When Steve Spurrier talks, we listen. South Carolina's head coach has a bit of reputation as a straight-shooter when it comes to talking to the media, especially compared to some of his conference compatriots, and he did not disappoint Sunday.
The big five conferences all playing each other, I don't think that makes a lot of sense, really. Playing East Carolina is a lot tougher game than maybe picking up one of those bottom Big Ten teams, and a lot of fans around here would rather see a team that's close by.
There's the Ol' Ball Coach, throwing shade at the Big Ten, as he does. (It should be noted ECU will be South Carolina's first out-of-conference opponent this season.) He's also speaking out against a scheduling plan put forward by Nick Saban that would have power-conference schools only play other power-conference schools. It's easy to laugh this off and say, "there goes Spurrier again," but is he wrong?
Meet the Pirates
Meet the Pirates
East Carolina ranked 40th last season in Football Outsider's F/+. That would rank seventh among all Big Ten teams, just barely behind Nebraska (and ahead of a 10-win Duke squad). Notably behind the Pirates among Big Ten schools? Minnesota, Indiana, Northwestern and Penn State, among others.
Sagarin's final ranking has East Carolina at 56th, a little less forgiving to the Pirates. That would rank eighth in the Big Ten, trailing the same group of teams as they did in F/+ with the addition of Penn State.
The Big Ten's easy to take shots at -- Purdue and Illinois weren't exactly world-beaters last season -- but what about Spurrier's own SEC? East Carolina would have ranked 10th in the conference in F/+, ahead of Florida, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Arkansas. Sagarin is much friendlier to Vanderbilt and Florida, as the Pirates only rank ahead of the Volunteers and Razorbacks in that metric.
So, Coach Spurrier: you're right. But it's not just the Big Ten teams that trail the Pirates in the statistical rankings -- East Carolina's just a pretty dang good football team.