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The SEC vs the Miami Hurricanes

The SEC is a power football conference.  Historically, draft picks out of the SEC have typically been good investments for NFL clubs.  The last five years, the college football title has been won by an SEC team.  To date, none of those programs have been caught breaking a rule that would jepordize their accomplishments.  It may just be a matter of time, but in the interim, it must be assumed that these programs are clean, however foolish that may sound.  To recap, SEC programs are, on average, great at football, and great at not being caught for expressly illegal NCAA violations.  They have also been good at putting their stars at the next level.

But are SEC players somehow less inclined to be superstars than players from the ACC or the Pac 10 12.  The SEC and the Big Ten, the historically dominant football conferences, didn’t place a whole bunch of players on the NFL players Top 100 list.  Just 13% of the list came out of the SEC, which is the exact same number that came out of the Big Ten.  I think it was assumed that the Big Ten has been down of recent, and that’s a conference that dominated the list of lineman (Jake Long, Nick Mangold, Joe Thomas…I didn’t put Carl Nicks of Nebraska on the Big Ten ledger, but I suppose you could…as long as you also give Mike Vick to the ACC), and lineman are generally underrepresented on this list.  This list could have included any of the following: David Diehl, Steve Hutchinson, Jeff Backus, Matt Light, Kareem McKenzie, Uche Nwaneri, etc, and the Big Ten would have had better representation on this list.

So this is pretty interesting, in the “rather unimportant” way.

The list is far from perfect, and thus this point is far from perfect — and I’ll poke a few holes in it in a minute — but lets put some context around how rough the SEC did.  Here is the entire list of players who made the NFL top 100 list and played in the SEC Conference:

Tennessee (6): Peyton Manning, Top 10; Arian Foster, 25; Jason Witten, 36;
Jerod Mayo, 62; Eric Berry, 93; Chad Clifton, 99
Mississippi (1): Patrick Willis, 23
LSU (1): Dwayne Bowe, 45
Georgia (2): Champ Bailey, 48; Richard Seymour, 66
South Carolina (1): John Abraham, 69
Auburn (1): Jay Ratliff, 75
Arkanas (1): Darren McFadden, 98
Total: 13

And here is complete list of just one team — the Miami Hurricanes — on the same list:

The University of Miami, Top Rated Players on NFL Top 100 List:

Andre Johnson, Top 10
Ray Lewis, Top 10
Ed Reed, Top 10
Reggie Wayne, 31
Devin Hester, 32
Vince Wilfork, 35
Jonathon Vilma, 37
Antrel Rolle, 68
Frank Gore, 94
Jon Beason, 95
Total: 10

Furthermore, the distribution of the list works against the SEC.  Here’s your comparison, which someone savvier than me would have put into a histogram:

  • Top 10: ‘Canes 3, SEC 1*
  • 11-25: SEC 2, ‘Canes 0
  • 26-50: ‘Canes 4, SEC 3
  • 51-75: SEC 4, ‘Canes 1
  • 76-100: SEC 3, ‘Canes 2

*The SEC is likely to have the highest rated player in the comparison (Peyton Manning).

Maybe the most embarassing part for the SEC is that, very legitimately, if this had been a Top 50 NFL Players list, Miami actually does better in terms of both total number of occurances (7-6), and distribution (40% of occurances in the top 10).  Now, obviously, by increasing the sample size to be more meaningful, eventually 12 football powerhouses are going to dwarf the U in terms of NFL contribution, making this comparison relatively meaningless.

Then there’s the fact that Ray Lewis, who is still probably a top 100 player, is heavily overrated in the top 10.  Antrel Rolle shouldn’t be on a Top 500 list considering that he’s probably the third best safety on a team that had a weakness against the deep pass in 2010.  Vilma is a very good linebacker, though probably not a top 50 (or even top 100) NFL player.  There are better LBs than Jon Beason who didn’t make this list.  There would seemingly be a pro-Hurricane bias in the player voting.

The SEC is better than is represented here, and it’s certainly not the only large college conference that didn’t do as well as it would have hoped.  Outside of the ACC and Pac 12, I don’t know if any conference had a particularly impressive showing.  But it’s not just the bottom of the SEC that had the problem here (Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Kentucky have no representation).  Alabama and Florida don’t have a player on the list.  LSU, who has been running a pro style scheme since the Saban days, has one player (Bowe), and he’s one of many questionable receiver picks.  I can’t even say with confidence that Dwayne Bowe is the best LSU player currently in the NFL (that’s probably LaRon Landry or Andrew Whitworth).  He’s just the only one on the list.

Florida, I believe, will be on the board within the next year or so as players like Aaron Hernandez and Joe Haden get more notoriety.  But basically, Phillip Fulmer is personally responsible for pretty much all of the SEC’s contribution to the NFL Top 100 list.  It’s hardly conclusive from this list, but despite the ability of SEC Coaches to recruit the best athletes in the world to play football for them, and their ability to prepare them to be solid NFL draft picks, it’s worth wondering if something in their college development is preventing the SEC from producing Patrick Willis’ and Jerod Mayo’s with regularity.  Because in the last ten years, Corey Webster and Carlos Rogers types have proved far more common for teams using high picks on SEC talents.


					
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