Monday, November 02, 2009

Sunshine and SEC Football   posted by dkane @ 11/02/2009 07:35:00 AM

The cover story for Sports Illustrated two weeks ago described the dominance of the South Eastern Conference (SEC) in US college football.

"More players are invited to the NFL combine each year from the SEC than from any other conference," Ole Miss's [Head Coach] Nutt says when asked about the quality of the athletes who compete in the league. "The most players drafted just about every year going back 10 years come from the SEC." Indeed, dating to the 2000 NFL draft, the conference has had 400 players selected; the next-best league is the ACC, with 364.

It's no mystery to Nutt why an SEC team has won the BCS national championship each of the last three years (Florida in 2006 and 2008, LSU in 2007) and is favored to produce the champ again this season. "I watch [teams in] other conferences all the time and I think, Boy, I'd like to play them," Nutt says.

But, for GNXP readers, this is the most fun comment.

It all starts with recruiting. Nutt says that players from the South, particularly those who reside in Florida, become better college players than kids from other parts of the country, though he can't explain why. "Maybe it's the sunshine," he says. "In any given year an average of 335 young men [from Florida] sign with Division I schools. When I was coaching at Murray State [in Kentucky], I remember going to Florida and seeing, maybe, coaches from Wake Forest down there. But now? You've got Wisconsin, Minnesota, Purdue, Virginia, Virginia Tech. You've got schools from North Carolina. They're all down there, and they're coming for the speed. We signed nine from Florida this year. Nine!"

Yeah! It's the "sunshine" that causes the "quality of the athletes" in the SEC. Caste Football calculates that the percentage of white starters at SEC teams is 25%, lower than any other major conference.

Of course, from a GNXP point of view, sunshine may be actually have played a role, but not in the way that Nutt implies . . .