I used to debate with a former friend each week during college football season about how great the SEC was and all other football conferences couldn’t carry any of the 14 SEC team’s helmet on the playing field.
The conversation was heated all the time and the language was much more severe than that – if you know what I mean.
The SEC has been the media darling of the college scene for the better part of a decade, producing some amazing games, amazing teams and amazing players. This season, however, things might change. New quarterbacks, new faces, more recruits and a greater chance for a team to come from the bottom of either division and present a challenge to the big boys that are expected to be in the hunt for a conference title.
The possibility of the SEC as a whole to be slightly “down” this year, it presents an opportunity for another conference to step up and move closer toward the top of the collegiate food chain and a possible national title. Here are a few things to ponder when deciding which of the conferences are second best.
THE PAC-12 IS THE NEW ARMS RACE
Take a look everywhere on the west coast and there is a quarterback with a cannon arm. It starts with Marcus Mariota at Oregon. Then you can select Brett Hundley of UCLA, Sean Mannion of Oregon State, Kevin Hogan of Stanford and Taylor Kelly of Arizona State. And those are the five quarterbacks that are most talked about. Remember, last season we talked about five or six quarterbacks in the SEC, but all of them have moved on.
A TOUGHER ACC
Florida State is still the best team in college football until they are proven differently. They should be favored in every game they play this season. This season, the ACC has better talent and teams that can play anyone on any given Saturday. Louisville and Bobby Petrino have come to the conference. North Carolina and Virginia Tech are better this year. Miami could be a sleeper and Duke must prove it can win without its offensive coordinator. When all was said and done last year, the SEC was the better conference. FSU was the better team.
IT ISN’T JUST OHIO STATE
The one thing left on Urban Meyer’s resume he has not accomplished is a national title in Columbus. After two national titles at Florida – which is an SEC school, Meyer took a year off to take his “Dream Job,” which is the same thing he said about Florida. Meyer has plenty of talent and a quarterback in Braxton Miller whom he proclaimed to be the best player he has ever coached (um, didn’t he say that about Tim Tebow?). Meyer has company this season with Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska all having a say in who will win the Big Ten.
OKLAHOMA IS REALLY GOOD
It could be another high time in Norman this season. Oklahoma is a team looking for someone to knock the Everready off its shoulder. Strong from top to bottom and loaded on defense, this is a team that seems to have few flaws. Watching them in the Sugar Bowl when they BEAT not upset Alabama, was a statement about the coaching and talent the Sooners possess. While Oklahoma appears to be a consensus top five team, Baylor, Texas and Oklahoma State will all have a say in just how good the Sooners are.