Does the SEC really deserve 10 teams in the Top 25?

In week one of the college football season, the SEC delivered by going 12-1. In the latest AP Poll, 10 were voted into the Top 25. TSS associate editors Bart Doan and Terry Johnson join staff writer Kevin Causey in our weekly roundtable to discuss this topic.

Before you read our roundtable make sure to bookmark our college football page where you can find all of our CFB articles. Also, revisit our roundtables from earlier this week as we discussed the biggest surprises of week onetransfer QBs and teams in need of a statement game.

Question: Does the SEC really deserve 10 teams in the Top 25?

Bart Doan:
On Twitter @TheCoachBart

Oh hell no. The only solace you get from this type of homer-ism is that the heads in the sand voting on this sort of stuff have zero say in the final product. You’d have thought after the last two years when we’ve seen that there is more equality across conferences maybe than we previously assumed that this, “SEC and then SEC, and then everyone else” mentality might shift. Nope. We’ll just double down on the silliness, apparently.

You’d be hard pressed to even find 25 teams that challenged themselves enough to deserve to be ranked, so almost all of it is assumption based I’d assume on team name or someone’s personal opinion based on absolutely no fact at this point. Even so, why not reward the teams that actually DID something in Week One?

Northwestern beat Stanford. At this point, we know Northwestern is halfway decent. Mississippi State beat Southern Miss, Tennessee over Bowling Green, and Florida … I can’t even remember who they beat. Same as Missouri, though I think it was Directional Missouri of Somewhere. Yet Northwestern is unranked?

All of this just points out the stupidity of polls and how we actually used this method in determining champions up until last year. Holy Toledo. Why bother winning games and challenging yourself? It won’t end with you being ranked in these chuckle head polls. Again, thank goodness it doesn’t matter.

Kevin Causey:
On Twitter @CFBZ

As an SEC homer, my answer is no. Each week at The Student Section we fill out a Top 25 ballot (results are posted here). I had eight SEC teams in my poll.

Which two were missing that were in the AP Top 25? Missouri (No. 20 in AP) and Tennessee (No. 23 in AP).

Missouri certainly has the talent to be a Top 25 team but I felt that teams like Utah, Northwestern, Temple, BYU and West Virginia were more deserving of a spot at the bottom of the Top 25 than Missouri was after beating SE Missouri State. Missouri has one of the easiest schedules in the SEC so I feel like they will be in the Top 25 soon but I think they need to earn it a bit more first.

Tennessee on the other hand….gave up over 500 yards to Bowling Green. I didn’t have them in my original pre-season Top 25 and that performance certainly wasn’t getting them in this week. For those keeping score at home, Tennessee has the 115th ranked defense in the country (in terms of total defense) and they have the 121st ranked passing defense in the country. For a team that hasn’t proved anything under Butch Jones, they simply haven’t earned it (yet).

The good news for Tennessee is they have a chance to show they belong this weekend when Oklahoma comes to town. Good luck, Willie Martinez is going to need as much as he can get.

Terry Johnson:
On Twitter @SectionTPJ 

When I looked at the AP Poll this week, it made me think back to when I was in high school. It reminded me of a Sega Genesis commercial where a person was voting on the national championship. Since he wasn’t sure who to pick, he threw a dart at the dartboard, and it landed on Boise Tech, who he selected. After that, the commercial showed a fictional headline saying, “Despite Going Winless, Boise Tech Wins the National Championship.”

That commercial was pure genius. In an era loaded with split titles, every kid in America wanted to rush out to buy the game and determine the true national champion. Sure, there were a few oddballs like me that still used the bowl system, but most kids opted for an 8 or 16-team playoff to settle the issue on the digital gridiron.

So, how does that story relate to the AP Poll, which listed 10 SEC teams in the Top 25?

Simple: it made me wonder if the voters in the poll were using a similar process! Having 10 teams from a single conference – including an entire division – in the Top 25 is completely illogical. Even if voters were to disagree over which teams were going to finish in the bottom half of the division – which is probably the case here – it’s still very clear that many of the voters weren’t willing to look outside of the SEC when filling the ballot. How else would Mississippi State, which struggled at times against Southern Mississippi, get the nod over Northwestern, which upset a ranked Stanford team? Why does Tennessee get a pass for a less-than-impressive victory over a MAC school but Oklahoma State doesn’t?

As absurd as I think the current poll is, I don’t plan on losing any sleep over it. After all, in every week of conference play there will be seven winners and seven losers. The top half of the league will either feast on the bottom half or everyone in the league will cannibalize itself. Either way, the losses will add up and teams will fall out of the ranking. That certainly was the case last year, when the SEC finished the year with only six teams in the Top 25.