Michigan's Brady Hoke: SEC is not the only strong conference
By Zac Ellis
The SEC has won the last seven BCS national championships, but one coach from an opposing conference thinks the SEC is hogging all the spotlight. Michigan's Brady Hoke told Cleveland's 92.3 FM this week that while the SEC has put together a dominant run, similarly high-level football exists in other parts of the country, reports Michigan's MLive.com:
"I think people get a little overly zealous when they think the SEC is (the only conference) where they play football," Hoke said. "I think when you look at the track record of the Big Ten, (we) play awfully good football.
"I really believe in this conference, and everyone has to recruit the way they need to recruit for their school. It's all different. ... (But) it's an amazing conference of coaches that work awfully hard."
Hoke maintains that the quality of Big Ten coaches gets lost in the shuffle:
"We all have that pride in the conference we represent," he said. "You look at Bo Pelini and Nebraska over the past three years. Wisconsin, what they've done over the course of some time.
"Penn State, I have the utmost respect for Bill O'Brien as a man and as a football coach. All the teams are working hard. Northwestern and Iowa in our division are always a problem for us. Obviously Mark Dantonio and what they've done at Michigan State."
Hoke's Wolverines went 0-2 against the SEC in 2012, as they were blown out by Alabama in the season opener and dropped a close meeting against South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. The Big Ten is 2-7 against the SEC in bowl games over the past three years.
Hoke's comments are the latest in a string of backlash directed at the SEC this offseason. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops questioned the SEC's talent level in May, and Kansas coach Charlie Weis later defended Stoops' stance. Of course, a handful of SEC coaches have fired back at the critics. In reference to Stoops' comments, Florida's Will Muschamp told the Palm Beach Post, “I’d be saying the same thing if I were in the Big 12. I said it for three years.” Alabama's Nick Saban, who lays claim to three of the league's seven consecutive BCS titles, told AL.com that some "animosity" toward the SEC exists because of its sustained success.