The Secret Formula to Ending the SEC's Dominance in College Football
The run of six straight titles by the SEC has "SEC fatigue" at an all-time high.
"S-E-C" chants have reached a level of annoyance around the country comparable to that of the Yankee/Red Sox infatuation that dominates headlines during baseball season.
The conference's dominance peaked on Jan. 9, 2012, when Alabama and LSU met in the first BCS National Championship Game that featured participants from the same conference.
In my 12 years of covering SEC football, I've never seen the conference be so dominant, and it's not just "Alabama, LSU and everybody else."
Georgia, South Carolina and Florida all are in serious national title contention, and you could make the argument that Arkansas was the nation's third-best team last season behind Alabama and LSU.
Is there some secret formula for one team from around the country to unseat the SEC?
Yes, but it will take some time, the right pieces and a little bit of luck.
First of all, you need a big, physical and fast defensive front seven.
It's no coincidence that the teams that have hoisted the crystal football each of the last six seasons have great defensive lines that know how to work together.
A front seven similar to the one that Jimbo Fisher has amassed at Florida State would suffice. Bjoern Werner and Co. run about eight deep along the defensive line. That group is tied for the ACC lead with 13 sacks on the season and currently boasts the nation's second-best defense, averaging just 184 yards allowed per game.
It's a big, physical front seven that brings pressure from different areas and keeps opposing offensive coordinators on their toes at all time.
The next thing any team needs to unseat the SEC is a balanced offensive attack that features dynamic skill players. Yes, we're looking at you, USC.
Quarterback Matt Barkley gets all of the hype, and Robert Woods and Marqise Lee form the top wide receiver duo in the country. Add in running backs Silas Redd and Curtis McNeal, and you have an offense that, in theory, should be as balanced as any in the country.
You can't be one-dimensional in the SEC and survive, and the ability to keep defenses honest with skill players that can do a variety of things is imperative.
You also need a savvy athletic director who's willing to do whatever it takes to win at the highest level.
Football is the cash cow, and to make money, you have to spend money.
When will the SEC's streak of BCS National Championships end?
According to USA Today, eight of the top 14 highest-paid coaches in terms of average pay per season were employed by SEC schools (Nick Saban, Les Miles, Bobby Petrino, Gene Chizik, Will Muschamp, Mark Richt, Steve Spurrier and Houston Nutt) between 2006 and 2011. During that same time period, the SEC boasted nine of the top 14 schools in terms of average assistant coach salaries per season.
To play with the best you have to hire the best leaders, and the SEC, top to bottom, has shown the ability to hire and retain the top coaching talent in the country.
The SEC is going to get the benefit of the doubt in most situations when it comes to the BCS. Perception is reality in college football, and if an SEC team is in the discussion, more times than not, it's going to win that discussion.
That's why the schedule also plays an important role for any contender outside the conference.
Each of the last six SEC champions and 2011 BCS champion Alabama have played at least one BCS Automatic Qualifier (AQ) team from outside the SEC, and LSU in 2011 and Florida in 2008 played two, much to the chagrin of the anti-SEC crowd who assumes that the SEC just schedules cupcakes.
Those games are important for teams that want to test their ability against programs and systems that are outside of their normal comfort zone.
Scheduling theories vary from conference to conference, but at least one quality out-of-conference opponent goes a long way towards building confidence in a team.
The SEC is playing at a level unlike anything we've seen in recent memory, and it's going to take SEC-style talent, recruiting, dedication and confidence for any contender to break the streak.
There are a few of those that exist this season, Florida State being one.
But there's always luck involved with any team that makes a title run, and all of those chips haven't fallen yet.
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