The SEC vs The ACC- It’s Apples and Oranges


Don’t get sucked in….

Sometime in the last twenty years, the college football fans changed. Exactly when that change started to occur is hard to pinpoint, but there’s no denying the fact that there’s been a change. Somewhere along the line, fans went from not only cheering on their favorite team, but also cheering on the entire conference their favorite team plays in.

Commonly referred to as “conference pride,” this is something that was born amongst the SEC fanbases, and something ESPN quickly started to push. From 2007-2012, the conference produced six straight national champions. Five SEC schools have combined to win nine national titles since the year 2000 (LSU and USC were co champs in 2003). The other four P5 conferences have won nine titles combined over that same time frame, with Miami winning one out of the Big East in 2001. Looking at just those numbers, it’s hard to argue that the SEC hasn’t been the best football conference since the year 2000. Is that not the way it’s supposed to be though?

There’s no other P5 conference that gets compared to the SEC more than the ACC does. On the surface, it is a logical comparison, especially considering the geographical footprint of the two, and some of the natural rivalries. Dig a little deeper however, and the similarities start to get few and far between.

The SEC consists of fourteen schools, including the flagship public universities of eleven states. Up to ten of those schools could be considered “big boy” football schools. Several of those may not have the results in recent years for some to consider them “big boy” football schools anymore, but results or not, they still have the resources, and football comes first. The SEC is just flat out a football conference. Want to see how committed most SEC schools are, just look at each stadiums seating capacity.

Alabama- 101,821         Arknasas- 76,000                                                                      Auburn- 87,451               Florida- 88,548                                                                            Georgia- 92,746               Ky- 61,000                                                                                      LSU- 102,321                    Ole Miss- 64,038                                                                            Miss St 61,337                  Mizzou- 60,168                                                                               UofSC-  80,250                 Tenn- 102,455                                                                              Texas A&M- 102,733       Vandy- 40,350

You don’t build stadiums that size, unless the plan is for football to be king. Keep in mind these were built long before the television boom and the hundreds of millions of dollars that came along with it. This was a football conference from day one.

By comparison, the ACC stadiums and capacities….

Boston College- 44,500   Clemson- 81,500

Duke- 40,004                    FSU- 79,560

Ga Tech- 55,000               L’ville- 61,000

Miami- 65,326                 UNC- 51,000

NCST- 57,583                   Pitt- 65,500

Syracuse- 49,262             UVA- 61,500

Va Tech- 65,632               Wake- 31,500

Not much of a comparison. Add in the large alumni bases for most SEC schools and the fact that for many years now the television money that SEC schools have been bringing in is close to double the amount of ACC schools, and it’s not even close to a level playing field.

For a long time, the results of head to head matchups between the two conferences bore out exactly how uneven the playing field is. All time the SEC is 311-167-10 vs the ACC, along with a 44-28 advantage in bowl games. Break down the numbers over the past four decades and they’ve held fairly steady, despite the SEC widening the gap from a revenue standpoint.

  • SEC vs ACC
  • 1980-89- 37-21-2
  • 1990-99- 33-26-1
  • 2000-09- 47-32
  • 2010-2018- 49-40

Since the start of 2015, the two conferences are dead even, 23-23. That, in and of itself, is a huge win for the ACC. Let’s face it, the ACC is a basketball conference, first and foremost. Syracuse and Pitt weren’t added in the most recent round of expansion due to their football prowess.

It’s a basketball conference that just happens to have a handful of “football first” schools playing in it. Clemson, FSU, and Va Tech are really the only schools from the ACC that make football the priority.

With all that in mind, the SEC should be the better of the two conferences. Having more money, bigger and better facilities, as well as the reputation of being the best, those things attract the better players. For 13 consecutive years, the SEC has produced more NFL draft picks than each of the other P5 conferences.

2019 NFL Draft picks from each P5 conference

  • SEC: 64
  • Big Ten: 40
  • Pac-12: 33
  • ACC: 28
  • Big 12: 26

The 64 picks for the SEC set a new record for number of draft picks selected from one conference. It also more than doubled the number from the ACC.

When you get right down to it, comparing the two is really kind of silly.  It’s apples and oranges and if we’re being brutally honest, as a whole, the ACC shouldn’t even be competitive. Yet, somehow it is. In recent years they’ve done more than be competitive, literally holding its own against the biggest, baddest dog on the block. Not too shabby……..for a basketball conference, that is.



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