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Conference Bowl Records During The BCS Era

gfx - by the numbersConferences have expanded, contracted, and fluctuated.  Schools have moved, threatened to move, and bluffed moves.  Spread offenses have taken over football.  Up-tempo, hurry-up systems have become the rage.  Instant replay has grown in importance.

Over the 16-year life of the Bowl Championship Series, the college football landscape has changed dramatically.  But through all the flux and turbulence, there has been one constant — the Southeastern Conference.  Last night the league saw its seven-year stranglehold on the national championship broken.  It’s no a coincidence that the team snapping the league’s streak — in the final 13 seconds of the game — was Florida State.  FSU is coached by an ex-SEC coordinator.  FSU is a defense-first team, much like the SEC teams of the past decade-and-a-half.  And FSU recruits from the same talent pool as the SEC.  Hell, Florida State should be an SEC school, as we’ve argued on many occasions.

But even though a school from the ACC ended the SEC’s unprecedented run, Mike Slive’s league has dominated the bowl scene since the BCS dawned in 1998.  The league has received more bids, rolled up more wins, and beaten more high-end competition in bowls than any other league.  (Sorry, old Big East, but playing MWC and C-USA teams at every turn doesn’t equate to playing bowl foes hailing mainly from BCS leagues, as the SEC has done.)

SEC teams won nine of the 16 BCS crystal footballs handed out.  Five different schools claimed them — Tennessee in 1998, LSU in 2003 and 2007, Florida in 2006 and 2008, Alabama in 2009, 2011 and 2012, and Auburn in 2010.  The SEC’s only BCS title game losses came at the hands of another SEC team (LSU losing to Alabama in 2011) and to a team built in the SEC mold (FSU last night).

Knowing that track record, doesn’t it seem even more ridiculous that Auburn’s unbeaten 2004 squad was left out of the title game in favor of eventual winner Southern Cal, a team since nixed from the winners list due to NCAA sanctions?

And the SEC isn’t like the Big Ten (Ohio State) or the Pac-12 (Oregon, Southern Cal) or Big 12 (Oklahoma, Texas) where one or two teams have dominated season after season.  The SEC’s power shifts from year to year.  Not since Tennessee’s ’98 national champs has an SEC squad even won back-to-back league titles.  No other conference comes close to matching that history of parity.

So as we say goodbye to the BCS — which has been awfully good to the SEC — we wanted to take one final look back at what each conference has accomplished over the past 16 years at bowl time.  Here are the overall bowl records for those leagues still alive (though altered) and those now deceased.  We’ll have some additional points and tables below:


  Conference   Total Bowl Bids   All Bowls ’98-’13   Winning %   BCS Bowls ’98-’13   All Bowls 2013   BCS Bowls 2013
  Big West   2   2-0   100.0%   0-0   0-0   0-0
  Big East   75   46-29   61.3%   8-7   0-0   0-0
  SEC   133   80-53   60.1%   17-10   7-3   0-2
  MWC   62   35-27   56.4%   3-1   3-3   0-0
  Pac-12   95   47-48   49.4%   13-8   6-3   0-1
  Sun Belt   25   12-13   48.0%   0-0   2-0   0-0
  Big 12   126   60-66   47.6%   10-12   3-3   1-1
  ACC   115   54-61   46.9%   5-13   5-6   2-0
  C-USA   80   36-44   45.0%   0-0   3-3   0-0
  WAC   51   23-28   45.0%   0-0   0-0   0-0
  Big Ten   113   49-64   43.3%   13-15   2-5   1-1
  AAC   5   2-3   40.0%   1-0   2-3   1-0
  MAC   54   21-33   38.8%   0-1   0-5   0-0


Just looking at that list, a few things stand out:


*  The SEC had seven more bowl invitations than any other conference, but it had 20 more wins than any other league.

*  Two defunct leagues bested the SEC’s overall bowl winning percentage, but a quick check of the bowl tie-ins over the years shows that while SEC teams were often playing teams from other BCS leagues (or champions from non-BCS conferences), the Big West and the Big East feasted on opponents from non-BCS leagues.

*  Nine of the 13 conferences sending teams to bowl during the BCS era had overall winning percentages between 38.8% and 49.4%.  Again, the Big West, Big East and MWC don’t face the same level of bowl competition as the SEC… which won a remarkable 60.1% of its games during the BCS era.

*  The Big Ten went 2-5 in bowls for the second year in a row.  The MAC went 0-5 this bowl season.  Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has spoken openly about population shifts and his league’s need to find an antidote to Rust Bowl flight.  The bowl records of the two biggest upper-Midwest conferences suggest he’s right.  The three biggest Southern conferences boast the most bowl bids (SEC, Big 12 and ACC) over the past 16 years.  The talent is in the South.  The recent struggles of the Big Ten are due in large part to simple demographic shifts in our country.  Delany (and his MAC counterpart) will have a hard time working around all the departures from the Midwest.

*  Only one of the five remaining BCS conferences had a winning bowl mark from 1998 through 2013 — the SEC.


And now for a look at the BCS champions and their home conference over the entire lifespan of the Bowl Championship Series:


  Seasons   BCS Champion   Conference
  1998   Tennessee   SEC
  1999   Florida State   ACC
  2000   Oklahoma   Big 12
  2001   Miami, FL   Big East
  2002   Ohio State   Big Ten
  2003   LSU   SEC
  2004   Souther Cal (vacated)   Pac-12
  2005   Texas   Big 12
  2006   Florida   SEC
  2007   LSU   SEC
  2008   Florida   SEC
  2009   Alabama   SEC
  2010   Auburn   SEC
  2011   Alabama   SEC
  2012   Alabama   SEC
  2013   Florida State   ACC





The Big West is 3-0 to begin with.  Idaho in 98 over Southern Miss, Boise State in 99 and 00 over Louisville and UTEP respectively.

The WAC was 23-29.  I won't list all 29 losses.

The Big 12 was 61-60, by year:

98 3-4

99 3-3

00 4-3

01 3-5

02 5-3

03 2-6

04 4-3

05 5-3

06 3-5

07 5-3

08 4-3

09 4-4

10 3-5

11 6-2

12 4-5

13 3-3


Seriously, you're numbers are wrong.  I'll help you if you like, but deleting my message won't correct it.


Is the SEC a tough conference? Well, just this year Mizzou is ranked #5 in the AP Poll in the entire country. #5. Yet, it is only the 3rd highest ranked SEC school. Sheesh.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator


The numbers have been double-checked but if you'd like to tell me what's incorrect, have at it.  It's certainly possible that I've typed something in wrong.  There's a reason no one else on the planet has tried to go back through 16 years of bowls to match moving teams to their conferences and tally up the records.



@John at MrSEC @JeffreyBovee  I will help you out with some teams & conferences I am familiar with (Boise State / Hawaii)  (Big West / WAC). In 1996 Boise State joined DIV I football  and the Big West conf.  In 2001 BSU joined Hawaii in the WAC. BSU has played in and won two Fiesta Bowls "06" vs. Okla. and "09" vs. TCU. Hawaii lost the "06 Sugar Bowl vs. Georgia. The above "BCS Bowls 98-13" would be correct in showing the WAC at 2-1.


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