After going 0-2 in BCS games, including Auburn’s loss to Florida State for the national title, perception of the SEC being the nation’s top football conference has taken a bit of a hit.
The two losses have prompted some college football fans, as well as some prominent members of the national media, to question the legitimacy of the SEC’s perceived superiority. Some have even gone as far as to call the conference “overrated.”
It seems the time is ripe for another SEC chest-thumping session. And why not?
Despite these two losses, the Southeastern Conference is still the top conference in the land, and here are five reasons why:
1. Seven Straight National Titles
Florida State’s big win over Auburn was impressive, but it didn’t magically erase the SEC’s unprecedented string of seven straight national titles. Such an incredible streak likely won’t be matched, and it shouldn’t be forgotten any time soon.
While raising the crystal football is certainly a difficult feat, merely reaching the national title game is an accomplishment worthy of recognition. In the last eight seasons, nine SEC teams have played for the national championship. Nine.
2. Bowl Record
Racking up national championships allows for potent ammunition regarding conference supremacy, but a look at overall conference bowl records makes for another compelling argument for the SEC.
Despite the Auburn and Alabama losses, SEC teams still went 7-3 in bowl games this year, which was the best record of any BCS conference. The fact that the conference regularly sends nine or 10 teams to bowl games can’t be overlooked either.
3. NFL Draft
There’s not a better validation of football talent than being selected in the NFL draft. While the draft obviously can’t be used to grade any particular SEC team, it does speak for the sheer amount of skill stockpiled in the conference.
In the 2013 draft, 32 of the first 97 selections were SEC players. The league finished with 63 players drafted, shattering the record for most draftees from a single conference. These numbers are extremely difficult to argue against, and they offer significant insight into how the SEC’s players are viewed by expert talent evaluators at the game’s highest level.
4. High School Recruiting
Recruiting is not an exact science, and numerous highly ranked players don’t pan out the way their high school ratings suggest. That being said, the SEC reels in top-rated classes at an astounding clip.
According to Rivals.com, the SEC hauled in five of the top ten classes in 2013, as well as seven of the top 12, and eight of the top 16. Such an overall collection of talent for a single conference can’t be scoffed at. The SEC consistently dominates on the recruiting front.
5. Top 25 Rankings
In the past few seasons, the rankings in weekly polls have begun to mirror the recruiting rankings: it’s not uncommon to see five SEC teams ranked near the Top 10 at any given time.
As a result, there is no shortage of important nationally-hyped showdowns between highly ranked SEC teams. Such games help place the conference in the national spotlight, which in turn helps recruiting. For the other major conferences, this makes for quite the vicious cycle.
In the coming 2014 season, there will no doubt be claims that the SEC is down, or that some other conference has taken over college football. And just like in the recent past, those claims will be baseless.
Conference supremacy isn’t determined by one or two games. Bowl records, NFL talent and national titles should all be factored in.
When applying all these factors to the current landscape of college football, it becomes increasingly apparent that the Southeastern Conference is second to none.