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Meanwhile Back At The Lyceum...

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Socrates: What is it Scipio? Your brow is troubled.

Scipio: It is so, master.

Socrates: What grieves you?

Scipio: I must attack the Gods of Irrationality and Spin.

Socrates: Oh, must you now? That has long been my cause.

Scipio: I know this. I am pained because I hold much love for the institutions I question.

Socrates: Truth is everything. Have courage.

Scipio: I'll say it plainly then as you are their mouthpiece: it troubles me that you now tell lies. You babble conventional wisdom.

Socrates: Liar am I? My wisdoms have never been conventional. The only babblings the utterances from you gaping maw.

Scipio: It pains me to say it, when I look beneath the rhetoric.

Socrates: You have never bested me. However, I will allow you to lead me through a dialogue to reveal your folly. It will be good sport. Begin.

Scipio: You claim that Texas has an easier road to the MNC now. This is reason that we must not lament a unappealing schedule.

Socrates: It is so.

Scipio: The evidence of this is that a challenging conference routinely thwarts the ambitions of its best teams?

Socrates: This is a clear Truth. How could this puzzle you, weak student as you are?

Scipio: Is the SEC not the best conference in all of the land?

Socrates: In football, jorts, and regressive social mores, truly.

Scipio: Is the Pac 10 not weak?

Socrates: As your wit and their women's chastity. I grow weary. You will next ask me if the sun is not a fiery orb pulled by Apollo's chariot.

Scipio: Thus a great team that plays in the SEC will have its ambitions thwarted?

Socrates: Often.

Scipio: And a great team that plays in a weaker league will have them realized?

Socrates: It is so. I weep for your stupidity.

Scipio: I am stupid. So stupid I must rely on facts rather than inference.

Socrates: I have been affirming the facts of the world for five minutes now. When will your light shine, dim as it is.

Scipio: You have affirmed only perception, master. The ill-fitting wardrobe that the observer places on realities best seen naked.

Socrates: I will humor you before delivering a sharp-tongued rebuke. Go on.

Scipio: Then facts must bare, for they will bear out, master. Four of the last five national champions are from the SEC. 2006 Florida. 2007 LSU. 2008 Florida. 2009 Alabama. Would Socrates say that their ambitions were thwarted?

Socrates: Hmmm. These were great teams. Invincible!

Scipio: Not so. The four had four losses between them. 13-1 Florida, 12-2 LSU, 13-1 Florida, 14-0 Alabama. Only one an undefeated team. And perhaps a lucky one, at that.

Socrates: Then they lost to other invincible teams, demonstrating the SEC's might.

Scipio: They lost to Kentucky, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Auburn. They are mighty, Socrates?

Socrates: Hmm. You have my attention.

Scipio: Now, the Pac 10. USC has had four Top 4 finishes in the last five years. Three years of conference upsets in the Pac 10, a title game loss to an epic Texas team QBed by a black Titan. Is this not so?

Socrates: It is so.

Scipio: If a difficult league thwarts ambitions, and an easy league enables them, how does one square these facts, master?

Socrates: I am amused. Yes, yes. Go on.

Scipio: Probability theory, for one. Which hasn't been invented yet. So I hold you innocent. Any team playing a slate of reasonable opponents, good or average, should, on average, drop a game.

Socrates: Is this so? You intrigue, Socrates. Speak more of this wizardry.

Scipio: It is thus crucial to have a conference perceived to be so powerful that the consequence of a mathematical reality is excused by humans who do not understand it. The power of your conference actually propels you into a national title game, not from it. And the rigorous schedule prepares you best for that big stage. You have endorsed falsehoods, Great Teacher.

Socrates: I am pleased. After three decades of my instruction, you have cleaved perception from reality where I have not. May I lead the dialogue now?

Scipio: I would be honored.

Socrates: The same investment of belief in a powerful conference is also found in individual teams, is it not?

Scipio: Truly.

Socrates: That is, a team would benefit from its perception, whether its quality is actually great or not. It's schedule weak or not.

Scipio: It is so.

Socrates: Is Texas one of these schools?

Scipio: Indeed. We will always receive the benefit of the doubt.

Socrates: So Texas will always receive the benefit of the doubt for its historical power and prestige, as a great conference would?

Scipio: Yes...oh no. I see where this is going.

Socrates: And what of 2008?

Scipio: But We're Texas!

Socrates: Yes, how quaint. How did that serve you? We all have our blind spots, do we not, student?

Scipio: My hubris was short-lived.

Socrates: No, be proud. We have sussed out truths today.

Scipio: How will this knowledge be received?

Socrates: We will be murdered for defying the Gods of Conventional Wisdom.

Scipio: Bummer.

Socrates: Yes, totally.

Scipio: Do you want to road trip to Ames with me?

Socrates: I'd rather my favorite catamite be used by a Spartan.