SEC still the one to beat
The debate over the best conference in college football usually centers on offense versus defense, and this year is no different.
The two most frequently named candidates are the Big 12 and Southeastern Conference, and both have a valid claim to the title.
For many, the old adage ‘defense wins championships’ ring true, and the SEC is king in this area. Couple that with raw talent, rivalries and unforgiving schedules, and the SEC’s argument becomes more compelling.
This powerhouse conference seemingly places the most teams in bowl games every season. Since the Big 12 began play in 1996, the SEC has produced six national champions. The Big 12 can claim only three national titles in this span.
The poster boy of the SEC, and seemingly all of college football, is two-time national champion and 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow. The preseason All-American will try to lead Associated Press No. 1 Florida to its third title in four years. But, like every season, Tebow and the Gators must overcome a daunting schedule.
Strength in numbers
The SEC has five teams ranked in the top 13 of the AP preseason poll, and the other teams in this conference are not pushovers. With coaches such as South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier, LSU’s Les Miles, Florida’s Urban Meyer and Alabama’s Nick Saban roaming the sidelines, games are often decided by strategy, despite the incredible talent on the field.
The SEC’s depth also sets it apart from other BCS conferences. The conference’s lower-tier teams would wipe the floor with the likes of Baylor if they played on a regular basis. This is especially true when playing at an SEC stadium, where home-field advantage becomes even more pronounced.
When it comes to producing NFL players, the SEC is far superior to other conferences. The 2009 draft saw 37 selections of former SEC players, more than any other conference.
Eight of the 32 first-round selections were from SEC schools. In 10 of the last 12 NFL drafts, the SEC has had the most players taken, so this is not a sudden trend.
Although producing NFL talent is not the only barometer of a conference’s strength, it is a good indication of the level of talent and style of play that NFL scouts desire. South Carolina, a second-rate SEC program, had the highest number of players selected in the ’09 draft, displaying how the conference’s depth is stronger than ever.
Although Tebow receives a lot of attention and accolades, he is not the only SEC player who has dominated opponents. He is just one of seven SEC players on the preseason All-American team, giving the SEC 29 percent of the 24-man roster.
The last three national champions, and four of the previous six, came from the SEC. Florida won the title in 2006 and 2008, while LSU took the crown in 2003 and 2007.
The SEC is to be reckoned with, and UH can send a message to the rest of the college football world by topping Mississippi State on Oct. 10 in Starkville, Miss.