Crimson and Cream with Envy

This past week,  head coach of the University of Oklahoma football team, Bob Stoops, has once again taken a jab at the Southeastern Conference. After referring to the SEC’s reputation as “propaganda” in May, he made comments regarding the perception that SEC defenses are the most dominant in the country. Following questions about his thoughts on UGA quarterback Aaron Murray’s high pass efficiency, Stoops went on to make a string of sarcastic comments.

“How’s that happening? They’re playing all those SEC defenses,” Stoops said. “I still don’t know how (Texas) A&M was third in the country in total offense and scoring offense playing all those SEC defenses. I have no idea how that happened.

“Oh, they got a quarterback. That’s right.”

Stoops’ point is well made. After years of the SEC’s defensive supremacy, their offensive statistics are what’s catching national attention. Three of the top ten offensive players in the country- Johnny Manziel, Aaron Murray, and James Franklin- are in the SEC. Additionally, Murray, Manziel, and LSU’ Zach Mettenberger rank fourth, fifth and sixth respectively in pass efficiency in the country. Baylor’s Bryce Petty is the only top ten offensive player in the Big 12, a conference that is traditionally known for its offensive firepower and unimpressive defenses. Three Big 12 defenses (Baylor, Oklahoma and Texas Tech), however, rank in the top ten in scoring this season, while the SEC is represented by only one team, Florida.

This statistical switch is due to a variety of factors. The SEC has seen a recent growth in spread and hurry-up offenses built around a group of veteran quarterbacks who can both run and pass the ball. Many SEC teams also have young and inexperienced defenses, as well as defensive coordinators who are still adapting their schemes to the new SEC offenses. The Big 12’s improving defenses can be blamed on the lack of elite quarterbacks now that players like Robert Griffin III, Brandon Weeden, and Andy Dalton have graduated to the NFL. Almost every team in the Big 12 is starting a young or inconsistent quarterback, including the Sooners, who recently promoted redshirt Junior Blake Bell over previous starter and redshirt Freshman Trevor Knight.

What Stoops fails to recognize is his constant jabbing at the SEC only makes his program and his conference look weaker, especially since it draws the media into highlighting the differences between the two programs which, more often than not, point toward SEC dominance. So far this season, there have been three Big 12 and SEC matchups. The SEC has won two of them, the only loss belonging to an embarrassingly bad Mississippi State team at Oklahoma State. Stoops hasn’t played an SEC team since last season, when his Sooners were demolished 41 to 13 by former Big 12 member Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. Before that, his record against the SEC as the Oklahoma head coach sits at 3-3, with none of his wins occurring in the last decade. The SEC also produces much more NFL talent as the Big 12. In 2013, the SEC had 63 players drafted into the NFL, 35 of which were defensive. The Big 12 had only 22 players taken by NFL teams.

Despite the numbers being stacked against the Oklahoma Sooners, or the Big 12 as a whole, Bob Stoops will never stop taking shots at the SEC. As a head coach in what was once the second best conference, which now doesn’t even have enough members to hold its own championship game, he will always try and escape from the shadow in which he lives. He will refuse to recognize that the SEC is just that good from top to bottom and that the conference is proving it has the ability to dominate offensively as well as defensively. And until a team from another conference wins a national title, everyone else will continue to roll their eyes.

 

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