By War Eagle Atlanta
It's that time of the year again when with nothing left to do; it's time for the pundits to analyze the upcoming schedule for CFB, including a through examination of the purportedly weak SEC slate of out of conference games. The first article I saw was this one from NBC Sports, where the writer merely defines cupcakes as being 1-AA schools, then lists each OOC game for every team in the BCS conferences. (Editor's note. The Federal Government now requires a footnote each time that the terms Division 1-A or Division 1-AA are used that the new acceptable nomenclature be listed as well, Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), respectively. No word yet if the Fed will eventually require this disclaimer in Spanish...)
Fair enough. Give us your list of who you think the cupcakes are, but also give us a shot at defining the term. Consulting the WEA dictionary, we come across this:
cup-cake: kŭp'kāk' n. Traditionally, a small, weaker team, usually from Div 1-AA, scheduled to play a bigger team, typically from Div 1-A, but now expanded to be any team from a non-BCS conference playing a team from the BCS conferences, with the possible exception of the Big Eas(y)t. See also, University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa, this century...
You can probably add to that definition the concept that if you're a team from a BCS conference, you are NEVER anyone else's cupcakes, with the possible exception of being an Inner-Conference Cupcake (ICC). Copyright pending, WEA, 2008. You know, like a Vandy or a Duke??
Okay, great. We now have our parameters. The reason I wanted to define the term is because the writer of that column goes on to gloriously boast that the Pac 10 had only two cupcakes lined up this season, compared to significantly more for the rest of the conferences. Only two cupcakes? Come on. So I decided that I'd lend my own analysis, using my definition above and find out where the cupcakes are being baked. Keep in mind that my definition is more liberal than the one the he uses so there will be more cupcakes for everybody. It's finally time to separate the men (BCS) from the boys (mid-majors). And since some conferences have more teams than others, I broke the cupcake count out to an average per team in the conference, rather than list the total per conference. Here's what I found:
1) PAC 10 1.4 cupcakes per conference team
2) ACC 2.17 per team
3) SEC 2.83 per team
4) Big 10(11) 2.91 per team
T5) Big East 3.00 per team
T5) Big 12 3.00 per team
As you can see, yes indeed, the Pac 10 did come out ahead of everyone else by far, but the SEC certainly wasn't the worst. And here's the problem that anyone should have with any cupcake count if you're trying to use it as some de facto strength of schedule barometer: IT DOESN'T TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE CONFERENCE SCHEDULE THAT YOU PLAY. And isn't that what we SEC fans have been screaming for decades? SEC teams have won 3 of the 7 Mythical National Championships this century; with a 4th team left out, so obviously something must be magical about our conference schedule to do that--especially considering that none of those three champions were undefeated.
So if you're going to mention the cupcakes in some team's schedule, why don't you mention their regular schedule in the same breath? Perhaps list how many of a team's opponents this season were ranked in the top 25 at the end of the last season? Sure, that was last year, but that's all the data we can use in a pre-season analysis. The point is that there's nothing wrong with scheduling a few cupcakes when you play the defending #1, #2, #6, and #12 teams from last year like we do this year, not to mention playing an additional 2-3 teams that will be ranked pre-season top 25.
And speaking of Auburn, no discussion of cupcakes can be complete without throwing the 2004 season in our face with the litany of Louisiana-Monroe, The Citadel, and Louisiana Tech. Everyone loves to discount our absence in the BCS CG to the cupcakes on our schedule, but they never remember that we beat four teams ranked in the top 15that year, compared to USC's two and Oklahoma's one. Yes, because of that BCS slight, we have unjustly become the poster child for cupcake reform in CFB--which is most ironic since we actually have the 5th strongest all-time strength of schedule rating in college football history.
But that's all the ammunition the other BCS schools have against the SEC. Even The Wizard of Odds gets into the fray with his analysis of Auburn and the SEC's OOC schedule this century. He mentions us as having only traveled for 3 OOC games out of 34; to Syracuse, USC, and GA Tech, but he fails to disclose any 1-game series we have had (Washington State, Kansas State) nor does he mention our trip to West Virginia this year. He even goes as far as to calculate the distance that Georgia has traveled for away OOC games--358 miles. Anyone know if he used Mapquest or Tom Tom to get that number?
So if that's all you got, talking about the weak teams we play, conveniently forgetting to mention the ferocity of our conference competition, then why don't you go pound sand? While you continue to wonder why only two teams in your conference are really competitive year after year, we'll keep beating each other up and eating our own and still win those mythical national championships, biding our time until we get a playoff and they disperse a few of our teams into the bracket and you really get to see how we play.