A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and a conference in college football is only as good as its weakest team.

We spend so much time breaking down the top teams in every conference when trying to compare leagues, but one criteria we never analyze is the bottom of the leagues’ standings.

Sure, these teams are far from championship contenders (and championships are a big part what college football is all about), and yes, these teams are stocked with players few casual fans are familiar with.

But just because a conference has some of the nation’s best teams at the top of its standings doesn’t mean it can’t also have some of the country’s weakest programs at the bottom for those power programs to feast on.

Comparing the bottom-feeders of each conference is a great way to assess the depth of a league. For instance, the Big 12 may have had two of the top six teams in college football last season in TCU and Baylor, but it also boasted two of the worst teams from all of the power five conferences (perhaps the absolute two worst teams) in Kansas and Iowa State.

Meanwhile, the SEC, which many perceived to take a step back due to the lack of an elite team beyond Alabama, was stronger at the bottom, with 13 of 14 teams in the conference winning at least five games.

The same principles hold true in recruiting. Vanderbilt, which claims the SEC’s lowest-rated recruiting class in the 247Sports industry composite rankings, hauled in the No. 47 class in the nation out of 128 teams that form the FBS. Each of the other four power conferences had at least one class rated No. 64 or worse.

Not only are the five total teams from those four conferences (Syracuse No. 64; Purdue No. 65; Colorado No. 68; Iowa State No. 71; Kansas No. 74) all behind the SEC’s worst class, they’re not even in the ballpark.

The fact of the matter is, the SEC doesn’t provide teams with an easy conference game. The league lacked a dominant force in 2014 because the conference’s depth wouldn’t allow it. Should that be an indictment on the quality of the league because it lacks a Kansas and Iowa State to score free wins against? That doesn’t seem just or fair.

So although it seems wacky, the strength of a league should not be determined by the teams at the top, although those teams may be the most relevant to the national landscape of college football.

Instead, it should be determined by the teams at the bottom, the Vanderbilts, Kentuckys, Iowa States and Syracuses of the FBS. Because at the end of the day, a conference is only as strong as its weakest program.