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SEC POWER RATING TRENDS
For many years, the pundits and the on the field results have supported the view that the SEC provides the best in college football. In recent years, the SEC has produced the National Champion, and in years that the SEC failed to do so, the SEC provided the runner up in what has been regarded as the National Championship game under the BCS system. In the first two years of the four team championship playoff, the SEC has contributed one participant each season, winning the championship in 2016.
These SEC champions have come from the East and West Divisions of the SEC with Florida, LSU, Auburn, and Alabama all capturing at least one National Championship in this period of dominance. One year, the SEC produced both teams to play for the National Championship, despite the outcry from the protagonists of the PAC12, Big 12, Big 10, and ACC.
The BCS system started for the 1998 season and ended with the 2013 season. The four team championship playoff system started with the 2014 season. The 18 champions, crowned by these systems include a who's-who of college football history. The first 8 season produced champions from each of the Big 5 Power Conferences, with the ACC, Big 12, and SEC each claiming two championships, and the Big 10 and Pac 12 each claiming one. However, the SEC then claimed the next 7, between 2006 and 2012 before Florida State broke the SEC run by beating the SEC's 2nd or 3rd best team of the 2013 season. In 2014, Ohio State won the championship, and in 2015, Alabama returned to the winner's circle.
The period I have selected to examine for this analysis are the 2010 through 2015 seasons, inclusively. Certainly, by 2010, the SEC dominance was well established. For several years, the SEC's power, top to bottom, tracked along relatively constant levels, with an average power rating between 78 and 79 based on Adjusted Net Efficiency (ANE). The West has tracked along at a slightly higher level than the East, yet the East was able to produce two national champions in the recent 7 year dominance (Florida twice), and the SEC East produced one of the SEC's two Pre-BCS champions in the 1998 through 2005 period (Tennessee 1998). However, the SEC West produced 6 champions in the same period, from three teams (Alabama 3, LSU 2, and Auburn 1).
Through the 2012 season, the customary relationship between the SEC and the Nation, and the customary relationship between the SEC East and SEC West appeared to remain consistent. In 2012, the SEC East appeared to be closing the gap with the SEC West. However, over the last 3 seasons, the SEC West has expanded its level of superiority over the SEC East. This widening of the East-West gap occurred initially due to much higher levels of play by the SEC contingent, but in 2015, the SEC East compounded the gap with a measureable decline in the overall power of the SEC East group.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks