Every sport has that one entity that draws the ire of its peers. Major League Baseball has the New York Yankees. The NFL has the Dallas Cowboys. The rap game had Tupac.

It’s a classic case of “Me against the world.” The SEC is college football’s version of the wicked witch of the Southeast.

But how well-founded are the roots of the hatred for the SEC? Here’s a look at a few of the misconceptions attached to the conference.


Cupcakes will go straight to your thighs … and win column. The SEC regularly gets fat off inferior competition, or so the legend goes.

Fact is, every team enjoys the fruits of pounding an FCS team or something equivalent into oblivion. The conference, however, traditionally ranks up there annually among having the toughest slates. And 2016 appears to be no different.

The SEC has five of the top 10 toughest schedules in ESPN’s FPI rankings. Those five heading into this season are No. 2 Ole Miss, No. 4 Alabama, No. 6 Auburn, No. 8 Arkansas and No. 10 LSU. Pulling back a bit we find eight SEC teams in the top 16.

Yes, the SEC enjoys its contests against the likes of The Citadel, Delaware State, Wofford and Presbyterian, but they’re not alone. For every McNeese State against an SEC foe (weather permitting), there’s a UC Davis versus Oregon or a Louisiana-Monroe versus Oklahoma, as well as a Bowling Green versus Ohio State and Charleston Southern versus Florida State.

Everyone loads up, not just the SEC.


It’s true the SEC leads the nation when it comes to having its players arrested. But the conference isn’t chocked full of just lunk heads and guys wearing gas masks.

When it comes to tossing touchdowns and mortar boards, the SEC actually leads the way among Power 5 schools. The conference finished the 2015 season with six teams in the top 25 among graduation rates (Alabama, Florida, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, LSU and Ole Miss, in that order). The next-closest conferences with programs in the top 25 are the Big Ten and Big 12, who are tied with four teams apiece on the list. The ACC and Pac-12 each had three squads make the grade.


Early season polls and rankings can be woefully inaccurate. However, by-in-large, the polls tend to balance themselves out. Sure, there are a handful of misses every year. Auburn ranking No. 6 in the Associated Press rankings to start the 2015 season stands out among them. But so, too, does No. 15 Arizona State, No. 16 Georgia Tech and No. 23 Boise State. Yet when the dust settled, the SEC still had the most ranked teams, tied with the Big Ten with five each. That number is actually down compared to years past, such as 2014 and 2013, which saw the conference rank seven teams in the final polls; and 2012, where the SEC ranked six teams — all in the top 10.


OK, this one has a kernel of truth to it. But the notion of the SEC as a defense-only conference isn’t quite just. After all, the SEC has produced half of the Heisman Trophy winners in the past decade, while the Big Ten hasn’t had a winner since Ohio State’s Troy Smith in 2006. Only the Big 12 (Robert Griffin III and Sam Bradford) has had more than one winner during that time frame. It’s true Ole Miss was the lone SEC team in the nation’s top 25 according to scoring offenses last year, but the stat is skewed by teams such as No. 3 Western Kentucky, No. 6 Bowling Green and No. 13 Southern Mississippi. The SEC puts up numbers on offense, and lest we forget that the phrase isn’t “offenses win championships.”