The Southeastern Conference is the best conference in the BCS and it isn’t even debatable.
Holders of five straight BCS championships and a 7-0 record since its inception in 1999, the SEC has dominated all other conferences in the game that matters most.
The popular aphorism “Speed Earns Championships” has been bandied about in recent years as a possible explanation. Never was it more prominent than when LSU was gearing up for the 2007 championship game against Ohio State. Could the Buckeyes keep up with the Tigers’ dominating speed?
I don’t doubt that LSU was a faster team than the Buckeyes, or that the SEC is the fastest conference in the nation, but that isn’t to say that speed does in fact earn championships. The Oakland Raiders have been playing football for the past 40 years with that credo in mind. Their past decade of putrid football should be more than enough evidence to dismiss the idea that speed is the most important statistic in determining who wins and who loses.
With that in mind, what exactly does make the SEC the best conference in the country?
I know, I know. I just said that speed doesn’t determine who wins a football game and now I’m saying it does.
Speed is an important variable in a football game. Take it to the logical extremes. What would a football game look like when a team full of Usain Bolts played a team of Larry Kings? It wouldn’t be pretty, that’s for sure.
The difference in speed between conferences isn’t great. But there is a difference, and thus it is still a determining factor. It is just not the most important factor.
In the past three years, the SEC has had the greatest number of players with the top 40-yard dash times at the NFL combine. The other BCS conferences had one to three performers in the top 15 each year.
The SEC had five each of the past two years and four in 2008.
With the Big 12 and ACC tying for second with three each this year, the SEC crushed them both.
They are consistently the fastest conference every year at the combine and nobody comes close.
This domination is going to be a recurring theme so pay attention.
Coaching is obviously very important when it comes to winning.
A coach is measured by his win-loss record. The greatest coaches always have dominating records. Vince Lombardi, John Madden and Nick Saban are some of the greatest coaches during their respective eras and leagues and each has won more than 70 percent of his games.
The perceived worth of a coach is reflected in his salary. Saban has accomplished more and is a better coach than Lane Kiffin of USC and, thus, is paid more than him.
Of the top 20 highest paid college football coaches in 2010, the SEC was home to eight of them. The Big 12, Big 10 and ACC each had a measly three to their credit.
Great coaches keep finding their way to SEC country. Will Muschamp at Florida might be the newest example.
The well-worn cliché “follow the money” rings true once again. Coaches consistently go to the programs where money seemingly grows on trees. The greatest coaches, especially in college football, have routinely made their way to programs with money to spend.
Speaking of money…
As of 2009, three quarters of SEC teams rank in the top 20 most valuable college football programs as ranked by Forbes.com.
Forbes based their rankings on yearly revenue generated, media contracts and other fiscal contributions made by the football programs independently of other aspects of the universities to which they belong.
Even South Carolina, who just won their first SEC East title this past year and has no legacy of championships, has enough green to pay a top line coach like Steve Spurrier to lead their program. With more money to throw around, it is no surprise that a football program will be more successful.
If you look at baseball, the New York Yankees routinely have one of, if not the, highest payrolls in the majors. However, the Yankees do not have the wealthiest owner in baseball, as their payroll would suggest. There seems to be a correlation between the amount of money invested in a program, the amount of success on the field and the returns on investment.
The SEC may be on to something.
Talent is probably the second most important aspect, next to work ethic, that determines the quality of a player. And when it comes to talent, the SEC’s dominance is downright silly.
According to Rivals.com, the SEC has averaged nine teams in the top 25 of recruiting classes in the past three years. That is a truly remarkable number, but how does it compare to the other conferences?
The ACC, Big 10 and Pac-10 each average a whopping four teams each year in the top 25.
That’s right. The SEC more than doubles all other conferences in the number of teams with upper-echelon talent.
Not only does this favor the SEC’s top tier programs like Alabama or Florida, but it also makes the conference well-rounded as a whole. When Ole Miss is consistently one of the top recruiting teams in the country, but can’t make waves in a stacked conference, you know there is some serious playmakers in those elite programs.
With the talent trickling down through the league, is it really such a surprise that the SEC champion is almost never undefeated come bowl season?
The question then becomes: Why does the SEC have so many quality teams with the resources needed to win?
Passion is the key to all of the success that the SEC has reaped over the past century.
The reason you pay a lot of money for a coach, recruiting coordinators, facilities and sometimes the players themselves is because of desire.
You have to want to succeed before you can ever do it.
In the south, football is king. The SEC treats basketball nonchalantly and the league reflects it. But they work at football. It is the lifeblood of the whole region.
The SEC is home to eight of the 25 largest stadiums in the country. These stadiums regularly sell-out despite the win-loss record of the team and generate massive revenue for the programs. This is direct evidence of the fans’ passion for the sport and for their respective teams. Again, the SEC is the top conference in another measurable statistic.
Passion is profitable and it is because SEC fans are the most passionate fans that they have the best conference in the nation.