Follow the money
Los Angeles Times
The answer is easy — follow the money.
Six conferences rule in college football, led by the Southeastern, which has won five straight BCS titles. The six power conferences make the lion's share of the money, attract the most attention and require the most scrutiny. Unfortunately, there aren't enough cops to cover the neighborhood.
For all the whispers about the SEC, not one of the conference's BCS titles has been vacated. The Pac-12's only BCS title, won by USC in 2004, has been vacated and Oregon is under investigation.
Ohio State, of the Big Ten, vacated all of its wins last year. There's that old motto, "if you're not cheating, you're not trying." For the big boys, these are trying times.
SEC too good to be true?
A reader emailed me recently to say that any player who signs with a school that's not in the Southeastern Conference must be afraid of competition. Yes, SEC fans have a rather high opinion of their league.
That's warranted, of course, when you look at the SEC's five-year winning streak in BCS title games.
Then there's this: Since 1987, every SEC football program other than Vanderbilt has gotten busted for committing a major NCAA infraction.
So, yeah, keep a close watch on the SEC. Think of Robert De Niro's character, Jack Byrnes, pointing to his eyes in "Meet the Parents."
Target the SEC
It seems like every week a college football program is under investigation or is being punished by the NCAA. There are many bad apples in the bunch, but it seems there are a few more in the SEC's bunch.
Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee all have had their off-the-field issues, with LSU joining the ranks this week.
It also doesn't help that with five consecutive BCS national titles, the SEC is the envy of other conferences with the target squarely on its back. Consider the amount of scrutiny Auburn faced with the Cam Newton situation during the team's title run. That won't change this season, especially with the possibility of the conference having seven or eight teams ranked in the preseason top 25.
Shed light on Sun Belt
Easy call. The Sun Belt Conference. No marquee programs. No lucrative TV deal. No eight-figure BCS bowl tie-ins. And yet the schools happily play Division I Bowl Subdivision football. While NCAA investigators and a battalion of snoops — not to mention millions of fans — scrutinize the BCS leagues, Sun Belt schools conduct business so far under the radar that even SEAL Team Six couldn't find them.
Larry Blakeney has coached 21 years in Troy, Ala. That old rascal Howard Schnellenberger is hiding in plain sight at Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton. South Alabama joins the football cabal in 2013 after starting from scratch. League headquarters are in New Orleans. Need we say more?