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Part Two: The SEC’s Talent Pool Is Only Getting Deeper

In Part One of today’s post-NFL draft Stat Analysis piece, we looked at the number of draft picks (and first-rounders specifically) to come from the SEC and the other BCS conferences in recent years.  In this portion, we’ll take a look towards the future.  And the future looks good for the Southeastern Conference.

As we noted earlier today, the SEC has led all other conferences in NFL draft picks for six years in a row and for 13 of the last 15 years.  That’s not just a product of superior budgets, facilities and coaches.  A lot of it has to do with simple census data.  Just as pro scouts and executives come to the SEC to do their shopping, SEC coaches can stock up on local talent to build their college programs.

The talent is in Dixie.  That’s a pretty big plus for the two leagues most associated with the region — the SEC and the ACC.  And it just so happens that both are expanding, too.  The SEC is spreading west and south this summer while the ACC will be moving further north by 2014.

Meanwhile, the two BCS leagues in America’s Heartland appear to have a fight on their hands when it comes to re-establishing themselves as dominant players — top to bottom — in the world of college football.

First, some stats.  Below you’ll find the make-up of each of the five biggest BCS leagues as we believe they will look in 2014.  The Big East — as we showed in Part One — hasn’t been a serious producer of talent compared to their BCS brethren and has had to spread all over the continental US just to survive recent defections.  For those reasons, we’re not even going to examine that league’s future roster of schools.

You’ll see each conference, it’s total number of schools (according to who’s scheduled to join by 2014), the total number of states it can claim, and the NFL talent produced from those states’ high schools over a 20-year span.  For our purposes, we’ll consider all the NFL draft picks from 1992 through 2011 for each state in each of the big five conferences.

And we’ll look at them in order with regards to total picks from each league’s footprint:


   SEC States    Schools In State    Draft Picks By HS State ’92-’11
   Texas    Texas A&M (2012)    493
   Florida    Florida    460
   Georgia    Georgia    235
   Louisiana    LSU    188
   Alabama    Alabama, Auburn    135
   S. Carolina    S. Carolina    127
   Mississippi    Miss. St., Ole Miss    112
   Tennessee    Tennessee, Vanderbilt    81
   Missouri    Missouri (2012)    59
   Arkansas    Arkansas    42
   Kentucky    Kentucky    40
   11 States    14 Schools    1,972 NFL Draft Picks


As you can see, the rich is about to get richer.  By expanding into Missouri and Texas, the SEC is growing its borders and putting down a talent pipeline into the second most productive state in the Union (Texas) all at the same time.  While other conferences are spread out further geographically — from Canada to Mexico in the Pac-12, from Pennsylvania to Nebraska in the Big Ten, from Miami to Boston in the ACC — none tap into 11 states.  SEC recruiting will improve in the future, not regress.  And that’s bad news for every other conference long-term.


   ACC States    Schools In State    Draft Picks By HS State ’92-’11
   Florida    Florida St., Miami    460
   Georgia    Georgia Tech    235
   Virginia    Virginia, Virginia Tech    162
   Pennsylvania    Pittsburgh (2014)    145
   N. Carolina    Duke, UNC, NC St., W. Forest    139
   S. Carolina    Clemson    127
   New York    Syracuse (2014)    86
   Maryland    Maryland    64
   Massachusetts    Boston College    34
   9 States    14 Schools    1,452 NFL Draft Picks


Yes.  Over the 20 years from 1992 through 2011 the 11 states of the new SEC have produced a whopping 520 more draft picks than the 9 states of what will be the new ACC.  And John Swofford’s league is second to Mike Slive’s overall.  So if you think there’s a drop-off in overall talent pool from the SEC to the ACC, wait until you see what we’re going to show you next.


   Pac-12 States    Schools In State    Draft Picks By HS State ’92-’11
   California    Cal, Stanford, UCLA, USC    579
   Washington    Washington, Wash. St.    78
   Arizona    Arizona, Arizona St.    68
   Colorado    Colorado    56
   Oregon    Oregon, Oregon St.    38
   Utah    Utah    31
   6 States    12 Schools    850 NFL Draft Picks


You might as well just call Larry Scott’s league the Cal-or-Bust League.  College prospectors have to head to the Golden State to strike it rich.  The recent additions of Colorado and Utah help a bit, but not much.  The Pac-12 region — while larger from end-to-end than the SEC — has produced a more than a thousand fewer NFL draft picks from ’92 through 2011.  That’s bad.

What you’ll in the Rust Belt is worse.


   Big Ten States    Schools In State    Draft Picks By HS State ’92-’11
   Ohio    Ohio State    197
   Pennsylvania    Penn State    145
   Michigan    Michigan, Michigan St.    126
   Illinois    Illinois, Northwestern    116
   Indiana    Indiana, Purdue    57
   Wisconsin    Wisconsin    46
   Iowa    Iowa    38
   Nebraska    Nebraska    34
   Minnesota    Minnesota    33
   9 States    12 Schools    792 NFL Draft Picks


Uh-oh.  The Big Ten has a helluva lot of tradition.  With major media centers spread throughout the league, it also gets an enormous amount of publicity.  And while the league might seem a bit pretentious to those outside the region — the “Leaders” and “Legends” divisions, for example — it’s rich history of great football and great academics justifies its still strong reputation.  But that doesn’t mean the future is bright for Jim Delany’s conference.  When it comes to NFL-caliber athletes, there just aren’t that many of them that come from the Big Ten’s nine-state footprint.

But things could be worse…


   Big 12 States    Schools In State    Draft Picks By HS State ’92-’11
   Texas    Baylor, TCU (2012), Texas, Texas Tech    493
   Oklahoma    Oklahoma, Oklahoma St.    63
   Iowa    Iowa State    38
   Kansas    Kansas, Kansas St.    27
   W. Virginia    W. Virginia (2012)    10
   5 States    10 Schools    631 NFL Draft Picks


In-fighting, uneven revenue splits, and one school’s dominance over the political landscape of the Big 12 have driven away Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas A&M in recent years.  That has left the Big 12 on life support.  ESPN and Fox television money will keep the conference alive for — it’s believed — at least six more seasons, but at some point the Big 12 will need to expand or disband.  It is a Texas-centric league at the moment that covers but a five-state area.  It’s current footprint has produced 1,300 fewer NFL draft picks between 1992 and 2011 than the SEC.  And now the Southeastern Conference’s addition of A&M gives Slive’s conference a foothold in the Big 12′s last remaining stronghold.  In World War II terms, College Station is Normandy and the Lone Star State is the rest of Europe.


Above, we mentioned census data.  Now let’s take some of those numbers into account.  Indeed, Delany himself mentioned recent surveys when discussion possible Big Ten expansion over the past two summers.  More people are moving to the South and to the West.  More people are leaving the Midwest.

Looking at the most recent growth rates from the US Census Bureau (2010-2011), it’s easy to see which states are growing fastest:


Texas — growing at 2.1% (Big 12, SEC)

Utah — growing at 1.9% (Pac-12)

Colorado — growing at 1.7% (Pac-12)

Washington — growing at 1.5% (Pac-12)

Arizona — growing at 1.4% (Pac-12)

Florida — growing at 1.3% (ACC, SEC)

Georgia — growing at 1.3% (ACC, SEC)

N. Carolina — growing at 1.2% (ACC)

Virginia — growing at 1.1% (ACC)

California — growing at 1.1% (Pac-12)

S. Carolina — growing at 1.1% (ACC, SEC)


And now here’s a look at the states growing slowest (or actually declining in population):


Michigan — declining at -.08% (Big Ten)

Ohio — growing at .07% (Big Ten)

W. Virginia — growing at .13% (Big 12)

Illinois — growing at .3% (Big Ten)

Pennsylvania — growing at .3% (ACC, Big Ten)

Missouri — growing at .3% (SEC)

Mississippi — growing at .3% (SEC)

Wisconsin — growing at .4% (Big Ten)

New York — growing at .4% (ACC)

Alabama — growing at .4% (SEC)

Indiana — growing at .5% (Big Ten)

Iowa — growing at .5% (Big Ten, Big 12)


The Big Ten and Big 12 states are growing at tiny rates (or declining) and there’s been no expansion moves made to offset those trends.  The Pac-12 region is growing.  The South is a mixed bag, but both the  ACC and SEC have expanded in order to counteract any potential negative shifts.

NFL draft history plus the current migration patterns of modern Americans suggest that the SEC will continue to dominate in terms of football talent produced for years to come.  As noted above, there will be blips on the radar from time to time, but the numbers and trends should make it rather clear to any objective observer that the Southeastern Conference — followed by the ACC and the Pac-12 — appear to be in good shape moving forward.  The Big Ten, on the other hand, appears to have to some work to do if it wants to dominate football as it did for much of the 20th century.  The Big 12?  Well, the word “doomed” comes to mind… unless there’s some serious outward expansion either to the West or South.  Unfortunately for that league, several of its schools have been headed in the other directions the past few years.  And what schools in the Pac-12, SEC or ACC would want to go from growth zones into a dead zone?

In Part Three of our Stat Analysis series we’ll examine the recent talent production of all 14 SEC members.

(Kudos to for this wonderful little draft-tracking tool.)



One other impact of the population trends is the value, long term, of the marketability and profitability of the SEC in television contracts. Some analysts estimate the value to the SEC, over and above the existing fair market value, of its two most recent additions to its next ten year contract for television rights is over 115 million dollars A YEAR. Hmmmm. So much for Southerners not being able to do math........


I'll have no problem with SEC expansion into North Carolina or Virginia.  The move makes plenty of sense on a variety of levels.  I also believe that if the situation ever presented itself it would make sense to take an Oklahoma school and possibly West Virginia.  But, that being said, the trend in energy costs, the stagnation of the economy, and with the angst brewing over lost rivalries I would hope our expansion would start becoming more concentrated in spite of the new market approach.  If we ever go to 4 divisions I believe it would work best with 5 teams per division.  That would give each team 4 divisional games and 2 rotating from each of the other three divisions.  All based upon a reasonable range for fans to drive with the core of divisional games.


The economy is not frequently considered in these market based expansion plans.  The economy is sluggish because there is an excessive available amount of labor and fewer jobs because of automation, outsourcing, and overproduction shutdowns.  For years we have handled overproducton by extending credit to move product.  Now there is also tighter credit due to overextension of debt.  Since the problem is global and inclusive of all advanced economies, even China and India to a certain extent, there is no immediate end in sight to a protracted period of economic malaise.


How does this affect college football?  The new #1 source of debt in the United States is Student Loan Debt, now surpassing credit cards.  With an all time low in the number of graduates being hired this dilemma will lead to less enrollment for our universities over the next few decades.  Currently, the schools are raising tuition in a foolish attempt to maintain revenue streams.  The result will only exacerbate the decline in enrollment, which will further deteriorate the revenue from tuitiion.  Thus begins a viscious cycle.  Last year attendence and viewership were down in all sporting events nationwide.  Perhaps none hurt more than the NBA.  At a time when Americans are having to cut back to make ends meet and save more for those two inflationary factors never included in government inflation indices, groceries and fuel, ticket prices, like tuition, are going up.  The result will be of course less ticket sales.  Sports after all is a luxury/entertainment activity.  The SEC will not be immune to this economic disease.


The proposed playoffs and larger TV revenue will help.  More stratification in ticket pricing should help as well.  More dollars for better seating and less dollars for non-prime seating should help to fill seats and flush out concessions if the moves are wisely made in advance of declining attendence.  It will be easier to hang on to a game goer who is pinched if you lower some seating prices, than to try to lure him back once he's decided to watch on the High Def.


While I've not been forced to make economic adjustments, I can tell you, that in spite of having SEC season tickets for nearly 40 years, I have already discovered the joys of High Def, clean home restrooms, a better stocked kitchen, and being able to actually talk with friends about the game during the game versus shouting over the never ending hich decible loud speakers that blair ridiculous music throughout every break in play of the game.  If the SEC is to remain on top we need to ponder the economic needs of some of our fans, and concentrate very hard on making the gameday experience enjoyable and social for those of us who once loved it for those reasons.  Never ending noise at baseball, basketball and football games is not enjoyable, destroys the social time spent with friends with whom you have shared sporting experiences for decades, and makes me yearn for the comfort of my recliner.


In summation, closer games will be an economic necessity for both schools and fans, holding on to lower end ticket buyers a must, and making the experience more enjoyable from the parking lot to the seat a prime concern if the SEC is to stay on top in revenue during these next few decades.  Then I'll keep going to the games and enoy seeing old friends and watch our top round draft picks from my recliner on Sundays. 


  1. [...] today, we showed you how the SEC continues to dominate the NFL draft.  Then we showed you why you can expect that trend to continue — and even grow — in the future.  Now we look specifically at the 14 SEC member institutions to see which programs have been [...]

  2. [...] NFL draft history plus the current migration patterns of modern Americans suggest that the SEC will continue to dominate in terms of football talent produced for years to come. As noted above, there will be blips on the radar from time to time, but the numbers and trends should make it rather clear to any objective observer that the Southeastern Conference — followed by the ACC and the Pac-12 — appear to be in good shape moving forward. The Big Ten, on the other hand, appears to have to some work to do if it wants to dominate football as it did for much of the 20th century. The Big 12? Well, the word “doomed” comes to mind… [More] [...]

  3. [...]  Ditto the Big Ten.  Those leagues — like it/don’t like it, fair/not fair — do not look to be on even footing with the SEC or even the ACC or Pac-12 moving forward thanks to their current footprints and the migration patterns of the modern American citizen.  The [...]

  4. [...] the current discussions on a new postseason playoff format as well as the Big 12′s own cloudy future are helping to feed the messageboard chatter, but we’re not so sure at least some — [...]

  5. [...] that reason, we think Cincinnati is a much more likely fallback option for the Big 12.  As we showed here, the Big 12 is currently a five-state league that produces very few NFL-caliber players from within [...]

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