Since the SEC has taken over college football over the past decade, the term “SEC speed” has been uttered by pundits and fans alike, but what is it?
I have grown up in the heart of Big Ten country and lived amongst Pac-12 supporters, I have frequented several online college football communities over the years, and I have seen it discussed across a number of media outlets. Most are misguided in what they think SEC speed truly is.
Entering the 2006 BCS National Championship game, I heard the cries of a multitude of angry Buckeye fans: “SEC speed? Ohio State has just as much speed as they do. Troy Smith, Ted Ginn...” and so the rambling went on.
And this is where fans made their mistake. Did The Ohio State University have fast players? Absolutely.
At the skill positions.
With the reduction of scholarships and rise of parity in college football, most teams do. Of course, Ohio State, Alabama, USC and other universities will have more depth, but just in the sense of speed at the skill positions, most teams have a couple fast players.
What they lack, and what SEC Speed is, is athleticism in the trenches.
"SEC speed" is misleading, but "SEC linemen athleticism" does not have the same ring to it. That is where the difference lies and what it truly is.
Rewind back to that 2006 BCS title game, and every subsequent championship game until 2012's, and tell me what the difference was between those non-SEC schools and those from the Southeastern Conference.
It was freak athleticism among the linemen—both offensive and defensive.
When the 2011 season opened, everyone looked to Oregon and LSU to set the tone. Oregon has the speed, faster than SEC speed, but they were manhandled. Where? At the line.
That is where the SEC wins the battles and the games. The SEC beats every other conference in that department, and has done so over the past six years. Take a gander back at the other BCS champions, and you will see that those who dominate the line win titles.
This “SEC speed” we talk about today is similar to what Florida State, Miami and Southern California have shown us in the past. In years past, it was they who sent top-flight linemen to the league.
They had the so-called “SEC speed,” but they weren't doing it as an entire conference. That is what makes the SEC so special: From top to bottom, the schools have these kinds of athletes battling it out every week when the center snaps the ball.
As we look forward, we see other teams changing their recruiting. Urban Meyer is already beginning to alter the Buckeye's philosophy on the line and, Lane Kiffin, battling with his restrictions, is still looking to grab this caliber of athlete. 2012 sees Florida State bring a talented squad like they were accustomed to bringing in the 90s. The Seminoles have a feared defensive front and a young, athletic offensive line ready to prove itself.
It is no coincidence that the three teams listed above each have a former SEC coach at the helm. They understand what it will take to compete in January. They understand what SEC speed truly is.
SEC Speed is a misnomer. The Southeastern Conference wins in the trenches with athletes that incorporate quickness off the ball, speed and raw power.
It has nothing to do with the skill positions and everything to do with winning in the trenches.