably too young to be in. I didn’t care about out of conference games; I would just go for the team I liked more. I wouldn’t care if an SEC team dropped a big bowl game, as long as my team won.

Now, if an SEC team – yes, even Vanderbilt – loses an out of conference game you can’t even go on Twitter without seeing some nutjob claim that every team in the conference is overrated.

What happened between then and now? Did the SEC fans put this on ourselves? Did the rest of the country just go crazy over the amount of attention towards the SEC?

It’s probably a bit of both. When it comes to ‘SEC bias’ or ‘conference pride,’ I was never big on it until more recently. What was once just rooting for the teams you’re more familiar with, developed into a perpetual hate of the rest of the country. It’s wanting Bob Stoops to have a nice plate of crow and a side of shut up. It’s hoping Oregon chokes because they said they wanted Alabama. And of course it’s wanting Florida State to drop every game.

My Saturdays went from a nice tradition and very fond memories to watching the scoreboard at Bryant-Denny Stadium more than paying attention to the fourth quarter of our games.

Rolling Stone recently published this article about SEC bias and ESPN’s relationship with the SEC. Now Jordan Burchette has done some really nice work on Rolling Stone, but it needs a response.

Let me break down exactly why ESPN is just so keen on the SEC.


What is the “world wide leader” supposed to talk about? The Big Ten this year? The ACC? Expecting ESPN to be fair and balanced on their air time is like expecting them to not talk about whatever Johnny Manziel or Tiger Woods does. It’s all about ratings.

So much so, ESPN funded the SEC Network, which has paid off so far this year. The top market for ESPN for almost a decade? Birmingham, Alabama. Is that surprising? Not really, we live for college football here. Doesn’t matter who is playing, the Birmingham market always delivers.

No matter how many people try to spin their own ideas about the SEC, football will always be king in the South. Which is why ESPN and others continue to hammer us with coverage. The passion, and of course winning, is like no where else.

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Take a look at the top coaches in college football. Where are they? The powerhouse schools of the SEC. Top recruits? The SEC. The South has become a recruiting hotbed and with Texas A&M joining the conference, the state of Texas has become sort of a pipeline state for the conference.

Should ESPN just not cover the top coaches, schools and players? How many other schools have a tailgate experience like Ole Miss? The eagle flying in Auburn? The pregame cheer at A&M? A night game in Death Valley? A dynasty run like Alabama?

I understand the complaints. Other schools aren’t respected because of the conference sticker on their helmet.

Let’s take Notre Dame and Florida State for example. For Notre Dame, they’re always going to have a national presence because of their tradition. However, when they went undefeated in 2012 and thought they would beat Alabama?

They didn’t play anywhere close to an SEC schedule, despite their ranking. That vaunted defense? Didn’t even really play a tough offense all year. Championship teams don’t take three overtimes to defeat Pittsburgh.

Now let’s go into this year with Florida State. There are complaints over the lack of respect for the Seminoles. So much so, the fan base and a good portion of the rest of the country is wondering why Florida State isn’t No. 1.

Let me try and make this pretty simple. As far as the ranking goes, you actually have to play someone. (But they played Notre Dame! Yes, exactly.) Barely beating your opponents almost every week isn’t a good look for a championship squad, especially against mostly basketball schools.

To a large extent, the college football playoff was created to cool off the SEC run. They were favored too much because of their schedule full of ‘overrated’ schools. And yet here we are, with two SEC teams in the four-team rankings, and Alabama just on the outside looking in.

If fans of other conferences really want to see change in the perception of the SEC, win. It’s a pretty simple concept. Winning cures all. Until then, it’s the SEC’s house, and everyone else is just paying rent.