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Dick Harmon: SEC, Alabama and titles? Get used to it, says book

Published: Thursday, Jan. 10 2013 9:00 a.m. MST

Alabama's Eddie Lacy (42) runs past Notre Dame's Danny Spond (13) during the first half of the BCS National Championship college football game Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, in Miami. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

David J. Phillip, AP

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Here are some simple declarations. The SEC just won its seventh straight BCS national title. That league really has become a Goliath. The system is set up for the SEC to remain the strongest college football league in the land.

When Alabama ran over Notre Dame like the Fighting Irish were mere cardboard cutouts, it was by design. Give Nick Saban time, his talent, and it is almost guaranteed.

In his book “How the SEC Became Goliath,” former Knoxville Journal sports editor Ray Glier explains how Alabama and the like play “Big Boy” football, patterned after the NFL, and that folks out this way in the Pac-12 and the Big 12 have 7-on-7 passing league teams that "highlight skill players, not brawlers." And they’ll routinely get beat in the title game by SEC teams.

The last seven BCS champs are Alabama in 2012, then Alabama, Auburn, Alabama, Florida, LSU and Florida in 2006. Get used to it.

Alabama, says Glier, will not recruit runts for anything but kicker. “Big and fast beats small and fast.” Listen up, Oregon.

Alabama’s recruiting is built from the inside out, like the NFL. It values offensive and defensive linemen higher than wide receivers and quarterbacks. “It builds muscle with a strenuous offseason program and finds high school recruits who can take tough coaching. Alabama takes the best athletes and puts them on defense,” claims the author.

This combination of speed, size and power dwarfs the Oklahomas, Ohio States and Oregons. And the money of SEC schools is significant.

With expansion, the SEC will pay out BCS and TV revenue that is estimated to grow between $25 million and $28 million to each member after adding a SEC network. This means higher coaching salaries and resources for staff and recruiting.

Glier points out median athletics spending per athlete in the SEC in 2009 was $156,833, and per student at SEC schools it was $13,471, according to the Delta Cost Project at the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C.

The median athletics spending per athlete in the Big 12 was $131,440 per athlete and $14,021 per student. In the ACC, it was $106,236 per athlete and $15,638 per student.

In the SEC, a treasure chest for assistant coaches opened up in 2009 when Tennessee paid Lane Kiffin $2 million and paid his father, Monte, the defensive coordinator, $1.2 million. Kiffin’s offensive coordinator, Ed Orgeron, made $650,000. Before Charlie Weis took the Kansas job, his contract called for him to make $850,000 in 2012 as Florida’s offensive coordinator. “At the time, Weiss’ salary was higher than that of forty-one Division I head coaches, according to data compiled by USA Today,” wrote Glier.

Before Gus Malzah left to coach Arkansas, he made $1.3 million a year as the offensive coordinator at Auburn. LSU’s D-coordinator, John Chavis, will eventually make $1.1 million and Alabama’s D-coordinator, Kirby Smart, is making almost a million a year.

“Some strength and conditioning coaches in the SEC are making $300,000 and more. SEC schools do not talk about all the personnel they have hired in the last five years in football, but some staffs have as many as twelve people devoted to strength and conditioning. It really is an arms — and legs — race in the SEC,” said Glier.

SEC recruiters travel the South in limousines and helicopters to visit high schools and make home visits. Glier cites NFL.com analyst Gil Brandt: “Six of the top ten states with the most players in the NFL, per capita, are within the SEC footprint.”

BYU just rehired Arizona line coach Robert Anae to be offensive coordinator. According to USA Today’s 2011 data, these Wildcats of the Pac-12 paid their staff $2.9 million. “Alabama paid its staff $8.5 million. Look at a smaller revenue SEC school, such as Arkansas. The Razorbacks still paid their staff $3 million more than Arizona State, another Pac-12 school.”

Conclusion: The SEC is winning the arms race for money, facilities and recruits. Its schools are getting the very best defensive and offensive linemen who, as you saw Monday night in Miami, can dominate a game and make players like Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o irrelevant.

We haven’t even got into infractions, cheating, allegations of paying players, probation, et cetera, of which the SEC has had its share. Glier’s book gets into all this. It is a good read.

It is just time to realize a huge truth about college football. There is the SEC, then there are other leagues who are trying to sprint in a race that’s a marathon and they are miles and miles behind in just about every measure one can count.

Thus, a seventh straight BCS national title for a SEC school last Monday night.

Get used to it. That is the game.

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