There seems to be some football fans who are confused between the terms, “team” and “conference.”
First of all, a football conference is a group of teams usually located in relatively close proximity to each other. A conference is simply a name of a group of teams. It is not a separate area of the United States, is not a “country” and is not physically defined by boundaries.
It does not have a marching band, cheerleaders, stadium or booster club. It also doesn’t have a graduating class, academic institution, library, faculty or coach. It is an entity that oversees a group of teams, distributes revenues, represents teams in marketing decisions and all NCAA matters. It has never played a game, nor will it ever will.
The conference’s members have changed over the years, so it is not a permanent entity, thus comparing stats of conferences over a a long period of time can be frustrating and debatable. See Southwest, ACC, Big East, Pac-10, SEC, Big 12 and Big Ten conferences’ history for further explanation.
Now that everybody knows what a conference is, some myths need to be cleared up.
1. Conferences win national championships.
Since a conference is a group of teams, and only one team (in theory) can be a national champion, a conference cannot win a championship in the current system of play we have. To understand this point, look at current undisputed champion LSU.
While LSU is the champ, the SEC conference is not a national champion, and thus, does not “have” a national championship. Since the SEC is a name for a group of teams, proclaiming “The SEC has four championships” is demeaning to LSU. Mississippi State didn’t earn the championship, neither did Vanderbilt. Nobody but LSU earned it.
To further make the point, Arkansas and South Carolina didn’t join the SEC until 1991. If all of the national championships are counted as conference championships, then why does Arkansas benefit from “having a championship” when they weren’t even a member? Same with Arizona State and Arizona in 1978.
Furthermore, please look closely at the picture below. The engraving says, “2007 National Champions LSU Tigers”, not “2007 National Champions SEC.”