If you live outside of the Southeastern United States, you probably get a little tired of hearing about the SEC's being the toughest college football conference in the country.
Too bad. It just got even tougher.
Regardless of how you feel about Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban, and Bobby Petrino, you’ll sound foolish around the water cooler if you write them off as coaching slouches.
Two of those men have national and conference championship rings at home. One was once the hottest coach in the Big East.
All three were accomplished enough to earn NFL paychecks—and though all three failed, they're now locking horns in college football's best conference.
That’s right, America—the SEC's as good as it gets., And don’t expect that to change anytime soon.
Critics may knock these mercenary coaches for lying their way to the next big offer, but don’t expect them to lose any sleep over it. The SEC always has been and always will be about winning—something the majority of the conference's coaches have grown quite accustomed to.
Four different SEC coaches have won national titles in the last 20 years: Spurrier, Saban, Phil Fulmer, and Urban Meyer. No other conference can boast that many different winners.
Throw in Les Miles’ looming BCS Championship Game appearance, Tommy Tuberville’s undefeated season in 2004, and Mark Richt’s championship-heavy resume from Florida State, and you’ve got yourself a cadre of men who've been there and done that.
As it stands, Petrino is jumping into the fray just in time for the home stretch of the recruiting season—in which SEC teams consistently rake in the nation’s top talent.
According to the rankings produced by Rivals.com, SEC teams have compiled 24 Top 10 recruiting classes since 2002. That’s four teams per year.
The Big 12 is the next most successful conference, pulling in 13 Top 10’s over the same span. The Pac-10 (seven Top 10's) and the Big 10 (five) bring up the rear.
But then again who cares about high school kids? It’s how the coaches develop them that matters most, right?
Apparently pro scouts agree with that sentiment, as NFL teams selected 41 SEC players in the 2007 draft, the most of any conference.
Should we discuss stadiums, attendance, boosters, tailgating, and co-eds too—or have you read enough to want to put a plastic pig on your head, bark like a Dawg, and do the Gator chomp with the good guys?
My advice: Don't try to fight it. It’s easier just to give in.
Arkansas, a traditional SEC West middleweight, just landed one of the top playcallers in the country. Auburn, a defensive juggernaut with offensive insecurities, is close to hiring a new coordinator who runs a spread attack.
Florida returns a Heisman-winning sophomore and nine young starters on defense. Georgia brings back nearly its entire team.
Maybe it's time to agree that the SEC really is the top conference in the country—and just be thankful that your team doesn't have to play in it.