Thursday, August 22, 2013

Don't Blame Clemson (or FSU)

Group A and Group B have played competitive games over 150 times in the last 20+ years. Over those 150+ games, Group A wins approximately 60% of the time, followed by the lauding and celebrating of Group A. Meanwhile Group B is mocked for their lack of success.

"To the victor belong the spoils" Senator Marcy (NY)

If Group A were a team, then all members of Group A would celebrate the victory, drink the champagne, and smoke the cigars, for each member of Group A was part of a team, and a team needs each member to succeed. The team trains together, works together, plays together, and ultimately celebrates together.

But what if Group A weren't a team, but a corporation. How would the corporation celebrate a victory? Would they celebrate each of the group members (departments) and reward them all the same? Would each member drink the champagne and smoke the cigars, or would only the members directly responsible for the victory?

What if one member (department), say the denim shorts department, outperformed expectations by 20%, while another department, say the tank top department, underperformed by 20%? Would they both be rewarded? Should they? Should they all get raises just because at the end of the year, the ledger is written using black ink rather than red? Or should the highest achievers be rewarded, while the others be scrutinized?

This is the dilemma the SEC faces, as they are Group A. Each year, one member, or team, outperforms every other team. In fact, that one team outperforms the best departments from other corporations too. And it's not just a fluke or a lucky bounce. It has happened each of the last six years, too.

Conversely, Group B faces the opposite situation. While no one in the group should celebrate their performance, should every member be treated the same? Should we unilaterally knock every member even though some performed better than others? Should everyone be fired, or should we acknowledge those who exceeded expectations and chastise those who failed to meet them?

This is the dilemma the ACC faces. When compared collectively, Group B, or the ACC, falls short of the achievements of Group B, or the SEC, and few will argue this.

But if you move past the large ACC and SEC banners and begin to investigate each member based on individual performance rather than throwing every member into the same pot, a different dish may emerge. One with a different, more bitter flavor.

For instance, of the 150+ games, Clemson, Florida State, and Georgia Tech have accounted for nearly 100 of them, with the other 50+ games split between the other 9 institutions. Furthermore, Clemson and Florida State are a combined 31-34-1 (47.7%), or three games from being even, meaning the other 10 schools are a combined 30-59 (33.7%).

To further show the gap, Clemson and Florida State combine for over half of the ACC's wins against the SEC. Add in Georgia Tech's 11 wins and these three schools combine for over 2/3 of the league's wins.

Conversely, in the SEC, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt have accounted for nearly 70% of the SEC's games against the ACC, with the other 30% split amongst the other 8 schools. Among these four schools, Georgia (25-5) and Vanderbilt (14-8) combine to hold 26 of the SEC's 32 more wins over the ACC. Add in Alabama at +6 and these three schools are a combined +32 over the ACC, or exactly the same as the ACC and SEC overall, meaning the other 9 schools (including past BCS champs Florida, Tennessee, and LSU) are even against the ACC.

So while the ACC can’t compare to the success of the SEC, let’s not treat every member of the ACC the same. Don’t point to Florida State and Clemson as being second rate citizens because of their conference affiliation. Just take a look at their records against the SEC. I have a feeling Arkansas, South Carolina, the Mississippis, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky would love to have the success against their conference mates that Clemson and Florida State have experienced over the past 20+ years, seeing as Clemson and Florida State both have better records against SEC teams than those schools do.

Just imagine if Clemson had the chance to play Arkansas, Vandy, & Kentucky every year the way every other SEC team does...


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