The battle for conference supremacy in college football isn't just fought on the field. It is fought on the internet, on talk radio and in print, anywhere where media and fans can debate which league is best.
For years, the consensus is that the SEC rules the roost. But recently, other conferences have been trying to stake their claim as top dog, including the ACC and Big Ten.
Noted college football expert Phil Steele addressed his pick for the best conference during a radio appearance on 93.7 TheTicketFM in Lincoln, Neb. Steele said the Big Ten was best in 2017, but how about this year?
He has the Big Ten and SEC in a dead heat.
“I think talent-wise there’s not much of a difference,” Steele said during Monday's appearance on 93.7 FM. “You look at Alabama and Georgia last year. Georgia, this year for example, they only have three returning starters on defense. They go from No. 13 in my experience chart to No. 80, so there are some flaws there. The big boys of the Big Ten can hang there. And here’s something — I think in the last 11 years, the SEC has been No. 1 nine times,. But my No. 1 toughest conference in college football last year was the Big Ten.
"I know they didn’t make the playoffs, but when you look at the overall depth of the conference and the outstanding bowl record, the amount of potential Top 10 potential teams ... the Big Ten was the toughest conference. And this year, I have them tied with the SEC for No. 1 coming into the season."
Expect this debate to extend throughout the preseason into the regular season. The Big Ten was 7-1 in bowl games last year, while the SEC was just 5-6, but the SEC had both the national champion and national runner-up.
The SEC has the best coach in the country in Alabama's Nick Saban, as well as Georgia's Kirby Smart, Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher, Florida's Dan Mullen and Auburn's Gus Malzahn. But is that stronger than the Big Ten's contingent of Urban Meyer (Ohio State), Mark Dantonio (Michigan State), James Franklin (Penn State), Jim Harbaugh (Michigan), Scott Frost (Nebraska) and Paul Chryst (Wisconsin)? We'll have to see.
Debates like these are part of what makes college football such an awesome sport year-in and year-out.