Those "S-E-C" chants you hear from fans after big out-of-conference wins have become a point of pride for the nation's toughest college football conference and a seemingly constant annoyance for fans of teams outside the SEC.
If you listened closely, you probably heard a few of those chants coming from Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Thursday night, as the SEC dominated the first round of the 2013 NFL draft more thoroughly than it ever has before.
The SEC had 12 players drafted in the first round, which ties the ACC (2007) for the most players taken by one conference in the first round. Those SEC first-round picks were one more than the next two conferences combined (Pac-12 and ACC). Eleven of those 12 players were rated with four stars or more coming out of high school or junior college in the 247Sports.com composite index.
Leading the way was Alabama, which sent Dee Milliner, Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker to the New York Jets, Tennessee Titans and San Diego Chargers, respectively, with picks 9-11. Georgia, Florida and LSU each had two players selected on Thursday, while Tennessee, Missouri and Texas A&M each had one.
The SEC has won seven straight BCS National Championships, and for six straight years has led all conferences in the number of players selected in the draft. Judging from the results in the first round, it looks like the SEC is well on its way to keeping that streak alive as well.
To fans outside the SEC, it's a vicious cycle.
They have to be sick of the conference dominating college football headlines in virtually every aspect for the better part of a decade, but its success on the game's biggest stages has established unmatched momentum in the high school ranks.
Great players flock to great conferences because they want to challenge themselves against top competition and know that they'll get the best possible preparation. Success in the draft is a tremendous marketing tool for recruiting, which in turn translates to success on the field.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Is conference pride silly? Not at all.
As a matter of fact, it's very important.
In the current landscape of college football, perception is reality. The perception that the SEC is the nation's top conference continues to attract top talent looking for titles, exposure and a career in the NFL. That's the reality, and something that SEC fans should take pride in because it elevates the level of play throughout the conference.
A rising tide lifts all boats. You've seen that expression come to life in the SEC over the last seven years.
It doesn't look like the momentum is slowing down anytime soon.
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