Abram's esteemed Michigan cousin (jbrater) and Abram have agreed pretty clearly in conversation that the SEC-Big Ten thing is overstated in the media often...but, we can't imagine that he seriously believes that there is a "Southeastern Media Bias." That's crazy. All this region gets from the national media is marginalization and ridicule.
Now, here's the deal: you can make stats say anything you want them to say. Big Ten enthusiasts can't just ignore the fact that the Big Ten has only one winning bowl record since 2003 while the SEC has no losing bowl records in recent memory--just like it would be wrong of us SEC folks to ignore the two conferences' .500 record head-to-head in recent years.
You can look at bowl records any way you want; this guy , for example, (obviously biased) has a lot of interesting conference-based analysis over the last 10 years that shows both head-to-head by conference and overall conference records, albeit with a predetermined SEC slant.
But how to determine actual quality of play? It's essentially impossible to quantify that intangible for sure, but let's try by looking at the two conferences' numbers of early NFL draft picks over the last five years. After all, NFL scouts have no agenda except to pick the best players for their teams.
- 2003: The SEC had 4 players taken in the first round and 5 in the second. The Big Ten had 6 taken in the first round and 9 in the second. Big Ten 1, SEC 0
- 2004: The SEC had 6 taken in the first round and 9 in the second. The Big Ten had 6 taken in the first round and 1 in the second. Big Ten 1, SEC 1
- 2005: The SEC had 10 taken in the first round and 5 in the second. The Big Ten had 4 taken in the first and 5 in the second. Big Ten 1, SEC 2
- 2006: The SEC had 4 taken in the first round and 6 in the second. The Big Ten had 8 taken in the first round and 1 in the second. Arguably a draw, but the Big Ten gets the nod because the first round is more important. Big Ten 2, SEC 2
- 2007: The SEC had 11 taken in the first round and 6 in the second. The Big Ten had 6 taken in the first round and 5 in the second. Big Ten 2, SEC 3
- All-in-all: The SEC has had 35 players taken in the first round and 31 taken in the second round over last five years. Over the same period, the Big Ten has had 30 players taken in the first round and 21 taken in the second round.
Overall, those numbers lean a little toward the SEC, but not as overwhelmingly as you'd think if you just relied on the national media and listened to everyone and their mother talking about the huge gap between the leagues. Which is what we've said all along (that is, when we're not just trying to anger jbrater): the SEC probably is the better conference based on depth of good teams and good programs. But the Big Ten is not some kind of embarrassment of a league, and it's not really all that far behind the SEC when taken objectively.
Finally, we think there are 2 things all can agree on: 1) Ohio State has made the Big Ten look a lot worse than it really is with their pitiful performances in the last 2 national championship games, and 2) The Big Ten has a HUGE advantage in basketball.