By: Chad Wilson – Editor GridironStuds Blog
The SEC is the talk of college football, let’s be honest about that. Either you are talking about how they are the best conference in college football or you are complaining about how the media has a SEC bias. One way or another, if you are talking college football, you are talking about the SEC at some point in your conversation. A recent trip through some SEC schools shed some light on why that might be the case.
I recently took a whirlwind tour through six SEC schools (LSU, BAMA, Auburn, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida) in seven days and learned some important things about football in the SEC as a result. I will share those things with you in the article below.
1. Winning In College Football is About Money
The biggest thing that stood out to me during the exhaustive tour through the SEC schools was that if takes a lot of money to be at the top of college football. When you tour the facilities, listen to the presentations and take note of all of the services being offered to the athletes, you realize that you aren’t going to get it done on the college gridiron on a short budget. One of the major reasons why the SEC is talked about is that they care a lot about their football and in return it brings in a lot of cash. From underwater treadmills to round the clock dining, college football athletes are “pampered” for lack of a better word. They want for nothing in this conference which makes those who blow the opportunity even more mind boggling. I will spare you the “in my day” speech from a 43 year old but will say, things have changed mightily in college football through the years.
2. Indoor Practice Facility is A Must
Ask any meteorologist and they will tell you that weather is not an easy thing to predict. It’s even more difficult to work around as mother nature does not have a suggestion box. With this being the case, if you want to get the most out of your allotted time with your football team per NCAA rules, it is in your best interest to have an indoor practice facility. Not having an indoor facility is like having a Maserati and no garage to put it in. It’s hot in the South (yeah no $#@% Chad) and not only does an indoor practice facility protect you from the rain but it gives you a great option to escape the heat at times and get a little bit more work done in the shade than the next school who may not have one. It’s also a great place to house a couple hundred campers and their parents for part of a camp. Five of the six schools visited had indoor facilities completed and the other (Florida) will have one completed in a month’s time.
3. Florida is the Arms Dealer of the South
One thing was present at each of the schools visited; there was a Floridian on site. In the SEC, you either have a coach from Florida, players from Florida on the roster, hosting players from Florida or all of the above. If you are in the SEC and you are not heavily invested in the Sunshine State then you are trying to become a millionaire by investing in CD’s while everyone else is in stocks and real estate. Check your top teams in the SEC. Many, if not all, have a dynamic player or players from the state of Florida. It would explain why every staff has someone who is an excellent recruiter with ties to Florida and why each of these SEC schools will do all that it can to get Florida athletes on their campuses during the crucial summer months. Now the Florida angle should come as a shock to no one in the Florida area or the South for that matter but a trip to these schools sure drove that point home.
4. Construction is the Function
I’ve been visiting SEC schools for the last three years now and I can’t recall ever stepping foot on the campus of any of the schools without there being some type of construction going on involving the football program. If they aren’t building new dorms for the players, they are building a new weight room or a new locker room or as in Florida’s case an indoor practice facility. One thing you can count on every summer at a SEC school and that’s a hard hat and fluorescent vest being present around the football facility. Every year there’s something new like Apple Inc. You better have something new going up every year or in blueprint to show recruits or you run the risk of looking like your program is dying. Build or fold.
There are a host of other things that you learn when you tour college football programs like I recently did but I would have to say that the 3 factors I outlined really stood out to me. Perhaps, in time, I will share with my readers some other things I learned on this trip as it is always enlightening no matter how many times you take the trip.
About the Author
Chad Wilson is a recruiting expert and owner of GridironStuds.com a website devoted to promoting the talents of youth and high school football players. Wilson is a former college football player for the University of Miami (92-94) and Long Beach St. (’90-’91) and played briefly for the Seattle Seahawks (’95). He is also a high school football coach and father of three kids, two of which are college student athletes and another well on his way. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.