The SEC is widely recognized as the most desired destination for players and coaches in college football. Without question, the SEC continuously produces NFL level talent. They produce this talent at such a high percentage for many reasons, but the relative location of the schools in the SEC to the top talent in the country is most likely the greatest contributor to the conference’s success.
That said, there are plenty of college football programs outside of the SEC whose relevance rivals that of the SEC. In fact, if one were to strip away the conference moniker and take a look at the just the programs, there are plenty of schools that rival top SEC teams.
Yes, there have been four football teams from the SEC that have won national titles in the last 10 years, but the fact that they won a national title has less to do with being a member of the conference and more to do with the location of the schools.
The LSU Tigers, the Florida Gators, the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers have national championship trophies. States like Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida are hotbeds for recruiting, and being close to home is often a great draw for student-athletes and their parents.
One might say that any school from those regions has a very high chance of securing the talented recruits necessary to win a national championship much like the Florida State Seminoles, an ACC school, have done this season.
With all of the talent in present in the south the most lucrative program in the country, the Texas Longhorns are ready to hire a new coach and begin gathering that vital talent for a run at a national championship. Where are the Longhorns going to go to find their next head coach? Many are speculating that the Big Ten has more than one coach that may be on a list of potential candidates for the Texas job.
Pat Fitzgerald is a less likely candidate today than he was at the beginning of the season for a few reasons. First is his team’s inability to recover from two tough early-season losses against very tough teams. Now that the school has shown its commitment to its coach, who is also an alumni of the university, he may be more inclined to stay put.
That said, Fitzgerald is very highly regarded by his players and is an outstanding recruiter. If Fitzgerald would be willing to leave Northwestern and the Longhorns wanted him, he would be a home run hire.
Mark Dantonio of the Michigan State Spartans is a tough individual to read. Dantonio shows little emotion and holds his cards very close to his chest. It could be argued that Dantonio’s stock could not get much higher as his team is the current Big Ten champions and is preparing for a Rose Bowl game. Dantonio could introduce his hard-nosed defensive game plans to the state of Texas, where fans may not need flashy offense if they get perennial national title contending teams.
The coach who is perhaps most likely to get the job is the savior of State College, Penn State‘s Bill O’Brien. What O’Brien has done for the Nittany Lions has been amazing, and he has saved a program from ruins in a remarkably quick fashion.
Not only has O’Brien proved to be a great motivator by getting the most out of each and every player, he has also overcome sanctions put on the Penn State program. O’Brien has also been able to recruit top-notch talent to Penn State even in the shadows of the scandal that took place in Happy Valley.
Any of the three men would be sorely missed by their respective Big Ten school if they are offered the likely extremely lucrative job in the hotbed of talent that is the south.