What Each College Football Conference Can Learn from the SEC
Whether you love or hate the SEC, you simply can't deny the conference's track record over the past several years. The SEC has won the last six national championships, has four of the Top 10 teams in the latest BCS rankings and has really set the bar for the rest of college football.
While it seems like the SEC is perfect, every other conference seems to be missing something special. The Big East is still trying to recover from college football realignment and teams leaving, while the ACC and Big Ten are experiencing serious disappointment in 2012. Even for conferences such as the Pac-12 and Big 12, who may be on the rise, something appears to be preventing them from taking that next step.
Class is in session.
Here is one thing that every BCS conference can learn from the SEC.
ACC: Recruit Better and You Will Succeed
If you haven't figured it out by now, the SEC has absolutely no problem in the recruiting department, as teams such as Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Florida and others are always in the running for the nation’s top recruits.
This, of course, makes winning much easier and actually gives your program a fighting chance to compete for national championships.
The problem is that the only ACC team that consistently recruits well is Florida State, according to Scout.com, while others have up-and-down seasons or struggle to attract top recruits altogether. However, with the improved play of Clemson recently, the Tigers actually have the top class in the conference for 2013, according to Scout.com.
With many of the teams in this conference sharing recruiting grounds with SEC teams, you would think the overall classes would be better than they have been in the past few years. There is no coincidence that Florida State, the program that recruits the best in this conference, has had the most success recently in the ACC.
Recruit well and the overall performance of this conference will improve.
Big 12: Defense Actually Does Win Championships
It's no secret that SEC programs put the majority of their focus on the defensive side of the ball. Four of the top 10 teams in total defense after eight weeks of the season are squads that play their football in this conference.
It has been said time and time again that offense sells tickets and defense wins championships. With six straight national championships for the SEC, it is really hard to argue with that statement. Alabama won the national championship last season and is currently the No. 1 team in the country, and the last two years it has had the top defense in college football.
While seven of the 10 teams in the Big 12 are averaging over 40 points per contest, nine are allowing over 300 total yards a game. High-scoring offenses and 60-point games are fun for television and cute to watch, but they are not part of the formula if you are a program that is trying to hold that crystal ball at the end of the season.
Show some type of heart on the defensive side of the ball, and then we can talk.
Big East: Improve Your Overall Conference to Earn Respect
We could give all of the advice in the world to the Big East, but it is not going to matter until it undergoes a facelift and earns some respect.
West Virginia left for the Big 12, while Syracuse and Pittsburgh are soon leaving for the ACC. A basketball conference has become, well, a basketball conference that happens to play football as well.
Teams such as Rutgers and Louisville are currently undefeated, but there hasn't been a word said nationally about either program, as both teams are beating squads that are more concerned with filling out those March Madness brackets later next year.
The good news is that teams such as Boise State, UCF, SMU and Memphis will soon become members of the Big East and hopefully add some type of competitiveness and excitement to what is left. It is going to be an interesting turnaround for this conference, but just getting back on its feet is priority No. 1 for the Big East.
Big Ten: Consistency Is the Key to Success
A conference is really only as good as the top teams that represent it. In the SEC, we know the top teams are squads such as Alabama, LSU, Florida and Georgia. Those are the programs that are going to consistently be in the national championship picture and are nearly a lock for double-digit victories most seasons.
Who are the marquee teams in the Big Ten?
Well, we thought it was going to be Michigan, but the Wolverines have looked shaky all season long. The same goes for Michigan State, which is currently sitting outside of every poll with a 4-4 record. Ohio State looks like the best team in the conference but is banned from postseason play in 2012. Wisconsin has had an up-and-down season as well.
The Big Ten conference has been nothing but a big mess this season, and some consistency would certainly help turn things around. Programs such as Michigan and Ohio State must produce year in and year out to improve the overall image of this conference moving forward.
Pac-12: Dominant Offensive Lines Certainly Couldn't Hurt
The Pac-12 scores oodles of points, and teams like Oregon and USC have improved their defense over the years. The problem with this conference is that the offensive lines aren't up to par and allow their quarterbacks to take brutal hits throughout the game.
Although we are just eight weeks into the regular season, five teams in the Pac-12 have allowed at least 21 sacks. Cal and Colorado have allowed a combined 64 sacks in just 15 games. You really can't expect to win football games when your quarterback is constantly having to deal with pressure and has no time to throw the football.
Meanwhile, the four Pac-12 teams that are ranked in the BCS rankings (Oregon, USC, Oregon State and Stanford) are all at the top of the conference with the fewest sacks allowed.
The SEC receives a lot of credit for power running games and dominant defense, but a solid and reliable offensive line goes a long way towards a team’s success. If you can't protect the quarterback, you are heading in the wrong direction and will likely experience a long and painful season.