Which conference deserves the most scrutiny in college football? [Poll]
Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss college football. Check back throughout the day for more responses and feel free to weigh in with a comment of your own.
Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times
I personally think it's time to crack down on the unscrupulous Sun Belt, MAC and WAC.
Seriously, though, the answer is easy -- follow the money. Six conferences rule in college football, led by the Southeastern, which has won five straight BCS titles. The six power conferences make the lion's share of the money, attract the most attention and require the most scrutiny. Unfortunately, there aren't enough cops to cover the neighborhood so schools cheat figuring there's a good chance they won't get caught.
For all the whispers about the SEC, not one of the league's BCS titles has been vacated. Maybe the SEC is just more experienced in these things. The Pac-12's only BCS title, won by USC in 2004, has been vacated and Oregon, last year's title-game loser, is under investigation. Ohio State, of the Big Ten, vacated all its wins last year. And these leagues are supposed to be our leaders and legends?
There's that old saying, "if you're not cheating, you're not trying." There is no question that, for the big boys, these are trying times.
It’s been a long time since we’ve seen as much scrutiny in the game of college football as we have this offseason. It seems like on a weekly basis, a program is under investigation or is being punished by the NCAA. There are many bad apples in the bunch but it seems there are a few more in the SEC’s bunch.
Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee have all had their off-the-field issues with LSU joining the ranks this week.
It also doesn’t help that with five consecutive BCS national titles, the SEC is the envy of other conferences with the target squarely on the back of the conference and its member programs. Consider the amount of scrutiny Auburn faced with the Cam Newton situation going on during the team’s title run. That won’t change this season especially with the possibility of the conference having seven or eight teams ranked in the preseason top 25.
Dave Fairbank, Newport News Daily Press
Easy call. The Sun Belt Conference. No marquee programs. No lucrative TV deal. No eight-figure BCS bowl tie-ins. And yet they happily play Division I Bowl Subdivision football. Clearly, they’re hiding something. While NCAA investigators and a battalion of snoops -- not to mention millions of fans -- scrutinize the BCS leagues, Sun Belt schools conduct business so far under the radar that even SEAL Team Six couldn’t find them.
Larry Blakeney has coached 21 years in Troy, Ala. That old rascal Howard Schnellenberger is hiding in plain sight at Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton. League schools are located in outposts such as Denton, Texas; Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Jonesboro, Ark.; and Lafayette, La. South Alabama joins the football cabal in 2013 after starting from scratch. League headquarters are in New Orleans. Need we say more?
[Updated at 1:41 p.m.:
Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune
A reader e-mailed me recently to share his view that any player who signs with a school that’s not in the Southeastern Conference must be afraid of competition. Yes, SEC fans have a rather high opinion of their league.
That’s warranted, of course, when you look at the SEC’s five-year winning streak in BCS title games. And its record against Ohio State in bowl games, which technically now is 10-0 because the Buckeyes’ victory over Arkansas in last season’s Sugar Bowl was not on the up-and-up.
Then there’s this: Since 1987, every SEC football program other than Vanderbilt has gotten busted for committing a major NCAA infraction. So, yeah, keep a close watch on the SEC. Think of Robert De Niro’s character, Jack Byrnes, pointing to his eyes in “Meet the Parents.”]