One of the problems with studies like this is it ignores when the penalties occurred and what kind of penalties occurred. A flag at the right/wrong time and for the right/wrong distance can change a game. Those are the kind of issues that fans notice and fuss about.
Earlier today we looked at which SEC stadiums provided the biggest advantage penalty-wise to their occupants. You can read the full breakdown here, but here’s a hint: cowbells.
Since we found no real conspiracies in that number-crunching session, we thought we’d now look at each SEC squads penalty numbers at home and on the road. Below you’ll find each SEC program’s penalty numbers at home from 2008 through 2012. You’ll also see each program’s road penalty numbers over the period. Finally, we’ll compare the two numbers.
First, let’s start with the home numbers, from best to worst:
|School||Home Games||Total Penalties||Avg. Penalties / Home Game|
Now, a look at the number of penalties totaled by each squad in road (or neutral site) games from 2008 through 2012, from best to worst:
|School||Road Games||Total Penalties||Avg. Penalties / Road Game|
As was the case with home games, Alabama, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Mississippi State all fair rather well when it comes to road penalties. And once again, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida and Texas A&M reside at the bottom of the list picking up more than seven flags per road contest.
But which teams see the biggest difference in flags between their home games and their contests away from home?
Below is a comparison:
|School||Avg. Penalties / Home Game||Avg. Penalties / Road Game||Difference|
|Ole Miss||4.74||6.50||+ 1.76|
|Texas A&M||6.61||7.76||+ 1.15|
|Miss. State||4.96||5.66||+ 0.70|
|S. Carolina||5.37||6.00||+ 0.63|
Once again, it’s hard to pin down anything that would lead someone to believe in conspiracy theories. No SEC school over the last five seasons has had a better homefield advantage in terms of its own penalties than… Ole Miss. Not Alabama or LSU or Florida. Ole Miss.
The Rebels are flagged almost twice more per game on the road than they are in the comforts of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Texas A&M is also a full flag-per-game better at home than on the road. Georgia and Arkansas are almost a full flag-per game better.
Four schools have actually been penalized more at home — on average — over the past five years than they have been at home: Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Alabama and Missouri.
All that said, there’s no way to convince some fans that their team isn’t the target of nefarious officials and villainous conference administrators. And if people want to find hidden patterns that somehow prove a conspiracy against their favorite squad then you’d better believe they will find them.
But in two examinations covering five seasons worth of data, we’ve not spotted anything to suggest the SEC’s officials are aiding — or targeting — specific teams with any regularity.