Kirby Smart believes football programs outside of the SEC utilize an interesting recruiting pitch, telling young players they would have a better chance to advance their careers if they don't join the SEC because it's too competitive and physical.
The Georgia Bulldogs coach revealed his theory during an interview on The Paul Finebaum Show (h/t Tom VanHaaren of ESPN):
"But that's not the way the NFL GMs are looking at it, and that's not the way the NFL coaches are looking at it. They want to take kids that want to compete at the highest level, that want to go play in those big-time matchups, and that's what the kids want. They want to go play in the biggest games in the biggest pieces, and that's what they aspire to do. So, for a coach in another conference to sell, 'Hey, it might be an easier path to come over here and go this way,' it just speaks volumes."
His comments come in the wake of 15 players from the SEC being selected in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night. No other conference had more than five players selected.
- Big Ten: Five first-round picks.
- Big 12: Five first-round picks.
- ACC: Three first-round picks.
- Pac-12: Three first-round picks.
The SEC also continues to dominate the recruiting rankings. According to 247Sports' composite rankings, the conference had three of the top four teams in the 2020 recruiting cycle (No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Alabama and No. 4 LSU). In 2019, the conference had four of the top five teams (No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Georgia, No. 4 Texas A&M and No. 5 LSU).
That is reflected at the highest level of play, too, with the SEC boasting 10 college football national champions since 2006.
So yes, the SEC can make a strong claim as the best conference in college football at the moment. Perhaps other coaches are attempting to use that against SEC programs to poach recruits. Thus far, however, it doesn't seem that message is resonating.