NASHVILLE -- I'm betting Bob Stoops isn't invited to make a guest appearance on the SEC Network any time soon.
Stoops is at it again, taking shots at the SEC and even calling out Nick Saban.
It's the same song, second verse. Last year, Stoops pointed out – correctly – that the SEC is a top-heavy conference and suggested that the perception of the SEC's superiority is due to "propaganda."
Emboldened by 45-31 victory over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, Stoops again has the SEC in his sights. He criticized the SEC for playing only eight conference games while the Big 12 plays nine. He reiterated his belief that the SEC is comprised of Haves and Have Nots.
"The bottom line is, all 14 aren't doing real well," Stoops said. "And there's some of them you wouldn't mind playing."
Are you listening, Tennessee? The Vols play at Oklahoma in Week 3. If Stoops wants to press home his point about the SEC, it could be reflected on the scoreboard.
The man's on a crusade. Responding to Saban's comments that he had trouble motivating the Crimson Tide for the Sugar Bowl because it was a "consolation game," Stoops said:
"I don't pay attention. We've played for quite a few national championships and when we don't play for one it never seems to be a mantra. But anyway, you can make all the excuses you want or not. …
"And they sure looked good that first series, I'll tell you that."
Indeed, Alabama drove 75 yards in just four plays on the first series of the Sugar Bowl to take a quick 7-0 lead. There was nothing in that drive to indicate the Tide lacked motivation because it was playing in a "consolation game."
Credit Stoops for calling out Saban, which seldom happens within the coaching fraternity. Among SEC coaches, only Steve Spurrier, who was Stoops' boss at Florida in 1996-98, has the guts to rattle Saban's cage. Everybody else bows respectfully and kisses the latest championship ring.
Look, I think Saban is by far the best coach in college football but his "consolation game" comment is an excuse – and a lousy excuse at that. The Crimson Tide got beat. Oklahoma, which entered the game as a 17-point underdog, was the better team that night. Saban and his staff were outcoached.
Likewise, Stoops' stated belief that the SEC lacks top-to-bottom balance is on target. The numbers don't lie. In the two years since the SEC expanded to 14 teams, the top six in the final standings are 55-5 against the other eight.
|Last season, the top six -- Auburn, Alabama and LSU in the Western Division, Missouri, South Carolina and Georgia in the East -- went 27-3 against the bottom eight. The rich just keep getting richer.
Alabama had the easiest time of it, with the Tide fattening its record with a 6-0 run through the second tier, winning those games by an average of 28.8 points.
Look for more of the same in the upcoming season. There's a clear division of power. It's one of the reasons Tennessee is having so much trouble rebounding. Once you fall behind, the top teams don't wait around for you to catch up. They pile on.
But that doesn't mean all hope is lost for some of those second-tier teams. One thing that separates the SEC from other conferences is the trend where a program can fall on hard times and recover quickly. Look at Auburn and Missouri. In 2012, those teams were a combined 2-14 in SEC games. Last season, they played for the conference championship.
As for Bob Stoops, he's made himself the talk of the preseason. And wouldn't it be poetic justice if Oklahoma and Alabama found themselves paired again in the postseason, this time in the national championship bracket?