Living out in the East Coast, Bruins and rest of the Pac-10 alums have to constantly put up with the non sense of how the SEC and ACC are greatest conferences ever, and Pac-10 might as well get treated the same way as generic MWC teams. Now I know as a Bruin football fanatic, we haven't had much going for us since October of 2001, but it does bother us to no end when we see blowhard wankers of MSM (think anyone from ESPN) constantly shitting on our Pac-10 cohorts at the expense of other over-rated (cough Texas/Cal BCS tussle) East Coast based media darlings.
Enter blogosphere to the rescue and setting some issues straight. CFR has a brilliant comparison between the PAC-10 and the SEC, putting forth a cogent analysis on why Pac-10 could be a better conference than the SEC, and just may be on par with ACC, which has positioned as itself as the premiere power conference in the country:
So, no, every year, an SEC team is not playing LSU, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Auburn and Alabama. Chances are any of the SEC Big Six gets three freebies within its division annually, either in the East (Kentucky, Vanderbilt, South Carolina) or West (Arkansas, Missississippi, and Mississippi State). In reality the SEC schedule is not that bad.
The SEC's two best teams last year were LSU and Auburn, and the Pac-10's 4th-5th best team, Oregon State, was a missed extra point or three away from a win over LSU on the road in the season opener.
Furthermore, claims of the SEC's strength lately have been that the conference is tough week-to-week, but I think USC's season last year showed quite well that in fact the Pac-10 is one of the more prolific conferences, where even the bottom dwellers are having success against the elite teams. USC's toughest games last year were in fact, not from tough OOC foes like Oklahoma and Virginia Tech, but from within the conference, specifically Stanford (31-28), UCLA (29-25), Oregon State (28-20) and California (23-17).
Is the SEC really, really so great? No doubt there's an incredible amount of talent in the conference, but we think we're onto something with this sophistication thing, and there's a decent dose of it in the Pac-10. Not surprisingly, most of USC's recent challengers have been from within the much maligned Pac-10.
Next---Yes, losses are losses, but the Oregon State game is quite worthy of bringing up. It was indicative of a weakness with the idea or belief that the SEC is unchallengeably superior to every conference. The public perception in general is that the Pac-10 is a weak conference, but when you find apparent huge mismatches like Oregon State @ LSU in a season opener where LSU basically was the lesser of the two teams on the field, you can't just continue on claiming that the SEC is so all superior.
As far as Notre Dame/Tennessee, most pundits treat Notre Dame as an impotent has-been, its few wins coming against softies on its schedule. Then it beats Big Ten power Michigan and SEC power Tennessee and there's just no explanation as to why, glossed over as a weird game because the Tennessee quarterback got injured. I saw Rick Clausen have a bad game against Notre Dame in relief, but he had a terrific finish after that game. In fact, he looked more impressive leading that team than Erik Ainge. In other words, by accident the Vols got to play their better quarterback against Notre Dame. They still failed. They were allegedly the SEC's #2 or #3 team last year, but we're supposed to ignore that game, as if it's no chink in the SEC's armor? Um...
Next, the Pac-10 had its strange losses last year. When we look at matchups we have to be somewhat honest about some of these games, though. UCLA should not have lost to Wyoming. That was embarrassing for them. Oregon State should have gotten smoked by Boise State, Boise's great! Pete's being silly with that one. And Oregon should not have lost to Indiana. It's weird, but they played much better against Oklahoma than they did against Indiana. Oregon spent much of the game in Oklahoma territory, but could not score. Then Adrian Peterson came out with one of his best runs all of last year, breaking a tackle as he sprinted up the middle, then making this smooth arc bouncing towards the sidelines and cruising effortlessly 40 yards into the end zone.
Two out of those three games were bad. Every conference has bad games, but we have to judge some of these appropriately. For example, Tennessee/Notre Dame!
Lastly, I don't know how to respond to that one. I treat the Pac-10 as a legitemate conference, it has one great team in USC, another great or near-great team in California, and another top 10-15 team in ASU, as well as contenders Oregon State and UCLA. In addition, the conference is due for some reshuffling soon, that's been the tradition, so maybe a return is in line for fomer top 10 occupant Washington State, or maybe Walt Harris can create some magic at Stanford.
In many ways, the Pac-10 is similar to the ACC. The ACC is competitive top to bottom, it has a nice balance all the way through (as Pete Fiutak accurately noted), and its members shuffle from year to year. NC State was doing great three years ago, but now UVA is one of the conference's better squads. And two years from now, things will once again look different.
One of the issues with the SEC is that its Big Six never change, never moving from the leadership. Those Big Six are Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, LSU, Auburn and Alabama. The bottom six (South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi and Mississippi State) are so noncompetitive that not a single member has won the SEC since 1977 when Alabama and Kentucky shared the crown. The last outright bottom six conference champion was Mississippi way back in 1963! That doesn't look very competitive to me.