Is There a Big 12 Bias?

Recently, I shot back in the latest exchange of fire between the Pac-10 and the S.E.C. . . . but I find myself wondering whether West Coast fans are fighting the wrong enemy.

Don't worry; I'm not going to let any crazy bald female singers rip up photographs of world religious leaders here at Dawg Sports. (Image from Amazon.com.)

Ted Miller---yes, that Ted Miller---recently quoted Oregon coach Mike Bellotti thusly:

It's a very obvious conclusion to reach. In intersectional competition, when you play against [the Big 12], I think you compare. You say, OK, the Pac-10 versus Big 12, if the Big 12 wins more of those games head-to-head, then they're the better league. If the Pac-10 wins, then we're a better league. . . . Certainly, the fans will look at it that way.

Miller notes that, in this weekend's college football action, four Pac-10 teams will be favored to beat Big 12 opponents in matchups between Arizona State and Colorado, Baylor and Washington State, Nebraska and Southern California, and Oklahoma and Oregon.

Much of the vitriol we see expended by those who are most vehement in decrying the so-called East Coast bias is directed at the Southeastern Conference. I have a simple question.

Why?

I understand the slights for which the Pac-10 seeks redress.

In 2001, Oregon was denied a berth in the national championship game, which went instead to . . . Nebraska, a team that did not win its division.

Some observers believe the Ducks were denied the Rose Bowl berth because test groups responded poorly to Mike Bellotti's hair, finding it "so '80s" when compared to Mack Brown's less dated mane.

In 2003, Southern California was denied a berth in the national championship game, which went instead to . . . Oklahoma, a team that did not win its conference.

In 2004, California was denied a berth in a B.C.S. bowl, which went instead to . . . Texas, a team whose head coach lobbied for the Rose Bowl bid.

Granted, the latter season also produced desperate attempts by Auburn to claim a piece of the national title, but the Tigers' case really boiled down to an argument that they deserved a chance to appear in the championship game opposite U.S.C. Instead, the role of preferred Orange Bowl loser went to . . . Oklahoma.

Am I the only one who sees a pattern here?

I'm not necessarily taking one league's side against the other's here, but it seems clear that the quarrel is between two particular conferences . . . and the S.E.C. ain't one of 'em.

Bias against the Pac-10? Not our fault. Rampant cheating? O.K., that we do.

The term "East Coast bias" often is taken to mean "pro-S.E.C. bias," but, whatever it may be, it assuredly is not that. If anything, E.S.P.N. displays an anti-S.E.C. bias and, while I agree with L.D. that the Worldwide Leader's decisions are strictly business, you can't argue that the boys from Bristol are prejudiced for the Southeastern Conference and against the Pacific-10 when "College GameDay" is shanghaied from Knoxville to Los Angeles.

Whenever the Pac-10 has had a gripe, though, it seems that the putative offending party hails from Big 12 country. Could it be that the S.E.C. is on the receiving end of misplaced anger that the league does not deserve?

If so, why is it that a conference that is merely an innocent bystander gets singled out for special criticism when the real culprits---if, indeed, culprits there be---are found to the right of the Pac-10 and to the left of the S.E.C.?

Perhaps it is wrong to portray this as a conflict between competing coasts, as though the Notorious S.E.C. were tangling with the Tupac-10. Maybe the real objects of West Coast fans' scorn are to be found not along the oceanfront, but in the continental middle.

Go 'Dawgs!

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