SEC Bias

By Nick Muhl

This past week the SEC became the first conference to ever place four of its teams in the top five of the College Football AP Poll. The poll, which is released each Sunday following the week’s games and is voted upon by sports writers who are members of the associated press, has been around since 1936.

#1 Mississippi State, #3 Ole Miss, #4 Alabama, and #5 Auburn are all members of the SEC Western Division. All of the teams still have to face each other, with the exception of Ole Miss and Alabama (Ole Miss beat Alabama 23-17 earlier this month). This fact may save the voters from facing controversy from the world of college football once again.

Since 2009, the SEC has placed 3 teams in the top five in the AP poll 16 times. The SEC conference has become the power conference in college football, repeatedly recruiting the best players in the nation and winning national championships. It is also well documented the bias that many fans believes exists towards the SEC compared to conferences including the Big Ten and ACC.

This week’s poll is no exception in providing further evidence of what some consider being an SEC favored bias by the media. Michigan State, Kansas State, TCU and Ohio State all with one loss moved only slightly or not at all in the rankings after earning victories over conference opponents. Meanwhile Alabama, Auburn and Georgia all with one loss on the season and playing conference opponents as well, climbed into the top five and 10 of the AP rankings.

The establishment of the new 13-person committee to select the 4 teams for the new college football playoff will eventually replace the AP rankings at season end and put a silence to much of the criticism. However, the AP poll has been an influence on the teams considered for the championship for a long time and it is hard to imagine a team outside of the AP top 5 making the playoff regardless of a committee.

What does this mean for teams like Michigan State, TCU or even Marshall? The Thundering Herd are currently 7-0, but only ranked #23 in the latest poll. The Duke Blue Devils, that’s not a basketball typo, are 6-1 and remain unranked – same goes for the Big Ten’s Minnesota Gophers. In fact only 5 of the Top 25 teams are from the Big Ten and ACC.

The existence of an SEC bias isn’t just located in the AP poll. It is also well documented that many college football fans believe ESPN and the NCAA have favoritism towards the conference. Fans on many forums make claims that the entire thing is a play just to make money.

The truth is, like in all sports, it will always come down to the play on the field. The SEC has won 8 of the last 11 championships since 2003 and someone will have to beat them before anyone can be silenced.

Rank Team Record Pts Last Week
1. Mississippi St. (43) 6-0 1480 1
2. Florida St. (14) 7-0 1433 2
3. Mississippi (3) 7-0 1404 3
4. Alabama 6-1 1235 7
5. Auburn 5-1 1231 6
6. Oregon 6-1 1142 9
7. Notre Dame 6-1 1133 5
8. Michigan St. 6-1 1066 8
9. Georgia 6-1 1055 10
10. TCU 5-1 962 12
11. Kansas St. 5-1 905 14
12. Baylor 6-1 858 4
13. Ohio St. 5-1 753 13
14. Arizona St. 5-1 643 17
15. Arizona 5-1 639 16
16. Nebraska 6-1 537 19
17. Oklahoma 5-2 461 11
18. East Carolina 5-1 445 18
19. Utah 5-1 437 20
20. USC 5-2 356 22
21. Clemson 5-2 283 24
22. West Virginia 5-2 272 NR
23. Marshall 7-0 184 25
24. LSU 6-2 177 NR
25. UCLA 5-2 118 NR

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