The numbers are staggering: five national titles in row, a 7-0 record in the 13 BCS Championship Games, and five different schools who have won a national crown during those 13 years. The Auburn Tigers became the latest SEC squad to win it all, with their last-second win over Oregon in the BCS Championship Game. Six different SEC teams have played in BCS bowls over the past four seasons, and the league has gone 6-2 in eight games. While some conferences have one or two teams who can play at the most elite level of college football, half of the SEC has been on the top tier in recent seasons. We have written many times over the years about the SEC being America’s toughest football conference, and the proof continues each year.
We at Swampland are also proud to be one of the few outlets that called the Gene Chizik hire a quality one while critics screamed from all over the nation. We knew how tough the rebuilding job at Iowa State (ever been to Ames, IA?) would be for anybody, and that his win-loss record there was no indication of how he would perform on the Plains. Those same critics forget that he did not lose a game in 2004 (Auburn) or 2005 (Texas) as the defensive coordinator at two blue-chip programs in our Footprint. Chizik made great decisions on assistant coaches, bringing in quality coordinators on offense (Gus Malzahn) and defense (Ted Roof). He also improved recruiting, and the combination of solid moves carried Auburn to their second national title in school history and their first national crown since the Shug Jordan-led Tigers won it in 1957.
With the season complete, the focus now turns to recruiting. We stress the importance of National Signing Day every February, and are continually amazed when national pundits do not understand the critical nature of the recruiting season. Every coach in our Swampland Footprint knows that talent accrual will decide his fate in the end, and many of the biggest rivalry battles are won on signing day.
Recruiting is also the first opportunity for the new head coaches to prove themselves to hungry-for-good news fan bases. Will Muschamp should do well in the Sunshine State, but Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher has won many of the top in-state recruiting battles over the last two winters. New Miami boss Al Golden will compete with Muschamp and Fisher as he tries to take the Canes from good to great again.