Statistically Confirming the SEC is Garbage

Posted by rtmsf on December 5th, 2008

During the nonconference portion of the season we can use the cross-pollination among the BCS teams as well as their games against the mid-majors as an early warning system of sorts to determine which conferences are the strongest in a given year.  Last year the Pac-10, for example, got off to a strong start, and by and large that conference was considered the best in the nation throughout most of the 2007-08 season.

Believe it or not, we’re already one-quarter of the way through the regular season (and halfway through the nonconference slate), so we have plenty of raw data to start making those determinations.  From what we see thus far, it appears that there are three grades of power conferences, with the ACC & Big East at the top, the Big 10 and Big 12 in the middle, and the Pac-10 and SEC pulling up the rear.  For confirmation, take a look at the table below.


Data Source:

Top Tier. The mark of a great conference is considerable success against its peers and domination of its subordinates.  Only the ACC and Big East can make this claim thus far.  The ACC has a winning record against every other conference so far except the Big East, whom it is tied with.  The Big East similarly has a winning record against all but the ACC and SEC, whom it is tied with as well.  Furthermore, both have strong records against the high mid-majors and the remainder of D1.

Mid Tier. The Big 10 and Big 12 are just a tick below the top two conferences in this measure.  Both have solid records against the high mids and the bottom of D1, but they’re essentially .500 conferences against their peers.  Note that the Big 10 is 2-0 against the Pac-10/SEC and the Big 12 is 6-2 against the same.

The Dregs.  It’s fairly clear to us that the Pac-10 and the SEC are the two worst BCS conferences as of this point in the season.  The Pac-10 is a terrible 4-10 against its peers, with its sole winning record of 2-1 against the other bottom-feeder SEC, and although it’s record against the high mids is ok, it has four Ls in only 29 tries against the rest of D1.  Of course, that seems like cause for celebration compared to the SEC, who has managed to lose one less game (9) to the Sun Belts and SoCons of the world than all of the other BCS leagues combined (10).  It has a winning record against absolutely none of its peers, and it also has more losses to the high-mids than any other BCS conference.  Amazing.  The SEC definitely takes the early season prize for worst ‘power’ conference in America.

Sagarin/Pomeroy. We wanted to cross-reference our quick-and-dirty analysis with a more robust statistical model or two, so we grabbed the current Sagarin and Pomeroy ratings and made a comparison.  In both cases, the SEC was dead last, with the Pac-10 slightly ahead, the Big 12/Big 10 in the middle, and the ACC/Big East at the top.  Well done.

Sagarin Ratings (12.05.08)


Pomeroy Ratings (12.05.08)


rtmsf (3998 Posts)

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2 responses to “Statistically Confirming the SEC is Garbage”

  1. bevo says:

    Why not make a cross tab with the names of the conferences in the header rows and header columns, and the winning percentage in the cell? Then you could run a Chi-square to determine if the cross tab (e.g., the whole table) is due to luck or randomness. That would tell you about a thousand percent more than your posting or two guys doing god knows what to data drawn from god knows where.

  2. rtmsf says:

    Seriously? You need a chi-square test to make a reasonable determination that the SEC is complete garbage this year? The losses to Mercer (x2), VMI, UIC, Loyola, Charleston and N. Iowa (among others) didn’t convince you? How about we do some regressions for you as well?

    Nevertheless, we’ll take the Pepsi Challenge. The Chi outcome is .1128. Does that make you feel better? Not significant, but a strong degree of independence nevertheless.

    One thing we do agree with you – we should have put up our data source, but we’re not sure what you’re talking about with “two guys.”

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