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Point/Counter: Northern Football is Slow
Florida DE Jarvis Moss
Florida DE Jarvis Moss
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 18, 2011


Speed kills, and it can't be coached, but is it true that the south has faster players and more of them? Was the 2007 BCS Championship that helped star the SEC's great national title run the epitome of speed vs. sloth? CFN's Brian Harbach and Phil Harrison take opposing views on the argument and it's impact on college football.


Brian Harbach – Slow As Molasses
Follow me on Twitter: @harbabd

Most Southern Football fans can point to one moment when this stereotype became reality, for me it was the 2007 BCS Championship – a game between #2 Florida and “#1” OSU. That one game is the perfect microcosm of the overarching "SEC = Fast and Big Ten = Slow" argument on nearly every level. Before we get into why that game stands out, let’s do some quick housekeeping.

First, the Big Ten is full of fast players and in some cases players faster than SEC guys at the same position. The difference between the Big Ten and the SEC is where the fast players play and just how many of them there are. This became abundantly clear in the Ohio State against Florida championship, when the Gator defensive players were significantly faster than anything the Buckeyes were used to facing.

Second, style has much to do with how a team or conference plays, recruits and wins games. When you think of Big Ten football you think of big physical offensive lines, snow and cold, three yards and a cloud of dust. And you’re not alone. The Big Ten has and will always be a league built on physicality and mental toughness. The weather conditions demand it; if they played in the South, the conference might have a different strategy.

This brings us back to the that BCS Championship Game. The opening kickoff was returned 93 yards by one of the fastest men ever to play in the Big Ten, Mr. Ted Ginn Jr. You can’t watch that return and not acknowledge that the Big Ten has fast players, but after that the total depth of SEC speed took over on the defensive line, and nearly everywhere else. What Derrick Harvery did to the OSU offensive line is considered cruel and unusual in 41 states; the Buckeyes simply had no answer for the SEC speed on as a whole.

Just because the SEC has an overall speed advantage, in terms of depth and non-“skill” positions, does not mean that the SEC is a vastly better conference than the Big Ten; we aren’t talking about FBS and FCS here. When Big Ten and SEC teams match up against each other in bowls the records are pretty even. Even in BCS games the SEC only holds a 3-2 advantage over the Big Ten in head to head match-ups (letting the Arkansas/OSU Sugar Bowl stand, for now). Indeed, down the conference standings in any particular year, this difference becomes less significant.

But at the top where it counts most, it’s painfully obvious. When you watch those SEC defensive tackles chase down RBs on the wing or watch an SEC offensive lineman pulling down the field, the speed advantage is most certainly apparent.

Some might consider it unfair to use one game to illustrate the difference between the two leagues, but they would be wrong. Those 60 minutes explain to a “T” the difference between the two conferences today.

But if you still disagree, there is plenty of film from the 2008 BCS Championship game available on YouTube to hammer the point home once again.


Phil Harrison – More BS from the South
Follow me on Twitter: @peharrison

There are many things that are inevitable in life: death, taxes, and if you talk to anyone from the south, that people in the colder climates apparently aren’t as fast as pedestrians in the sunbelt. It’s as if somehow when the early settlers of this great nation migrated away from the northeast, they did so in an organized fashion by way of foot speed.

This movement of course is not a new one, and has been the stereotype for years when discussing the inter-sectional rivalries that exist between mainly the SEC and Big Ten. When Ohio State flopped on the big stage in back to back years in ‘07 and ‘08 however, it was further pointed to as proof that the per-capita fast-twitch fibers were just more abundant south of the Mason-Dixon line than just south of the Canadian border.

Hogwash.

NFL rosters are littered with mid-western speedsters, and they always have been. Everybody recruits fast kids these days, and many of the top programs are typically vying for the same kids with the same attributes, whether it be height, arm strength, and yes, speed.

For every Percy Harvin, I can show you a Ted Ginn, Jr. Give me a Patrick Peterson, and I’ll raise you a Chris Chambers. Better yet, let’s make it a full house by going outside of the skill positions, and lay down a Lavar Arrington, Ryan Kerrigan, and Orlando Pace on the Olentangy river card (yes, I said Orlando Pace).

But let’s go back to the Disaster in the Desert in 2007, and the Blunder by the Bayou in 2008. Ohio State did get beat, but not because of speed. In 2007, if the Gators really had that much more speed, wouldn’t it also be evident on the offensive side of the ball? If you plug the tape back in, you’ll see a precision game plan of short screen passes and underneath routes. What you won’t see is the Gator Chomp being performed in the end zone because foot speed broke open a big play. It was a case of a great game plan and the execution necessary to create a perfect storm.

And to 2008. Didn’t all 235 pounds of “Beanie” Wells rip off a 65-yard touchdown rumble in which the LSU secondary couldn’t chase him down? Surely the fastest guys on the Tigers would never allow a big, bruising back to outrun them? Almost unnoticed in that game as well is that OSU outgained LSU in total yardage despite their inability to keep up on the speedometer (for those of you who don’t watch the Big Bang Theory, that was sarcasm). That game was lost by Ohio State because of costly penalties and turnovers, not because a 4x100 relay team chosen by both sides would spell disaster for the Buckeyes.

Look, if you want to make an argument that the teams from the south have been better over the last few years, then I can get on board with that. After all, the national championship trophy seems to be making its tour stops in states where the tea comes sweetened already. Sometimes that’s the end of the story.

Big Ten fans in particular may not want to hear the sad tale that their teams just haven’t been good enough to hoist a championship, but that’s reality. However, what’s nowhere near reality is a dime store old wives’ tale that football players in the south somehow evolved to be faster than football players from the north. Or west for that matter. It’s time to kill this stereotype.

Now, if you want to debate that legs in the south are more tan than those in the northern part of the country, you may be on to something. I’ll race you for it.


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