MIAMI -- The arrogance of SEC football is astonishing, and I say that not only as a card-carrying member of CBS, home of SEC football, but also as a graduate of the University of Florida. Hey, just being honest. That's my story. That's my background. Those are my influences.
But here is the truth:
The SEC and its backers, and by extension the Florida Gators and their backers, are convinced the Gators will beat Oklahoma in the BCS title game Thursday because Oklahoma, stuck there in the Big 12, has never seen a defense like Florida's.
|Keeping the Sooners away from this piece of real estate will be difficult. Really difficult. (AP)|
But it completely ignores the other side of the story, and that's my problem with the arrogance of SEC football. It doesn't acknowledge the other side. It doesn't even seem aware that there is another side. But there is. Oklahoma is on the other side.
And while it's true that Oklahoma hasn't seen a defense like Florida's ...
It's just as true that Florida hasn't seen an offense like Oklahoma's.
Hell, nobody has. Until this season, an offense like Oklahoma's didn't exist. The Sooners throw the ball like BYU back in the day when BYU was breaking every passing record known to man, but the Sooners run the ball like a wishbone team. They have thrown 49 touchdowns. They have run for 45 touchdowns.
They have a 4,000-yard quarterback.
They have two 1,000-yard running backs.
History will show that this collection of offensive talent was among the best in college football history. We're too close right now to see it, but in time, we'll understand. Southern California a few years ago was pretty special when it had Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush and LenDale White and all those NFL receivers and even that NFL tight end.
But Oklahoma is special, too. Whenever he turns pro, even if it's this season, redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Bradford could be the No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick. Running backs DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown, each with 1,000 yards this season, will play in the NFL. Murray will miss the BCS title game with an injury, but third-string running back Mossis Madu is sensational. Tight end Jermaine Gresham isn't just a future NFL player, but a future NFL star. Receivers Juaquin Iglesias, Manuel Johnson and Ryan Broyles will play in the NFL, too.
But all the attention is on Florida's defense. The Sooners have never faced a defense like this. Blah. And blah. And blah.
Here's the other side of that argument: Florida's defense has no idea what it's up against, either. None. The Gators' defense is undoubtedly good -- I'm not calling Florida a fraud -- but understand for a minute how lame the average SEC offense has been this season. Florida has faced just one quarterback, Georgia's Matt Stafford, who will play in the NFL. Just one. The only other quarterback in the SEC who could compete for a starting job at any of the top 10 offenses in the Big 12 -- and he's not good enough to compete at the top Big 12 schools, like Oklahoma or Texas or Texas Tech ... or at Missouri or Kansas -- is Jevan Snead of Ole Miss.
Which unit is more formidable?
Total Votes: 13,991
And we all know what Ole Miss did to Florida.
That's the untold story. Meanwhile, Big 12 defenses are being skewered by SEC mouthpieces. Look at all the yards the Big 12 gives up. Look at all the points. Look, look, look.
Fine. Let's look. But understand what we're seeing. There's an unwinnable chicken-or-egg argument here -- are Big 12 defenses down because Big 12 offenses are up, or vice versa? -- but let's look at the quarterbacks of the Big 12. And let's look at the offenses.
Sam Bradford won the Heisman Trophy. Colt McCoy of Texas and Graham Harrell of Texas Tech were among the top contenders this season. Chase Daniel of Missouri and Todd Reesing of Kansas were among the top contenders last season. Joe Ganz of Nebraska completed 68 percent of his passes, and you've never heard of him. Baylor has a budding superstar in Robert Griffin. He's 11th in the league in passing. Kansas State has a first-day NFL Draft pick in Josh Freeman. He's seventh.
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The problem with Big 12 defense isn't really Big 12 defense. It's Big 12 offense -- the quality, yes, but also the pace. See, Big 12 offenses use the spread and the hurry-up and basically do whatever they can to elongate the game, creating more snaps for themselves, yes, but more snaps for the other team, too. Look at it like this, and get ready, because this analogy comes from the NFL: Once upon a time, a 1,000-yard rushing season was the benchmark of greatness in the NFL. But then the season grew from 12 games to 14 games to 16 games, and now you sort of have to suck to start at running back in the NFL and not run for 1,000 yards.
It's the same thing, in reverse, for Big 12 defenses. The game is longer in that league. Offenses stretch it out, turning 60 minutes into something closer to 70. Yes, that skews the great offensive numbers being put up in the Big 12 -- but it also skews the sub-par defensive numbers. It's simply not fair, to anyone, to compare Big 12 defenses to SEC defenses, because that's like comparing the rushing stats of NFL running backs in 1972 to those in 2008.
So I'm done, and the point of this is not to predict that Oklahoma will beat Florida. Honestly, I have no idea who will win. This game will be sensational, that's all I know. But the arrogant assumption that Florida's defense will be the difference makes me giggle.
Because the truth is, the difference really could be Florida's defense.
After it gets its ass kicked by the best offense in college football history.