Why has the SEC dominated CFB and will it continue?

Submitted by ChicagoB1GRed on January 1st, 2012 at 11:53 AM

Excellent in-depth article in the Omaha World-Herald examining the SEC's recent domination, driving forces behind it, and future prospects. Good read on this off-day in the bowl season before the big games start. Looks at  divisional alignment, top athletic dept budgets, oversigning and recruiting loopholes, playing style, demographics, and more.

And concludes: "It's easy to identify why the SEC is better. What's more complicated is pinpointing what changed in the last decade. What prompted the surge?......But the SEC's rise to powerhouse is no fluke. And the reasons behind it — the power sources — suggest that the gap between the SEC and its competitors may actually grow over the next five years."

Link to full article:






January 1st, 2012 at 11:55 AM ^

Off of the top of my head, the whole over signing thing comes to mind. Couple that with admitting anyone with a core body temperature of 98.6 and you get SSSSEEEEEEECEEEEEE dominance.


January 1st, 2012 at 3:51 PM ^

i have a question, why is the sec being talked about as the only conference that over signs kids? 2008 Virgina Tech had 31 commits, Wisconsin in 08' had 26, Oklahoma in 10' had 29 thats just to name a few. Now did they change the rule to 25 last year or has that been the rule for a while?


January 1st, 2012 at 4:13 PM ^

You can sign as many kids in a year as necessary to reach 85 scholarship players.  In some years more people leave a program than others for a host of reasons, injuries, academics, graduation, etc. thus requiring more recruits.  Michigan this year will be in that exact situation.

In the SEC, you can sign up to 25 players in a give year regardless of the number of people who are still in the program.  It reduces the amount of oversigning to some extent, but is still a big advantage in most cases if a school engages in this practice. If more than 85 players are on the roster as the season approaches, players must be dropped due to various shady practices.  This practice is, in large part, prohibited by the B1G.

This is a bit of a simpification.


January 1st, 2012 at 12:07 PM ^

Does it matter? The only time it matters for the B1G is when we play for the National Championship, and anyone can win in a one-game set-up. 

I don't think the disparity will grow, as oversigning and unethical practices will slowly start to be eroded away by the NCAA, one advantage of the SEC will dissipate. Also, as more and more players start to really focus on football, the top level of elite players will grow and grow, allowing middle class schools to start to build up its talent base and allow it to compete with the big boys. This has happened to a degree in BBall as mid-level schools like Butler and Gonzaga can compete and win on a National scale. 


January 1st, 2012 at 12:19 PM ^

Who in the B1G was worthy for consideration? I believe that is a necessary condition for being excluded by the SEC

The only team with a true grudge is Oklahoma State. But the fact is this year, the two best teams are LSU and Alabama...


January 1st, 2012 at 1:04 PM ^

Really, "the fact is"...?  With this kind of certainty, someone alert the NCAA and BCS that it's easier than we thought.  We can just wait for coldnjl to give us the FACTS, and there's our national championship game.  


January 1st, 2012 at 1:14 PM ^

Well, if Wisconsin hadn't lost against Ohio State in the last seconds of that game they would have been a second team blocked out of the championship game.

How do you know Alabama is one of the two best teams? The only good team they beat was Arkansas, and possibly Penn State if you're being generous.


January 1st, 2012 at 1:38 PM ^

Another team that could potentially have been in consideration for the title game was Oregon, had they not lost to USC late in the season.  To that point, their only loss was to LSU at a neutral site in the opening week of the season.  That said, I doubt they would have gotten the nod.  They could have pulled votes away from somebody though, and changed the outcome (though, presumably, they would have pulled fewer votes from Alabama than from Oklahoma State).


January 1st, 2012 at 1:23 PM ^

The Big 12, over the course of the season, asserted itself the best conference in college football this year.  There were many people charting OOC play this year, myself being one of them, and each of them that I have seen listed the Big 12 as the best conference in out of conference play.  The hype around the SEC is why Alabama is playing in the title.  The SEC has been the best conference for the past few years, but they were not this year.  Also, don't neg someone for having a counter-argument to your point, its bad form.  I did not specifically say that the SEC prevented the Big 10 from a title shot.  They wormed their way in to making sure NOBODY had a title shot, other than the SEC.  Fact is, the SEC is top heavy this year and living off its own reputation.  Alabama can't be conclusively listed the second best team in the country.  Your stance is ludicrous and your argument flawed.



January 1st, 2012 at 1:51 PM ^

Oklahoma State lost to Iowa State November 18 to a 6-7 Iowa State team that lost to Rutgers in their bowl game. It was in 2-OT, but when you play a team like Iowa State and you are allegedly the number 2 team, you are expected to put them away easily. 

Oregon lost to USC on Nov 18 by 3 points at home, but it was their second loss. 

Stanford got crushed by Oregon by 23 at home to Oregon on November 12.

Alabama lost to LSU in Ot by 3 points at home on November 5.

I don't really see what is ludicrous about saying that Alabama belongs in the National Championship game as the second best team, especially when you look at the top teams losses. And for you to say that no one had a chance is idiotic. The teams with a chance lost after the Alabama loss to LSU, giving Alabama a chance to play in the game.  Losong first has   always been an advantage in the eyes of the BCS, especially since they lost to the top team in the country by a narrow margin (esp when they missed numerous field goals). 


January 1st, 2012 at 6:18 PM ^

Year after year people compare the wins of the best teams in college.  This team has a marquee win over so-and-so and this team didn't beat anybody.  It was always about WINS and who that team beat.  This year, it was suddenly different and people only talked about losses.  Suddenly we're talking about how Alabama should get in the title game because they only lost to LSU, not because they beat good teams.  

Besides Penn State and Arkansas, I don't see any teams that I'd be impressed with.  Penn State has a great defense but horrible offense while Arkansas barely edged their opponent in almost every game.  Alabama played an easy schedule in my opinion and while I'm not saying Oklahoma State's was better, they are at least equal in that respect.  I think Oklahoma State should have been given their shot as it's not only unfair to give a damn rematch, but because I don't agree with keeping the national championship as an inter-conference game where nobody else has a shot to show that, possibly, their conference was better than the SEC this year.


January 1st, 2012 at 9:25 PM ^

Big Ten has a shot. Three Big Ten - SEC tilts this year at least. We need to beat them head-to-head. Stage 1, beat them this bowl season. Stage 2, beat Alabama in Jerry World next year.

Our biggest rivals may be OSU, MSU, and ND. However, the road to National CFB leadership lies through the SEC.


January 1st, 2012 at 7:10 PM ^

Okie St. also beat Baylor, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas State, and Missouri - all bowl teams - oftentimes by large margins.  Alabama beat PSU, Arkansas, Florida, Auburn, Miss St., and Vandy - all bowl teams as well, but definitely not of the same caliber as the teams Oklahoma St. put away.  I mean, is Arkansas the best win on that resume? 

Alabama got the nod because they lost to LSU earlier in the season and because people think the SEC is awesome despite evidence to the contrary.  And if Alabama wins, they will have a slightly less impressive resume compared to LSU but will be crowned the MNC simply because they won the last game.  That makes no sense to me, and no amount of rationalization about "factual" superiority by Alabama justifies them getting the nod over Oklahoma St.


January 1st, 2012 at 1:28 PM ^

"Fact?"  Puh-leeze.  One of the things that separates MGB from RCMB and 11W is that most people here are intelligent enough to know that their opinions are simply that" opinions.  There is really no objective way to determine which teams really are the "best."  Until their is a playoff to determine a true champion on the field, the "NC" will be an MNC.  


January 1st, 2012 at 1:31 PM ^

He's just playing into the fact that back in the day Alabama retroactively assigned itself national titles on a whim.  From what I read somewhere on here, they even assigned themselves a national title one year even though they didn't win their conference.  In that case, win or lose, Alabama is now the 2012 National Champions.  Hurray for subjectivity!!!


January 1st, 2012 at 2:03 PM ^

I am by no means an Alabama slappy, but by what metrics did any team deserve to be in the game above them? Is that fan base and University crazy? Probably, but how does that affect their chance to play in the game? Big XII was a better conference than the SEC, but not by much and was full of teams in the back of the top 25. They lost to LSU, and do they deserve a rematch. I think so, as I thought UM deserved a rematch with tOSU years ago. Hurray for subjectivity!


January 1st, 2012 at 12:12 PM ^

...additional factor.

Conventional wisdom and media self interest. The national media thrives on easy story lines that drive page views and ratings. Once the narrative is set, it takes a monumental event to alter perception. LSU has certainly earned its NCG berth, but 'Bama is there primarily because of the SEC superiority CW.

The only way to break the myth of SEC superiority is for teams in other conferences to win when they have the opportunity. Which is why the Michigan - Alabama 2012 opener is so huge - and not just for Michigan itself - but really for the rest of FBS.


January 1st, 2012 at 5:32 PM ^

"The only way to break the myth of SEC superiority is for teams in other conferences to win when they have the opportunity."

We have a winner. The SEC is considered better, and frankly IS better, because they WIN BIG GAMES. LSU and Bama have won a bunch of big games to open their seasons the last 4 years and the conference continually wins bowl games and championship games.

I agree the Michigan-Bama game is big next year.


January 1st, 2012 at 2:43 PM ^

They run a pretty clean program down here. It is sad but most people want Mark out because he does things like suspend players for off the field infractions. Most think that he should be running his program more like Ala, LSU, etc.


January 1st, 2012 at 2:34 PM ^

I think one other thing that makes a difference is how ESPN likes to tell everyone over and over that the SEC is the best and toughest conference. If you're an 18 yr old kid and you know that you're going to be seen by more people around the country by playing in the SEC because ESPN is going to show the majority of their games and you'll get even more face time on Sportscenter then why wouldn't you want to go there if exposure is one of the big things you're looking for. This I think helps funnel the players to the SEC more so than the other conferences as a whole, perception becomes reality.


January 1st, 2012 at 12:47 PM ^

Here is (IMO) the key statement in the article:

"Each of the last five years, the SEC has led all conferences in NFL Draft picks."

Those numbers don't generally lie. Looking into why (oversigning, JUCO-mining, etc.) they get those players is another story.


January 1st, 2012 at 12:54 PM ^

Absolutely no way the gap between the SEC and the country grows, especially if the NCAA ever puts strict rules down that actually force them to recruit at the same rate as the rest of the nation. Yes they have premier coaches and they're located in a talent pool, but that doesn't mean that the rest of the country (especially the PAC12, B1G and Big12) can't close the gap if oversigning is stopped.


January 1st, 2012 at 5:38 PM ^

Do you truly believe oversigning is the only difference between the Big Ten winning championships and the SEC sinking back to everyone else? What did Houston Nutt's 37 man class net? Florida won 2 national titles without oversigning. Georgia finished 2nd in the country without oversigning.

I'm not saying it doesn't help Bama and LSU, but it's not the only competitive issue out there for the Big Ten. Not by a long shot.

Perkis-Size Me

January 1st, 2012 at 12:57 PM ^

as long as the SEC has the ability to oversign they will hold a big advantage. i think overtime the playing field will be leveled as the ncaa will start to hammer down on this issue.

still, the sec will always have a natural advantage as the best players in the country come from the south traditionally, and schools like florida, lsu and alabama have the greatest access to them.


January 1st, 2012 at 12:58 PM ^

Yes everything about oversigning and easy admission is true, but it goes deeper. The Big Ten has been considerably more stingy than the SEC in paying both head coaches and coordinators (a trend that may be changing with UM and OSU starting to shell out more than in the past).

Arkansas is, at best, the 7th best job in that conference and they hired a guy (Petrino) away from the NFL. Hard to imagine Iowa or Illinois doing the same thing.


Maize 'n Chew

January 1st, 2012 at 1:06 PM ^

But I don't really care a ton about the B1G, as much as I do about Michigan at least.  At the beginning of the article, every time the author said "Look at..." budgets, coaching salaries, crowds, talent - I felt like M stacks up just fine.  So while I would agree that the SEC dominates other conferences, I think M should be fine so long as we dominate the B1G, which we should.  The oversigning and JUCO thing is much more clearly a problem for us specifically, but that could change.

Either way, I don't want to ride the conference's coattails.  They ought to ride ours.


January 1st, 2012 at 1:27 PM ^

This is also the way I see it.  The top teams in any conference can be national powers, even if the rest of the league isn't all that strong.  Recent examples include USC under Pete Carroll, or Miami when it was in the Big East.  I think this article has some pretty serious flaws (e.g., the suggestion that the spread "doesn't fly" in the SEC doesn't make a whole lot of sense considering that Florida and Auburn won national championships with spread offenses), but overall I think the schools that need to be concerned about SEC dominance are more the MSUs and Iowas of the world, rather than the Michigans and Ohios.


January 1st, 2012 at 5:40 PM ^

I felt it was more concerned that the author was referring to "spread to throw" schemes (Run and Shoot, Air Raid) than "spread to run" schemes (Meyer, Kelly, Rodriguez).


January 1st, 2012 at 1:35 PM ^

Like it or not, the southern states by and large have an enormous advantage in HS football talent.  It's hard to honestly compare the Midwest talent base to that of the deep south when it comes to football.  SEC schools have talented rosters.  Couple that with the win-at-all-costs mentality of most SEC schools, and this is the result.  






January 1st, 2012 at 2:34 PM ^

It says Brady Hoke makes $3.2 million a year, making him the 8th highest paid coach in all of college football. He would be worth every penny but I have no idea where they got that number. Is that right?


January 1st, 2012 at 2:55 PM ^

IMO, the reasons that the SEC has been so successful are:

1. Oversigning

2. Coaching payroll

3. Questionable academic standards

4. Spring HS football in the South

5. ESPN’s love of the SEC

6. JUCO’s

7. Medical hardships

8. Unethical treatment of marginal sophomore/junior recruits


Let’s face it, SEC stands for Stretching the Ethics Conference


January 1st, 2012 at 3:00 PM ^

There are more very large and very quick defensive linemen in SEC country than in any other part of the nation. Just check out how many DLs have been drafted out of LSU alone over the last 10 years compared to Michigan—the difference is stark.


January 1st, 2012 at 3:17 PM ^

The Whole lost to Iowa State arguement is bogus to me. Yes Alabama lost to Top Ranked LSU on there home turf and thats a more "impressive" lost on paper than OK state's lost to Iowa State. But it wouldn't matter who Ok State lost to in hindsight. The pollsters were already talking about a rematch twenty seconds after the game!!!! (At that point still 3 Undefeated Teams). But lets say Ok State beat Iowa State and lost to Oklahoma or Baylor instead... now even though thats a "quality" loss (baylor (road game) and Oklahoma (top 10 team) ) the media would have still tryed to peg a LSU-ALA rematch. The luster of the SEC helped Alabama get in... look at the numbers Ok State had a harder schedule, played more ranked teams, beat more bowl teams, and won by a greater margin... but the SEC trumped the number...


January 1st, 2012 at 3:44 PM ^

...now that ESPN and other otufits have added numerous layers to the myth,  the only direct way to start dismantling the myth of SEC superiority is to simply go out there are start beating them.

Easier said than done obviously, but it seems to me that a fair number of the so-called insiders see only the field, and push the debate regarding the strategy of schools (i.e., the oversiging, the abysmally low standards, the medical hardship, and everything else that has been mentioned already) to the backburner, for clearly this is an ethical debate to be conducted in gridiron academia, not something the NCAA should actually, you know, ask about, at least in their view. 

I think that might be an issue with the public at large too - most people just want  their team to win, and the details are unimportant (ref. file "Ohio Fans, Moral Underpinnings'), so the best way to get people to, well, "get it", is to start creating situations where SEC teams mysteriously get an 'L" here and there. Eventually, someone will wonder  what is going on inside their program...maybe. 

Roy G. Biv

January 1st, 2012 at 4:59 PM ^

Sorry if someone else has already brought it up, but I think culturally football is way more important to people in the south.  The pressure to win exerted by fans whose senses of identity and self-worth are directly proportional to the success of their favorite program is immense.  Imagine a 12-team conference where one of the more reserved fanbases would be the Buckeyes.  All the rule-dodging and truth-stretching that goes on down there is directly driven, IMO, by this pressure--totally devoid of perspective--to win.  At all costs.