|SI.com Conference Power Index: SEC|
The Conference Power Index (CPI) is a compilation of each conference's rank (six points for first place, five points for second place, etc.) in the following categories: AP poll rankings, BCS record, other bowls record, nonconference RPI and NFL draft picks. AP poll and BCS record were weighted doubly. This study examined two five-year periods: 1) The 1998 season through the 2003 NFL draft; 2) The '03 season through the '08 NFL draft.
Impressive coaching roster key's conference's dominance
The SEC was a solid conference from 1998-2002, second only to the Big Ten in our overall index. Over the past five seasons, however, the league became flat-out dominant, finishing first in three categories (BCS record, percentage of teams in the AP poll and NFL draft picks per team) and second in the other two (non-BCS bowl record and nonconference RPI). The conference captured three national championships during that span (LSU in '03, Florida in '06 and LSU in '07).
Many factors played a part in the conference's rise, none more so than the quality of its coaches. Georgia's Mark Richt (hired in 2001), LSU's Nick Saban (2000) and Auburn's Tommy Tuberville (1999) all began building powerhouse programs. LSU's Les Miles and Florida's Urban Meyer (both hired in 2005) soon followed. And while head coaches' salaries have risen dramatically in all conferences, the SEC's average nearly doubled in five years, from $1.04 million to $1.85 million.