All health problems aside, the SEC is now officially Saban Territory. Urban Meyer has been one of the greatest coaches in SEC history, and the greatest coach in Florida Football history, but Saban’s dominance has caused a cultural shift in the conference.
Next year, the Gators play at Alabama, host LSU, play at Tennessee, and throw in games against a should-be improved Georgia and USF teams.
Urban likely examined what Southern California coach Pete Carroll has gone through this year with the loss of his coaching staff and players. Carroll lost his offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian, and several other key coaches. He lost his stud linebackers Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing to the NFL and his quarterback, Mark Sanchez, who now leads the New York Jets, was a crushing blow parallel to Florida losing Tim Tebow to graduation. USC had to endure a 4 loss season and Meyer would likely have to face the same rebuilding the team in 2010.
Urban Meyer would be in a similar situation losing his entire defense, losing defensive coordinator Charlie Strong, and losing his legendary quarterback. Add to the fact Meyer would have to endure a pounding in Tuscaloosa next year at the hands of Mark Ingram and Nick Saban in front of the Alabama faithful. Also, Florida plays in the SEC, not the Pac-10. It doesn’t get any easier.
Saban demolished the returning 2008 UF Championship team minus Percy Harvin in this year’s SEC Championship game, 32-12. Last year, Saban battled Florida and UF made the heroic comeback to pull it out, 31-20, and went on to defeat Oklahoma to capture the BCS Championship. This year, Saban destroyed the Gators with a rookie Quarterback, Greg McElroy, and sophomore running back Mark Ingram, who will be back next year.
Saban was on year two of his program last year, and now he is on year three and the results have shaped the conference. His program is now locking into place and imagine where it will be in year four when he completely has all of his players in rooted in his system. He built the Bama program from the very bottom, where Meyer tookover a team somewhat in place in 2005 and he took them over the top. 22 of the players on the 2006 Florida championship team were recruited by former UF coach Ron Zook. Saban is in year 3 and has now beat the defending champions handily and the Bama program looks to become even stronger.
Saban has 12 recruits from the state of Florida on this year’s team, including star tight-end Colin Peek, who damaged the Gators heavily during the SEC championship game, star defensive back Javier Arenas, and future NFL defensive lineman Terrence Cody. Saban will continue to walk into high schools and homes across the nation and tell them to come to Alabama if you want to win a championship. Lou Holtz has said that Meyer will coach again. But for now, it does not look like he will be back in the SEC anytime soon.
Urban Meyer deserves a round of applause for his accomplishments at the University of Florida, winning 2 BCS Championships and producing the winningest class in SEC history. However, Nick Saban has caused a power shift and has built another powerhouse program for the team which historically has 11 National Championships.
As soon as the Tide shifted, Urban Meyer was out. Saban now officially owns the recruiting in the Southeast, and if he beats Texas, he will own the entire South.
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