Whenever Washington State coach Mike Leach stands in front of a microphone, normally whatever comes out of his mouth is pure gold or it’s a soundbite worthy of a good chuckle.
Leach was asked about nonconference scheduling at Pac-12 Media Days on Thursday and if it was fair that the SEC plays four nonconference games — three to begin the season, one toward the tail end also known as the Cupcake Wars.
So doing basic math, SEC programs only play eight games within the conference while other Power 5 conferences are in the thick of their conference schedules. While it seems unfair that while Alabama plays Mercer the same week that USC plays crosstown rival UCLA for potentially the Pac-12 South title, Leach told Yahoo Sports that the Pac-12 could take some notes from the heavily popular SEC.
“I think it’s very smart by the SEC, and I think it’s a lesson we can learn from the SEC. I think there is a lot of kind of figurative muscle flexing that goes on with regard to how many conference games and who plays who and who they play nonconference,” Leach said. “All this chest-beating … is quite overrated.”
Maybe Leach has a point. Since 2000, the SEC has accumulated nine national championships while the Pac-12 has produced two. Sometimes, that week against an FCS or a lower-division FBS school can give a school that extra win to not only win the conference but also get in a better bowl game. Because while Alabama is running up the scoreboard on Mercer, LSU visits Tennessee the same week, which could determine the SEC.
“I think it’s important to win your conference. As a result of that, I think the SEC laughs all the way to the bank. And I think other conferences would laugh a little louder if we learned some of those things,” Leach said.
For as successful as the SEC has been and although the Pac-12 only plays nonconference games primarily through the first three games with the exception of Stanford and USC, which play Notre Dame midseason, Leach admires what the SEC has done. If it produces national championships consistently, why hate on it?