Reigning SEC champion Auburn finished with the ninth-ranked recruiting class in the nation, according to Rivals.com. But the Tigers finished seventh in the SEC and fourth in their own division. That illustrates the ultra-competitive nature of SEC recruiting.
The only non-SEC teams to finish in the Rivals top ten are Ohio State, Florida State and USC. Kentucky, which has been the worst team in the league over the past several seasons, finished with the 17th-ranked class. To put that in perspective, the Wildcats’ class would have ranked second in the Big Ten, second in the Big 12, and third in the Pac 12. Last year it was Ole Miss with a surprising top-five class. Who knows which school it will be next year?
Following Florida State’s 34-31 BCS Championship victory, a feeling that the SEC’s reign of dominance had ended began to emerge. For example, this article from claims that SEC dominance was “put to bed” by the Seminoles’ victory.
I’m sure coaches, fans and supporters of other leagues want that narrative to be reality, but any illusions of the SEC’s dominance in college football coming to a close in the near future are pure fantasy. The recruiting classes signed by SEC schools Wednesday prove it.
Alabama and LSU finished with the consensus top two classes. Once again, these two teams are going to be forces to be reckoned with in future seasons. And oh yeah, Auburn just won the SEC Championship and appeared in the BCS Championship Game. They’re not going anywhere either. Texas A&M also finished with a top five class. And that is just — just — the SEC West.
In the East, Florida finished with a consensus top 10 class, which is much-needed given the heat on Will Muschamp right now. Tennessee has seen some down years lately, but Butch Jones completed a top five class this year. Georgia and South Carolina both had tremendous classes also.
It’s cliché and seemingly hyperbolic to say that competing in the SEC is similar to an NFL team’s schedule. But if you look at the last 10 years of play and recruiting classes, it’s difficult to disagree with that characterization.
Are recruiting rankings the standard? Of course not. In fact, it’s fair to speculate that many of the high-profile athletes signed Wednesday will never play a down at their respective schools for various reasons. However, for every four or five-star athlete signed by most teams in other leagues, SEC schools signed three or four. So when the attrition comes, SEC teams have more depth from which to draw.
That is why the SEC’s dominance in college football is not a myth. Aside from the fact that SEC teams routinely beat non-conference opponents in neutral site contests and bowl games, SEC teams are stronger, faster, and bigger from the top to the bottom of the depth chart. National Signing Days like Wednesday are the reason for that.
It was the same way last year and has been for the better part of the past decade. And the SEC will be on top again next February. The passion of the fans, resources of the schools, and traditions built over time in the SEC will not be paralleled or overtaken anytime soon. Most importantly, the winning won’t either.