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Wednesday, August 14, 2013
'Respect' is the sentiment for the SEC

By Edward Aschoff

SEC word cloud
Apart from the "overrated" crowd, it appears the rest of college football is in awe of the SEC.

For the SEC, it's all about R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Forget about the seven straight BCS titles, the record 63 SEC players taken in this year's NFL draft and the freak athletes. You simply can't spell "respect" without S-E-C. Coincidence? I think not.

But don't take my word for it, just look above and you'll see all the nice things players in other conferences had to say about the one conference that rules them all. During media days for all the major conferences, ESPN.com talked to players to get their thoughts on the leagues around them. Info was taken for the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC, which you can see by clicking here.

It was fun to hear SEC players give their thoughts on opposing conferences. We heard a lot of "Oregon," when asking about the Pac-12, but my favorite was "I don't like Kansas."

It was also interesting to see what other players had to say about the SEC. Let's dive into a few:

Powerhouse: No surprise here. The SEC has been the class of college football during the BCS era and has captured the past seven BCS titles. The SEC is 9-1 all time in BCS national championships, with the only loss coming when Alabama beat LSU in 2011. Since the SEC's championship run began in 2006, only Oregon has come within double digits of an SEC team in the national championship, when the Ducks lost to Auburn 22-19 at the end of the 2010 season. The SEC has had four Heisman Trophy winners during its run, has gone 42-22 in bowl games and is 10-4 in BCS games. That's pretty powerful.

Fast: From a physical standpoint, this is the most common description of SEC players. Speed kills and it has been a big reason the SEC has overmatched its nonconference foes. The SEC has the luxury of recruiting all these speedy studs from just around the corner from campus, and they seem to grow on trees down this way. An advantage for that homegrown talent is that it gets to train year-round thanks to the accommodating weather.

Top-heavy: This really has been a big topic of conversation of late. The SEC has won seven straight national championships, but four teams -- Alabama, Auburn, Florida and LSU -- have won them and Alabama is looking to win its third straight and fourth in the past five years. Four schools fired head coaches because of sub-.500 records in 2012. But the SEC also saw five teams win at least 10 games and all nine bowl teams finished with winning records. Seven SEC teams finished the 2012 season ranked in the Associated Press top 25, including five in the top 10. Both led the country and the SEC went 6-3 in bowl games. Not enough? Well, since 2006, the SEC has had 58 teams finish the season, including the postseason, with a winning record. That leads all conferences. You can read more about all of this top-heavy talk here.

Overrated: You can see above, but I think the SEC's recent championship run should really excuse this argument all together. If the SEC is overrated then someone needs to beat an SEC team in a big game. But that just hasn't happened ...

Best conference in college football: Even with all the overrated and top-heavy talk, there are still players (who actually play the game) out there who feel the SEC is the best. Going 32-15 against the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 in bowl games since 2006 certainly increases your swag among players.

Alabama: When you win three of the past four national championships in dominating fashion and are picked by many to win your third straight, you tend to get a lot of love. That rough, tough, shove-it-down-your-throat style that Alabama has perfected just screams "SEC." Oh, and the 100 national championships claimed by fans helps, too.

Florida: The Gators' 10 appearances in the SEC championship game since its creation in 1992 leads the conference. The Gators played in the first five and their .700 winning percentage (7-3) is the best in the SEC. And who could forget Steve Spurrier and his dominant teams from the '90s? During his 12 years as Florida's coach, the Gators won 10 or more games nine times.

Johnny Manziel/Jadeveon Clowney: These are arguably the two most recognizable players in the sport. While Manziel is wrapped in plenty of controversy, he still became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy last year, while Clowney is the nation's most dominant defender and might be the best overall player in the country.