Just finished reading "The Place to Be," this week's Sports Illustrated cover story about the Southeastern Conference. By the time I was done, I was pretty confident the SEC is only place college football is played in the US. But then I had a cup of coffee and, thought about what was written, and decided to pen (or in this case type) a response.
I first learned that the NFL only like SEC players (drafting 400 of them from the 2000 NFL Draft) and only settles for other conferences players when there are no more SEC players available. Now I know this gets a little dicey in the South but let's talk about what they call averages or medians. The SEC has more players drafted because, well, they have more teams. The Pac-10 however has had more players drafter PER TEAM than the might SEC.
Then I learned there is a loyalty among the coaches to the SEC with the author noting "one curiosity about the league's coaches is how often they move around within the conference." He then goes on to inform us about a whole eight coaches, head or assistant (Steve Spurrier, Houston Nutt, John Chavis, Ed Orgeron, Lance Thompson, Randy Sanders, Dan Mullen, and David Rheaves) As if coaches in other conferences simply leave the conference rather than work for a former opponent. Without even looking it up, lets look at the Pac-10, from North to South, which as the South knows is how the Civil War ended up:
Washington - Steve Sarkissian, Nick Holt (formerly of USC)
Oregon State - Mike Riley (formerly USC)
Oregon - Nick Allioti (formerly UCLA) Steve Greatwood (formerly USC)
Cal - Jeff Tedford (formerly Oregon)
UCLA - Rick Neuheisel (Washington), Norm Chow (USC), DeWayne Walker (USC) Wayne Moses (USC)
USC - (No mention of Ken Norton because of course why would his alma mater want him to coach their linebackers.)
Arizona State - Dennis Erickson (formerly Oregon St. but he is former everywhere so does he really count?)
That's 11 coaches without even looking up a list of all the coaches. Needless to say, the SEC is not the only conference where coaches stick around simply because it is the best around.
Not only does the SEC have conference loyalty though, I learned their is family loyalty in the SEC because Houston Nutt, Steve Spurrier, and Lane Kiffin all hired family members. Does the SEC really want to tout this family tree thing? That being said, it also happens elsewhere; Pete Carroll hired his son Brennan, Oregon's former head coach and WR coach had kid's on their team, Bob Stoops had two brothers work for him, and we all know Rick Neuheisel wanted his kids to carry his headsets. Of course Houston Nutt showed us the academic level of the SEC with his response regarding nepotism by hiring his brother. "It was the first time I had ever heard the word. Nepotism? What's that?"
The article then shares with us the wonderful matchups the SEC had,Tennessee-Georgia, Arkansas-Auburn, Alabama-Ole Miss, and LSU-Florida, and made this out to be the ultimate in CFB matchups. Think about these supposed "sledgehammer" matchups. Tennessee (lost at home to UCLA) and Georgia needed a last second field goal at home to beat Arizona State. Both of those teams will be at the bottom of the Pac-10. Arkansas had Georgia drop 52 on them (UGA only got 17 on ASU) and Auburn has an ok win over West Virginia (which doesn't have Pat White or Steve Slaton anymore.) Are those games any more impressive than a Cal beating Minnesota? Alabama "dominated" Ole Miss! Big deal. Ole Miss' only big victory is over Memphis who was in the Final Four, oh wait, that's basketball. Just because you are overhyped at the start of the season doesn't make you a big win for someone during the season. Finally, while LSU-Florida was certainly the nation's marquis matchup last Saturday, has either team proven out of conference that they are unbelievably better than everyone else?
Finally, I'm quite sure the SEC does not want to use Houston Nutt as the spokesman for the conference, not with his "I watch [teams in] other conferences all the time and I think, Boy, I'd like to play them" statement. Really Houston, you who's OOC games the past four years have been (2009 Memphis, SE Louisiana, UAB, Northern Arizona, 2008 - Memphis, Wake Forest, Samford, Louisiana-Monroe, 2007 @ Arkansas - Troy, North Texas, Tennessee Chattanooga, Florida International, and 2006 USC, Utah St, SE Missouri St, and Louisiana Monroe.) Apart from your USC game (a 50-14 whooping I might add) are you actually watching any BCS conferences.? In your defense Houston, neither was Nick Saban when he got ran off the field last year by Utah.
Reading this article, I was wondering how a SI writer, usually so unbiased, could write such an uneducated piece. Then I read the final note: John Ed Bradley played center for LSU. John Ed,(no shocker on the two first names by the way) I don't doubt the SEC is the best conference. I think Florida and Alabama deserve to be #1 and #2 (maybe not in that order) right now, and I think LSU is a decent squad, but let's not make Georgia, Tennessee, Ole Miss, and the others to be a murderer's row. Its just a shame that LSU losing to Florida is a battle of "sledgehammers" but when Cal loses to an Oregon and USC, they are underachieving and the victors in those games are demeaned despite controlling wins. Football is played elsewhere in the country, despite what the SEC, CBS, and SI believe.
Oh and by the way, since 2000, the Pac-10 is 11-8 against the mighty SEC.