The SEC has been regarded as the best football conference in the country for the past decade, though last season, it did show cracks in the foundation, even as Alabama was one second away from winning its fifth national title since 2009.
It's a conference built primarily on dominant defenses, like Alabama, LSU and Florida, with vanilla offenses that do just enough to not lose games.
Washington State head coach Mike Leach, who spent two seasons as Kentucky's offensive coordinator from 1997-98, is an innovative offensive mind who thinks SEC offenses are too predictable.
“This is a great time to be in the SEC, everybody’s got the same offense: run right, run left, play action," he told Antonio Morales of the Clarion-Ledger. "And they tease themselves and say we threw it four more times a game this year than we did last year.”
Expanding on that thought, Leach described what he's seen from SEC offenses compared to the rest of the country.
“I’ve got bad news for all these levels people,” Leach said. “Your level isn’t special, your conference isn’t special. All this different level this, different level that. That’s crazy. How is it better? Somebody coaches better athletes, somehow they morph into something smarter, that’s crazy. I mean, you still have problems, you still have 11 parts you can wiggle around to counter the other 11 parts.”
Leach said the most skepticism his philosophy faced came when he was coaching in the SEC.
“First, it becomes it won’t work,” Leach said. “Second, they basically say oh it’s a system, suggesting that people who don’t do it that way, who just run it up the middle, stick all your asses together so one hand grenade can kill everybody, that’s the right way to do it. Since they do it the right way, they’re OK with the fact they lost."
It's not a secret the SEC doesn't play a sexy style of football. Per Clayton Freeman of GridironNow.com, Missouri was the only team in the conference to finish in the top 20 FBS offenses by yards per game and three teams finished outside the top 100 nationally in total offense.
Whether or not Lane Kiffin was any sort of answer for Alabama's offense, he was replaced by Steve Sarkisian as offensive coordinator heading into the College Football Playoff National Championship Game against Clemson.
Keep in mind under Kiffin's watch, Alabama true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts was named SEC Offensive Player of the Year.
Leach has his flaws as a head coach. Going back to his time at Texas Tech starting in 2000, he's never shown a particular interest in building a strong defensive team.
Last year, Washington State finished 50th with 26.4 points allowed per game, its highest ranking in five seasons under Leach.
But few coaches in the country know offense better than Leach. Even in a different era of SEC football, Kentucky finished 11th nationally in points scored during his second season as offensive coordinator that helped turn Tim Couch into the No. 1 overall draft pick the following year.