I've somehow lost my old Stuntman moniker, so I've assumed a new identity. My first post concerns what I think is one of the most overlooked aspects of SEC dominance over the last several years.
Constantly we hear of the dominance of SEC speed and sometimes (and more accurately) overall athleticism and DEPTH of athleticism as the driving force behind SEC power. That is true, to an extent, but when, exactly, has the SEC NOT had the quickest, most athletic athletes in the nation? It's been a constant, but the league hasn't always dominated nationally like we have lately. What, then, is different now?
First, and this is a topic that has actually been discussed in the blogosphere a little, but not as much as I think it deserves, is the tremendous collection of coaches in this conference. Spurrier, Fulmer, Saban, Meyer, and Miles all have national championship rings. Tubberville has an undefeated season, which is something that neither Miles, Saban, nor Spurrier can claim. Richt is widely regarded as the equal of any of the coaches named above. Throw in Johnson, Croom, Brooks, and even Nutt and now Petrino and you're looking at a group that may be unmatched in the history of the country. This current collection may one day be looked at like the old crop of Bear, Butts, Dodd, Dooley, Vaught, Neyland, Dietzel, McLendon, Jordan, etc. from the 60s through 70s.
Second, and this is the point that the college football world refuses to acknowledge, is that the SEC has become a QB hotbed. I suppose the reluctance to accept this fact is because it would redefine concept of the conference as a pound it out, three yards and a cloud of dust meatgrinder. The SEC is still the home of the most violent defenses in the country and some of the most rugged games, but it's also become the home of the best group of quarterbacks in the country. A team must have good QB play to be successful on a national level. If you doubt that, ask FSU or Penn State what good tremendous defenses will do for you with a joke at QB. Check out this analysis done over at SundaymorningQB. He looks at the improvement rates of freshmen QB. The analysis itself isn't important for this post, but the names are.
The names on that list aren't all world beaters, and we mock some of them. But, realistically, that's a damn good list of college quarterbacks. Look at last year--Tebow, Stafford, Flynn, Woodson, and Ainge, to a lesser extent, lead their teams to better than expected or very successful seasons while guys like Cox, Wilson, and Dick all disappointed on otherwise talented teams. In a league where the ypg differential is so small , QB play is at a super premium. You're not going to out-athlete anyone in this league, and coaches are realizing that and are putting in the necessary resources to pull the best in the country into the conference. And it's paying off big time.
Now I'll jump off my soapbox.