Where does it end? This is the question that I asked myself when news broke today of Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban hiring Florida State Seminoles tight ends coach Billy Napier a month after he was hired in Tallahassee. This move came in the same 7-day period that ‘Bama hired Mario Cristobal from his alma mater at Miami before he too was able to coach a game.
These moves, and a few others, make us just want to throw our hands up at the SEC and just say “we surrender”.
With National Signing Day recently behind us, we were once again reminded of the popularity and dominance of the SEC. With Alabama stacking up once again, the Ole Miss Rebels flexing their new found muscle, and LSU Tigers coach Les Miles gathering up his usual crop of stellar athletes, it’s hard not to realize that this is the place where all of the players want to be.
The level of play in the SEC undoubtedly gets players primed and ready for a career in the NFL. This is an unmistakable fact that we’ve realized for the better part of the last decade. But now, we may be seeing a new trend that also can be considered a no-brainer. The SEC isn’t only a coveted destination for the players doing the work on the field, but now also for the brains behind the operation. And, all for different reasons.
In the cases of Cristobal and Napier, these moves to Tuscaloosa are obvious smart choices. Both men have bright futures as head coaches in the world of college football that we all love so dearly. To be able to go and hone your talent with someone that coaches on the level that Nick Saban does is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Some people in the Florida State and Miami fan bases felt spurned by the sudden departures of these men, and in a way that is understandable considering the passion we have for our programs. But I urge you to sit down, put yourself in their shoes, and tell me you wouldn’t do the same exact thing.
But, it’s not just young upstart coaches that are swayed by the glitz and glamour that is deep-south college football. Look at the case of Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Bret Bielema. As recently as last year, the former Wisconsin Badgers head coach would take subtle jabs at the power conference. In reference to Ohio State Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer‘s recruiting tactics, Bielema stuck up for the Big Ten Conference by saying “We at the Big Ten don’t want to be like the SEC in any way, shape, or form”.
On December 4, 2012, it seems that Coach Bielema had a sudden change of heart and now wanted to not only “be like the SEC”, he wanted to flat-out get into bed with it. And, he did just that by shocking his long time employer in Madison, Wisconsin and accepting the job at Arkansas. And again, the explanation is simple. In today’s world, the SEC gives him the best chance to add a national championship to his already impressive resume’.
The SEC is the hottest thing going today in college football, if not all of sports. Although joking (I think), we sometimes wonder aloud whether or not the best SEC team in a given year can beat the bottom of the NFL barrel. Whether we like it or not, it’s an SEC world and we’re just living in it. Will the reign end someday? Of course it will. All good things eventually come to an end. Just please, don’t tell Nick Saban that, or he will steal a coordinator from your school while you’re not looking.