The SEC is King of the Pro Bowl

The SEC is still king of College Football and the Draft, but what about the Pro Bowl?

Before I prove my point, let me transcribe a phone call I overheard recently:

“Hey, SEC?”

“Yeah?

“It’s LeBron, how’s it feel to be out of the title game?”

“What was that? We couldn’t hear you through our – not four, not five, not six, but seven trophies.”

Despite a couple of SEC losses to coaches who have cut their championship teeth in SEC country (Jimbo and Urban since FSU and Ohio St. fans seem to forget that) the SEC is still the best conference. Ohio St. would have lost 3 games in the SEC this year, maybe 2.

Yes, you won the National Championship. Congrats. When you win seven in a row as a conference, come back and talk to us.

We know the SEC has dominated the draft. 2014 marked the 8th year in a row the SEC had the most draft picks. You can’t get by with a top-heavy conference there.

But what about the Pro Bowl?

I was curious about this, but found no database that could fit my needs. I tried to compare what others did year by year, but suddenly I realized something:

ALL PRO BOWL STATS ARE WRONG.

Don’t believe me?

In 2014 Andre Johnson and Jimmy Graham both made the Pro Bowl (2013 Season, 2014 Pro Bowl). Both players attended Miami. So, most people would count that as two selections for the ACC.

But Andre Johnson never played in the ACC. He was at Miami when they were a Big East team.

So I knew my mission.

But, then I hit another problem: a lot of players luck into the pro bowl.

Why should I count the players who got into the pro bowl because of injury or the guy in front of them going to the Super Bowl? They backed their way into it. They weren’t officially “selected.”

So, those were my rules:

1. Compile the numbers through the last 8 Pro Bowls (2008-2015)

2. Count only the players that were officially selected

3. Use their Senior Year in College to determine what conference the selection would count in.

This wasn’t as easy as it seemed. No one seems to have a break down year by year by selection; they wait till all the replacements show up at the Pro Bowl. I get it, there are more players and all the numbers are higher.

You thought conference realignment was confusing? Try looking up what conferences all these older pro bowl players actually played in. I had a cheat sheet to keep track of some of the harder to find conferences.

Tony Romo played in the Ohio Valley Conference. Victor Cruz played in the Colonial Athletic Association. Brett Favre attended Southern Miss when the school was an Independent. See my point?

Plus, once you get past 2010, it gets harder to find reliable information on the actual pro bowl selections (I verified everything through either ESPN or NFL.com).

What I ultimately found did surprise me, but not in the way you’d think.

Pro Bowl Selection Totals 2008-2015

Yep, the SEC is still King. But that’s not as fascinating at certain details when you crunch the conference numbers:

1.) Notre Dame has just been putrid. Four Selections in Eight Years. FOUR! And two of those are from Justin Tuck. If you wanted any proof Notre Dame has been just awful the past few years, here it is.

If you list all 125 Schools that had one pro bowl selection, Notre Dame would be tied for 53rd on the list. That’s level with college football powerhouses like Western Michigan, Indiana and Bethune-Cookman.

2.) The Big 10 has been the worst of the Power Six. Yep, the Big East may be gone, but they’re still better than the Big 10 for at least another year.

One reason for that is “The U,” but we’ll get to Miami later.

3.) The SEC has a slight edge in the Defensive selections, but blows everyone away at Offense.  Yep, the SEC has 18 more Offensive selections than the next highest conference. That’s really mind blowing to me. Now, players like Peyton Manning, Jason Peters (OT Arkansas), Arian Foster, Jason Witten, and the Pouncey brothers might have something to do with it.

So, now you might be wondering, what about the actual schools themselves? I present you a list of the top 25:

-Miami has the best talent period. Yes there are multiple players getting multiple selections, but when those players include Frank Gore, Vince Wilfork, Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Ed Reed, Jimmy Graham, Ray Lewis, Devin Hester, and others, you tend to dominate the landscape.

Imagine those games in the 80’s if you told Notre Dame fans Miami would be beating them 45-4 in Pro Bowlers. They would have laughed it off.

Perhaps the Big East would have the most selections if Miami had never left and the Big East stayed intact?

-No team who won a BCS Championship in our timeframe (2008-2015) is in the top 10. LSU is the closest at 11. In fact, of the teams who lost, only Texas and Oklahoma are in the top 10.

Oregon isn’t in the top 10 either and Ohio St. isn’t in the top 25!

College success isn’t about having superstars, it’s having super teams. Depth > Top Talent.

-It doesn’t really reflect how your school is doing on the field. Tennessee hasn’t been stellar in the past 7 years, so having players in the NFL like Peyton Manning, Arian Foster, Jason Witten accounting for 16 of the 25 selections can skew the numbers a bit. Cal has the same circumstance with Aaron Rodgers, Marshawn Lynch, and Tony Gonzalez grabbing multiple selections.

And in case you’re wondering how on Earth Kent St. (The only team in the top 25 not from a BCS conference) has that many selections, it’s almost solely due to James Harrison and Antonio Gates.

Some schools that have no business being here are dependent on single players. Bloomsburg (Yes that’s a college) has six pro bowl selections due to Jahri Evans alone (they’re in the PSAC conference). Two other examples include:

Idaho St.– Jared Allen (5 Selections)

Alabama A&M — Richard Mathis (5 Selections)

In conclusion, Pro Bowl numbers can be kind of useless, but one fact that remains is that the SEC is still King.

And it isn’t going away anytime soon. The last few drafts have seen the SEC mount a bigger lead in the numbers, and we haven’t seen a Missouri or Texas A&M Pro Bowler who spent any time in the SEC. We have not yet begun to see the SEC’s Pro Bowl dominance.

P.S. I’ll leave you with one interesting tidbit — Georgia Tech’s triple option offense has produced seven Pro Bowl selections over this time period. The Catch? The two players who make up these seven selections are Demaryius Thomas and Calvin Johnson. Go Figure.

 

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.