SEC Football: 2011 Marked the SEC's Return as a Strong Defensive Conference

Dr. SECAnalyst IIDecember 15, 2011

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 03:  Aaron Murray #11 of the Georgia Bulldogs lays in the ground after being sacked by Lavar Edwards #89 of the LSU Tigers during the 2011 SEC Championship Game at Georgia Dome on December 3, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The only negative part of covering SEC football is that sometimes our fanbases perception is simply not the reality. However, because they are generally accepted truths among other SEC fans, they take it as the gospel.

So it's with the idea that the SEC has been a great defensive league over the past few seasons. Over the past five seasons, the SEC added great offensive minds like Bobby Petrino, Urban Meyer and Dan Mullen. We have also seen coordinators like Gus Malzahn come into the league and find success.

At the same time, the SEC defenses were going to the toilets. For example, Georgia went from one of the nation's best defenses to a laughing stock after the departure of Brian VanGorder. Before LSU brought the Chief John Chavis to Baton Rouge, they were getting 50 hung on them at home.

This season, however, the SEC has returned back to being a dominant defensive league. The top four teams in the nation in total defense are all SEC schools with Alabama, LSU, Georgia and South Carolina rounding out the top four and Florida coming in ninth.

How dominant are SEC defenses? Seven of the 11 players voted to the recent All-American first defensive team were SEC players.

Moreover, six of the back seven of the defensive first team were SEC players including the whole secondary.

How did the league return back to their defensive dominance? The answer is simple: they went and got the best defensive coordinators available. Some teams transitioned faster than others, but many have reached the goal.

For Alabama, the transition was simple—they brought in Nick Saban. LSU replaced Doug Mallory with Chavis. Georgia replaced Willie Martinez with Todd Grantham. Tyrone Nix was replaced with Ellis Johnson. Florida hired a defensive-minded coach, and Mississippi State had Manny Diaz lay the groundwork for Chris Wilson. 

The top two teams from each division of the SEC made up the top four defenses for the whole nation. In other words, the SEC is the best conference in the nation, and you will need a strong defense to win it. 

Other teams are taking notes. Auburn is just one year removed from a national championship but knew they needed a change at defensive coordinator to make it back to Atlanta.   

Other teams like Arkansas will never take that next step until they become a better defensive team. Yes, they can put up points versus most teams, but it will not be enough against teams like Alabama and LSU. 

The old saying is true, offense sells tickets, but defense wins ball games, and the only way to win the SEC on a consistent basis is with a solid defense. 

The SEC is a different kind of conference. Many times, the best athletes are moved to defense instead of offense. However, look at the BCS championship lineup and you will see that this model works.