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Revenge of the SEC: College Football's Dominant Conference Won't Be Down Long

Ray GlierCollege Football National ColumnistJanuary 15, 2015

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ATLANTA — I checked with my sources. The SEC is not surrendering to Urban Meyer.     

Y'all think the Mississippis and the Tide and the Dawgs and the Tigers look like potted plants right about now, but their answer to the Urbanator is coming the next three weeks.

SEC coaches are going to roll up the long driveway at Buford High School in Buford, Georgia, and confirm commitments of some of that school's nine Division I prospects. SEC coaches are going to roll a few miles down the road to Grayson, where there are five seniors with D-I ability. They are going to swing around I-285 to Stephenson High in Stone Mountain, which has eight players with D-I offers.

Cedar Grove, also in DeKalb County, has Division I players. So does Archer in Gwinnett. Mays in Atlanta has five seniors committed to Division I schools.

These are schools within 25-32 miles of each other. We're not talking about the talent in the rest of the state, or the rest of the South. We're talking the same neighborhood.

Tom Lemming, a national recruiting analyst, said Gwinnett County, Georgia, in the Atlanta area, is the second-best county in the country for D-I talent, behind Broward in South Florida. Lemming had a seminar for Gwinnett rising seniors last fall, and 30 Division I prospects walked through the door.

Of the 75 players on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's thoroughly researched Super 75 for the state of Georgia, more than half are heading to SEC schools. That's one state.

On ESPN's Top 300, 56 of the top 80 prospects were in the SEC footprint. I stopped counting after 80 because, well, you get the point.

Meanwhile, NFL teams will sign more players from the SEC than those conferences in the Midwest, East, West and Southwest. Per NFL.com's Mike Huguenin, the SEC has had the most players drafted for eight straight years, which proves the conference hauls in talent and develops it.

That casket being lowered into the ground, the one supposed to be full of an SEC corpse, is empty.

Jan 1, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban and Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer speak on the field prior to the 2015 Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

There is no question Meyer is back as the best coach in college football, but he's won just a single title at Ohio State. Alabama had three in four years. The SEC just finished a run in which it was in eight straight title games with four different teams. Georgia was on the doorstep in 2012.

Alabama is still the NFL's 33rd franchise, not Ohio State.

This bunk about the SEC shriveling up started in New Orleans. I had a reporter from a national outlet tell me Mike Bobo left Georgia to become head coach at Colorado State because UGA would not take care of its assistant coaches with raises. Two days later, defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt got a new deal for $1.3 million annually.

Let's stay there for a moment, on the subject of money. John Chavis, the veteran defensive coordinator, was snatched away from LSU by Texas A&M for $1.7 million annually. Will Muschamp, the new DC at Auburn, the old coach at Florida, was just lured in by a salary above $1.6 million a year.

Does that look like a white flag fluttering in the breeze? No, it looks like a lot of cash fluttering in the breeze.

The Big Ten just won its first national title since Ohio State beat Miami in 2002, with the help of a late, late flag that is still fluttering in the air. And the Buckeyes are supposed to be all things 'Bama?

Meyer is a terrific coach. I get it. The idea he ran from Nick Saban with some made-up ailments in 2010 is a crock.

I watched from the sidelines in New Orleans as Meyer used motion and formations to get Alabama unbalanced and then ran around the end. It was great scheming, helped by the fact that on Ezekiel Elliott's 85-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, All-American safety Landon Collins and 'Bama's best linebacker, Reggie Ragland, were not on the field because of injuries.

It was interesting to see Ohio State's players up close when the Buckeyes were down 21-6 to Alabama. No panic. That's coaching and leadership. I thought all along that the loss to Virginia Tech, which was tied around the neck of the Buckeyes for two months, was overblown. Tech was riddled with injuries and was not the same team at the end of the season that beat Ohio State at the beginning of the year.

Ohio State has most of its offensive line back, as well as its defensive line and Elliott. That is so Alabama-like. The Buckeyes, I've heard, also have a few quarterbacks to choose from.

An esteemed colleague, Matt Hayes of Sporting News, wrote that Meyer is the new king of college football because he is ruthless and relentless.

You want ruthless desire to win? How about Saban? Last week he welcomed a 340-pound early enrollee, defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor, who was kicked out of Georgia after allegedly committing theft and choking a woman. This is after another defensive end, D.J. Pettway, was brought back to 'Bama even after he allegedly had a role in an on-campus robbery.

According to Rivals, Taylor also had offers from Mississippi State and LSU.

Nobody is going to out-ruthless the SEC.

Relentless? Alabama had a ferocious defensive line, and it will welcome into the 2015 rotation the best defensive line prospect from 2014, Da'Shawn Hand. He will team with A'Shawn Robinson and Jonathan Allen and Pettway to give Alabama a defensive line better than Ohio State's. LSU just hired a superb defensive line coach, Ed Orgeron, who also happens to be a terrific recruiter. Ask around.

SEC schools' 2015 class rank
SchoolRank
Alabama1
Georgia5
Tennessee6
Texas A&M8
Auburn12
South Carolina13
Mississippi State16
LSU17
Arkansas22
Mississippi23
Kentucky37
Missouri45
Vanderbilt59
Florida94
Rivals

How is this for relentless? Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and LSU are relentless for stockpiling talent. They will do it again on national signing day in a few weeks. Eight of the top 20 schools on the Rivals board are SEC schools. Recruiting analysts get their information from college assistant coaches. These rankings are not bunk.

There are some things I detest about the SEC. The number of junior-college players. The number of juniors who leave school too early because they are going nowhere academically, and they want the money for their families.

The fraudulent courses these football players take are abominable. The 40-hour work weeks for football players to help a coach keep his multimillion-dollar job are distasteful. The SEC Network making us pay for things we used to get free every Saturday afternoon aggravates me, too. All that should be troubling to the fan of SEC football.

What should not be troubling is the future. Signing day will affirm the SEC's superiority in college football. Ohio State is still in Ohio. The best football players are still in the South.

Ray Glier covers college football for Bleacher Report.

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