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Posted: Wednesday August 13, 2008 2:20PM; Updated: Wednesday August 13, 2008 4:14PM
Stewart Mandel Stewart Mandel >
COLLEGE FOOTBALL MAILBAG

A true conference showdown, preseason injuries and more (cont.)

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Ryan Perrilloux
Does Ryan Perrilloux really make Jacksonville State the team to beat in the FCS?
AP
Stewart Mandel's Mailbag
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Your CPI article was very insightful, but failed to do the final analysis (probably because it would contradict the point of the article). Combine your stats for both five-year periods and the SEC comes out 20 percent higher than the next-closest conference. I agree conference power is cyclical, but I think your analysis uses too short of a time period. I think you'll find a more noticeable (and real) power shift if you use decades as the comparison.
-- Dave Young, Athens, Ga.

I think what you're trying to ascertain is the answer to the greater question of, "Which is the greatest conference of all time?" That may well be the SEC, but it would be almost impossible to quantify it mathematically. First of all, every single league's membership has changed throughout history. Meanwhile, among the specific categories we examined, there used to be far fewer bowl games, and it was far more arbitrary which teams played in them. (For example, prior to the mid-'70s, no Big Ten team could play in consecutive Rose Bowls, nor were they eligible to play in any other bowl.) And strength-of-schedule data from earlier eras simply does not exist.

Our study focused on the specific 10-year period that it did because it coincided with the advent of the BCS, which not only formalized the postseason but really, for the first time in history, placed tangible importance on the idea of conference strength. As we've seen the past two seasons, the SEC's strong reputation has had a direct influence on the selection of a national-championship participant (both Florida in 2006 and LSU in '07 usurped teams ahead of them in the previous poll).

The CPI data from the past five years affirmed the SEC's current superiority, but I think it's important that we all understand the article's greater point that any the state of the SEC or any other league is subject to change from one year to the next. Therefore, in an ideal world, teams should not be rewarded or penalized based on the perceived strength of their conference over any longer period of time.

Stewart, about the conference rankings article: I have only one problem with the SEC, they rarely have a game outside of the Southeast. At least other conferences will leave their region to play, like Ohio State going to Texas or Washington or USC.
-- Joe Greene, Rutherford, N.J.

That's a common sentiment whenever this topic is addressed, but that's also why we used the RPI formula rather than straight non-conference record in assessing each league's out-of-conference competition. The RPI formula takes into account both strength-of-opponents and whether the game was home or away. With that in mind, it was not surprising to see the Pac-10 place first in this category in both eras. Their schools constantly go on the road to face other major-conference schools (often out of necessity). The SEC, by contrast, finished second (in 2003-'07) and fourth (1998-'02).

Jordana looked good in the My Boys season finale, didn't she? As her former Celebrity Crusher, where do you think it goes next season?
-- Alan, San Francisco

You got that right, sir. This most recent season (which seemed like it was over almost as soon as it started) veered almost completely away from sports, focusing instead on wedding planning. While this unfortunately made the show far less enjoyable to most people with Y chromosomes, it did provide the added bonus of Jordana's character, P.J., largely abandoning her tomboy persona. In the last episode in particular, with P.J. donned in her rehearsal-dinner gown, I did a little double take before thinking to myself, "Yep -- that was my Dodgers date."

However, I can't say I gave a whole lot of thought to how the show's wedding cliff-hanger will resolve itself. After all, we've got a new season to get ready for -- Always Sunny. The question we should be asking ourselves is, what raunchy, absurdly inappropriate situation will Kaitlin find herself in come Sept. 18? Hopefully this one won't involve a toothless, Korean busboy.

Jacksonville State managed to win the equivalent of the Football Championship Subdivision lottery by landing Ryan Perrilloux, the SEC Championship MVP. Now the OVC has picked Jacksonville State, which went 6-5 last year, to win the conference title, and I've heard more than a few people say they expect the Gamecocks to beat Georgia Tech in the season-opener. Can Perrilloux's presence really make that much of a difference? Does Perrilloux need to be fantastically successful to be relevant on NFL Draft day?
-- Josh, London, Ky.

Have you watched Appalachian State's Armanti Edwards? An elite, athletic quarterback like Perrilloux can absolutely make that kind of difference. He certainly won't be able to do it alone, and I don't attest to any knowledge about his surrounding cast at Jacksonville State, but if the nucleus was already in place to have a successful season, there's no question Perrilloux could put them over the top. He's already proven he can play at the highest level of college football (though he hasn't proven he can stay out of trouble long enough to last an entire season), so it would stand to reason he will dominate the next level down.

Meanwhile, the Georgia Tech upset prediction makes perfect sense considering the radical overhaul the Yellow Jackets are going through on offense. It's highly unlikely they'll have Paul Johnson's triple-option down pat by opening day (though their defense is more than capable of shutting down an FBS offense, Perrilloux-led or not). As for the NFL question, believe me, the scouts are already well aware of Perrilloux and they're not going to forget about him now that he's playing in the relative obscurity of the OVC. Remember, Delaware's Joe Flacco, another FBS transfer quarterback (from Pittsburgh), was a first-round selection this past spring.

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