Virtual Draft Day – Sense of Normalcy
The Virtual NFL Draft went off without a hitch. The first night was a resounding success. People got to see all the coaches and general managers making selections in the comfort of their homes, surrounded by their families. Personally, it was awesome. You got to see the players get the word about their draft position, also with all their friends and family present. Dare I say, I enjoyed watching this one the most. The players weren’t dressed to the hilt, flashing bling bling. They were simply surrounded by the important people in their life.
Once again, the SEC in all their glory led the way in selections, followed by the B1G, the Pac-12 then the little ole ACC. The SEC had 63 selections compared to 27 for the ACC, led by LSU’s 14 and Alabama with 9. No, this isn’t going to be a team by team comparison between the two conferences. Everyone knows the SEC is the best conference in college football. However, let’s soften the blow a little bit with regards to the disparity.
Let’s face it. There are dozens of reasons why the SEC is able to recruit the best athletes in the country; prestige, winning, money, facilities, lineage, better coaching, etc, etc. If it’s been said one time it’s been said a million times, players want to go to college to play football as a stepping stone to the NFL. The media, the fans, the coaches, the players all play up the SEC as the best way to get to the NFL. It all started back in 2008 when ESPN struck a deal with the SEC to promote the conference. The initial deal was for 15 years worth more than $2 Billion.
“This agreement makes the SEC the most widely distributed conference in the country,” said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive.
This agreement was the beginning of the end of parity in college football. Yes, other conferences ended up getting their own network. The B1G 10 got the Big 10 Network, Texas got a guaranteed TV contract with ESPN, and eventually, ESPN helped launch the ACC Network. However, the SEC had a head start.
The fact of the matter is, money drives everything from facilities to coaches to recruiting. It’s all connected. Recruiting includes all these factors. Money is used to upgrade facilities and hire better coaches, which is exactly the advantage the SEC has had for a while now, and continues to have. Clemson rules the ACC. There is no other way to put it. It all starts with coaching, roster management, and ultimately, recruiting. You got to recruit the players. You’ve got to have the coaches and the facilities to draw the players, to keep the best talent home. The powers that be continue to promote the SEC as top dog. Kids can read, parents can read. Look at the numbers. SEC 63, B1G 48, PAC-12 32, and the ACC 27 (plus 6 from Notre Dame). In 2019, similar numbers; SEC 64, B1G 40, PAC-12 33, ACC 28. “Second verse, same as the first.” However, something has changed since 2018. In 2018, the SEC once again led the way with 53, but the
ACC was second with 45. Why the disparity over the last two years? Coaching changes at Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, UNC, Louisville, Virginia, and Virginia Tech.
In a comparison of coaching salaries, there IS no comparison. Dabo Swinney is the highest paid coach in college football, followed by Nick Saban. In 2019, the ACC as a conference had 2 coaches in the Top 25, and one of them, Willie Taggart, was let go. In comparison, the SEC had 7 in the top 25 and the B1G had 9. Call it what you want, but TV money plays a big part in recruiting and coaching, which leads to development. In summary, there is more to the NFL draft than simply which conference has the most selections. It’s a combination of things; young teams, new coaches, coaches salaries, roster management, ability to recruit. In 2019, Clemson had a roster of 80+ freshmen and sophomores, The upperclassmen they did have, 7 were drafted and a couple of more will more than likely sign as free agents. Clemson has the coaches, the facilities, and the talent. They have everything the SEC uses for their success. The problem is, the rest of the ACC is playing catch up. The ACC Network will help with the money part of the catch-up. Mack Brown’s return has energized North Carolina. Scott Satterfield at Louisville and Mike Norvell at Florida State are moves in the right direction. The ACC outside of Clemson must start showing up for nationally televised out of conference games. When they do this, the players will begin to come back to the ACC.
Move over Coronavirus, you’ve had your time. America needs normalcy. The 2020 NFL Draft is a step towards normalcy. College football and NFL football will be another step in normalcy. Heck, being able to go to church or to a movie theater is a return to normalcy. Stay safe, gang, it’s coming. Brought to you by: