Rick Neuheisel, who was jettisoned as UCLA’s football coach after four straight putrid seasons (21-29), is now an analyst at the Pac-12 network. Last week, he was rambling a bit – as he is wont to do – about the state of college football when he tossed this out there:
“You wonder how the SEC became so powerful? It’s a direct correlation to how ESPN has been talking them up over the years, because they have a financial interest in them. So all the sudden, it’s a monster conference.”
For the record, ESPN is invested in the Pac-12, having signed a rights deal in partnership with Fox Sports that covers 12 years and $3 billion for the conference. Neuheisel still isn’t convinced that’s enough to make a network like ESPN change its focus.
“I think they just want to be competitive in all the time zones, but we’re still not given the same amount of attention as the SEC or the Big Ten. Watch `(College) Game Day,’ and the Pac-12 will get one block, and it’s usually just about USC or Oregon.”
Yeah, Rick, the SEC became powerful simply because ESPN has been hyping the conference for years. SEC strength has absolutely nothing to do with six straight BCS titles, or the fact that the SEC – by far – produced the most NFL players from 1992-2011. According to NFL.com, in that time span, the SEC had 576 players drafted, which is more than the Pac 12 (250) and Big 12 (224) combined. [Ed. That NFL.com piece only looked at the 25 winningest programs, and not all draft picks from each league. The SEC does not have as many draft picks as both combined considering all programs.] Obviously ESPN has a financial interest in the SEC, but only a doofus would overlook the fact that the conference has been, by far, the best in the country. [LA Daily News]