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Stop Whining, There is No SEC Bias!

College Football

College Football

The initial College Football Playoff rankings were released amid a sea of anti-SEC sentiment and swirling ESPN conspiracy theories. Gasp, four of the top six teams hail from the SEC. 

Why did this happen? Because the SEC and ESPN have a business relationship? For the angry mob, that means ESPN is propping up a bunch of phony SEC teams with talking head rhetoric. At the same time, the Mothership undermines every other quality team in the nation with negative publicity while turning a blind eye to the SEC's problems.

There is so much wrong with these theories that it's almost difficult to pick a place to begin.

Unlike ESPN, I have zero financial ties or obligations to the Southeastern Conference.

Athlon Sports doesn't sell any more magazines if we pick the SEC to win the national title or rank their teams in our Top 25. There is no evidence to suggest we make more of a profit by picking one team or league over another.

The beauty of working for SiriusXM College Sports Nation is that there are no ratings. Not one host on our channel is beholden to any one league or another because it drives or doesn’t drive listenership.

At both companies, our conversations are driven by the love of the college game. I’ve been taught to have anything but an SEC bias.

But only the truly irrational and blindly ignorant would argue against the SEC as the best college football has to offer right now.

First, the concept that ESPN benefits somehow from more SEC teams landing in the four-team playoff is comical. Ohio State, Notre Dame and Florida State would pull bigger TV ratings than Ole Miss or Mississippi State.

In fact, the most-watched college football game of the season was the Seminoles' narrow victory over the Irish two weeks ago (8.5 overnight). As ESPN College GameDay anchor and ABC broadcaster Chris Fowler said, the entirety of the sport and its financial partners, benefit the most when more regions of the country are represented. ESPN would benefit the most from a dominant Big Ten in particular.

Maybe Ohio State is No. 16 and Notre Dame is No. 10 because they just aren’t as good. Isn't it possible that the SEC Network's ratings would actually go up if the SEC gets left out of the Playoff?

Second, ESPN carries nearly every ACC game, most Big Ten games and shares the Big 12 and Pac-12 with FOX. So ESPN is in bed with those leagues as well to varying degrees.

A direct competitor, CBS, is the top SEC broadcaster every Saturday. So we're now suggesting that ESPN is intentionally propping up a direct competitor? College GameDay has been to three Florida State games this year, more than any other team in the nation.

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Third, the idea that Florida State's current publicity nightmare has somehow been fabricated because of a media witch hunt is myopic and silly. I've just shown you how valuable Florida State to the Mothership.

No, Jameis Winston, Jimbo Fisher, Karlos Williams, the Tallahassee Police Department and the powers that be at Florida State have only themselves to blame for their current PR predicament. The New York Times and FOX Sports have done an excellent job proving this point.

Yet Seminoles fans everywhere claim that the SEC hasn't gotten the same treatment. Are you kidding? Last I checked, Johnny Manziel received comparable airtime for less significant allegations or improprieties just one season ago.

Fourth, no outside influence — not even a powerful broadcast network — should be able to sway the College Football Playoff committee in any way. If a committee member is making decisions in that Dallas hotel based on what Jesse Palmer or Danny Kanell have poured into the ether, then they have far less integrity than previously believed and should no longer be working on the panel.

Lastly, and most important, has anyone outside of the South considered that maybe four of the best six teams in the nation are from the SEC?

Kansas State had a shot at Auburn at home and lost. Wisconsin had LSU beat and couldn't finish. Clemson tried to stop Georgia but failed. West Virginia played well against Alabama and still lost by double digits. Arkansas, a team that has lost 16 consecutive SEC games, went on the road and crushed Texas Tech.

Quality lower-tiered teams like East Carolina, UCF, Utah State and Boise State had Goliath on a big stage and got beat as well. These are all good teams (well, except Texas Tech) and all of them wilted against the SEC.

Oklahoma topped a bad Tennessee team at home and Missouri inexplicably lost to Indiana. That's it.

From the most powerful booster to the guy sitting in the top row, from the athletic director to the guy who laces the cleats, the SEC is simply more committed to winning than any other league. Sometimes that means it breaks more rules and crosses more lines, but that's because the SEC wants it more.

The SEC has won all but one national title since 2006, it puts more players into the NFL than any other league and has anyone found a poll or ranking from anyone with any credibility that suggests the SEC isn't the best? In fact, the top four teams in the nation according to both Football Outsiders and Sagarin Ratings all play in the SEC.

Stop making excuses, creating confounded conspiracies and pointing fingers.

The reason four of the top six — and six of the top 19 — teams in the initial playoff rankings are from the SEC is because they deserve to be there.

It's not any more complicated than that.