Sorry, SEC: Your "Speed" Doesn't Impress Me Much
So I've been going all season long hearing the phrase "SEC Speed."
The phrase is like an overplayed song on the radio: No one really cares to hear it anymore, except for the fans of the song, but the radio DJ keeps on playing it.
Ever since Ohio State lost to Florida last season, it's like someone has repeatedly hit the replay button on the #1 song "SEC Speed"—but it's really starting to get a little old.
The SEC has been a great conference these past few years and the most competitive out of all the BCS conferences. I'm sorry, though, it doesn't make the SEC bigger or faster or stronger. Nor is the SEC going to be on top forever.
Everyone argues that the Big Ten just isn't on the same level as the SEC because of Ohio State these past two years. That has nothing to do with it. That just means that Ohio State isn't on the same level as Florida and LSU in 2006 and 2007, respectively.
Just because someone is playing on an SEC team doesn't make them faster than their Big Ten equivalent. They may be faster—Auburn may have recruited a faster running back than Wisconsin—but not as a result of the patch on his jersey that reads "SEC." That's because, at the same time, Michigan is recruiting a running back that is faster than the Auburn guy or the LSU recruit.
Reggie Bush, Vince Young, Peter Warrick, Pat White, Lawrence Maroney, Troy Smith, Desmond Howard, Warrick Dunn. These are all fast guys, and none of them played in the SEC. They were faster than anyone else in the Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 10 and ACC—and they would have been faster than anyone else in the SEC too.
Recall the late 1990's and the early 2000's, when you would constantly find Big Ten teams like Purdue, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan State ranked in the top 25 along with Ohio State and Michigan. At the same time, I can only recall a few of the SEC teams that would be ranked—Florida, Auburn, Georgia and LSU.
Things change. Teams and conferences fluctuate, and states and regions surge with good recruits. Just because a conference is down right now doesn't necessarily mean that it's eternally inferior to another. Just because Ohio State lost to two SEC teams doesn't mean that the SEC is the all-time pinnacle of college football—or that SEC states produce the best recruits.
Take a gander the almighty 2006 Florida team—a team that defines SEC style football and the "SEC Speed." They're a team that pulls so many "great" in-state prospects and "great" recruits throughout "SEC Country."
But wait—three of their best players weren't even from "SEC Country." Chris Leak is from North Carolina. Jarvis Moss is from Texas. And running back Deshawn Wynn is from... OHIO!
To me, that sounds like Atlantic Coast Speed, or Texas Speed or Midwest Speed. They didn't become any better or any faster because they went to an SEC school. Had Leak gone to NC State, Moss went to Texas and Deshawn Wynn went to Ohio State, they all would have become the same players that they are today.
I'm not bashing on the SEC. I think its a great conference an has the highest level of competitiveness, along with the other BCS conferences. Sure they might be the best conference right now—but 5 years ago it was the Big Ten, 10 years ago it was the Big 12 and 15 years ago it was the Big East. In five years it will be the Pac 10 and in 10 years it will be the ACC.
Everyone seems to take their turn at the top.Gregory Salyer is the author of Red Reign, an in-depth Louisville Cardinal blog.
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