The Pac-10 has been the number 2 conference in recruiting for the past few years. And while the SEC is number 1, the average rating of recruits of Pac-10 teams is just as good. For the 08 class, the Pac-10 has the highest average rating. They also had the most players in the top 100. The overall ranking is skewed by the fact that the Pac-10 has less teams than the SEC, Big 12, and Big 10. No doubt the SEC dominated the 06 and 07 classes, but 08 starts a downward trend for the SEC. The pac-10 is about equal to the SEC in terms of recruiting, as of now. And all this time, the Pac-10 has been superior to the Big Ten and Big 12.
Pac-10 Versus SEC Games
I've been saying all along, the best way to determine the superiority of one conference to another is simply play games between each other. With the UCLA win over Tennessee, the Pac-10 is now 10-6 against the SEC, since 2000. For those that have been saying that the Pac-10 is all about USC, if you take out USC and LSU, the two powerhouse teams, the Pac-10 is 6-2 against the SEC. The numbers speak for themselves.
Non-Conference Scheduling and Bowl Eligibility
SEC fans are quick to point out that 10 out of 12 teams were bowl eligible last year, and 9 the year before that. Only 6 pac-10 teams were Bowl eligible last year, and 8 the year before. If you look at the teams from the SEC that barely were eligible, South Carolina and Alabama, you can see that they only got in because of their easy OoC scheduling. I can go into details listing out their opponents but I'll save myself the time. Had SC lost 1 non-conference game, or Bama lost 2, they would not have been bowl eligible. Vanderbilt, the team that almost made it, also won all of its easy non conference games. You really only have to win 3 out of 9 games in the SEC to be bowl eligible. It has completely lost its meaning. The Pac-10 teams on the other hand, all had tough opponents. Of the teams that barely were eligible, UCLA and Cal, LA beat BYU and Utah, and Cal, I'm sure you know about Cal. Of the teams that were barely ineligible, Wazzu and Arizona, Wazzu played Wisconsin, and Zona also played BYU. Other teams like Washington, who were 2 wins away played Boise, Ohio State, Syracuse. At least the Orange are a BCS team. If you don't play tough out of conference games, theres no way to gauge how good the conference is. The tough OoC games that the SEC have played, they've gotten embarrassed by the Pac-10. If you want to be completely unbiased, look at the strength of schedules of the conferences. The SEC had an average strength of schedule of 20. The pac-10 had an average strength of schedule of 10.7.
I tried googling for bowl victories but all I found was BCS bowl records and 07-08 bowl records. In both, the Pac-10 and SEC have the same amount of losses, but the SEC had slightly more wins. However, these numbers are not substantive enough to make for a valid basis of judgment. SEC fans like to point out national championships, but the fact is the sample space is too small to work with. BCS bowl records would be better, but still not adequate. The best would be bowl records since 2002, but as I said, I couldn't find those stats and I dont want to compile them myself.
The SEC has some great coaches, but all I can say on this one is that the Pac-10 is catching up. The Neuheisel-Chow combo is as good of an offensive coaching staff as your going to get in the league. Pete Carroll, the best coach in the league. Dennis Erickson is completely legitimate, that is a team to watch out for, he went 10-3 in his first year. Jim Harbaugh is starting to turn stanford around. Mike Riley has oregon state turned around, they've had the second best record in the pac-10 over the span of the last 2 years. Tedford has been insanely close to a BCS bid a few times. Mike Bellotti has a couple of conference titles as well as a BCS bowl victory. The SEC is much better in terms of coaching, but the Pac-10 has made some significant changes in the past few years. Eventually they will be close. If Saban and Spurrier didn't come in, I'd say the Pac-10 coaches would be about even if not better than the SEC's.
This is too much to go into, but it parallels the stuff I said about recruiting.
The SEC is not some sort of champions league, its not far and away the best conference. It is the best, but not by much. You cant just look at the positives of the SEC and ignore the positives of the other conferences, which is the what nearly all SEC fans are guilty of. My personal critique is, that the SEC championship game throws the rankings completely off, and that's how so many SEC teams get ranked so high. Its essentially a semi-final game where the winner goes to the championship. This way SEC teams get far more leeway in losses and the quality of those losses. It is the thing that pushes SEC teams over the top. They have the most title wins, but they also have the most opportunities. The purpose of this post was to bring respect to the Pac-10.