There is a proverb that states, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Tonight, as the initial BCS standings were released, these words once again rang true. Just as the five previous BCS rankings ended, the SEC once again stood atop the rankings.
It is no longer a question of if an SEC team will stand atop the BCS rankings, it is a question of which team will stand atop of the college football world. Not only has an SEC team won the BCS national championship each of the past five seasons, but four separate schools have contributed to the streak.
During this impressive five-year streak, the Pac-10, Big 12 and Big 10 have all made it to the BCS championship game, and the three conferences have been defeated each time. Chances are it would had been six out of seven seasons had an undefeated Auburn team not been left out in 2004.
The SEC’s domination is no longer in doubt. The question is now: why are they so dominant?
There are several reasons why this is the case. However, none shine as brightly as high school recruiting trends. Over the past six seasons, the SEC has dominated the recruiting scene. If you track the top 11 team recruiting rankings during that time, SEC teams filled 29 of the 66 available spots.
If the SEC fills, on average, five of the top eleven spots in the Rivals recruiting rankings, that means that 120 schools are left to battle each season for the remaining six spots.
While many conferences have football programs with team speed, none compare to the depth and level of SEC teams. While the skill position players might balance out from league to league, the speed of the interior lines is not even debatable. There is no running side-to-side in the SEC. The team speed is too fast and too effective.
The recruiting advantage that the SEC holds takes all but a handful of non-SEC teams out of the competition. Other programs are like Nissan Altimas: they are cute and get good gas mileage, but they cannot compare to the speed and acceleration of the SEC's Lamborghini.
For the handful of programs able to compete talent-wise, other road blocks are too strong. For example, SEC teams are willing to invest as much money as needed to obtain the top coaching staffs to develop these young stars.
Last season, seven of the eight highest paid assistant coaches were employed by SEC teams. Six of the top ten paid assistant coaching staffs all resided in the SEC as well. Those six teams were Alabama ($3.27 million), LSU ($3.15), Auburn ($2.93), Tennessee ($2.75), Florida ($2.74) and Georgia ($2.54).
Do you think it is a coincidence that the top two teams in the initial BCS rankings also have the two highest paid coaching staffs? Moreover, the four teams that have contributed to the five consecutive BCS national championships all rank in the top six in assistant coaching staff payrolls.
When you see the discrepancy in recruiting and money spent by SEC teams, it becomes evident why the SEC is the nation’s dominant conference and why the gap is widening.
Fans of non-SEC teams are hopeful this will be the season the SEC is derailed. While it is possible that a non-SEC team might knock off an SEC team in this season's BCS national championship game, the trend is not going to change.
When an SEC team is finally dethroned, they are going to turn up the heat that much more. In other words, regardless of your preference, the SEC has planted the roots to be the strongest conference in college football for the foreseeable future.