Yes, we know that the SEC is supposed to be about defense and football the way it was meant to be played. And yes, we know that the 9-6 game between LSU and Alabama received too much bad publicity from the areas of the country that view POINTS as the indicator of a good football game, and not nearly enough in the way of positive reviews for being a tightly-fought defense battle.
But, let's drop the conference pride and be real for a minute here. To call some of the SEC offenses dreadful this year would be a compliment to those offenses. This was an incredibly awful year for most of the offenses in the league, and not really a banner year for any of them.
Take total offense. No team in the SEC -- not even Arkansas -- ranked in the Top 25 in yardage this season. The average ranking of SEC teams in terms of total offense this year is 81st. Remember, there are only 120 FBS teams in the country. In fact, five SEC teams -- Florida, Tennessee, Auburn, Ole Miss and Kentucky -- ranked lower than 100 in terms of total offense. When Vanderbilt is the seventh-best offense in the country, there are some issues that need to be addressed.
Scoring offense was a slightly different story -- LSU, Arkansas and Alabama all cracked the Top 25 nationally in that department -- but some of the "success" there came from points that the defenses chipped in. Almost 8 percent of those three teams' combined points came from interceptions or kick returns of some sort, and the number jumps to almost one in five points when field goals are thrown into the mix. (Data on that point compiled from cfbstats.com.)
In the other categories, though, the disparities between SEC offenses and their counterparts in other parts of the country become clearer. Arkansas and Tennessee are the only teams ranked better than Georgia at 50th in passing offense. In rushing offense, there are just two teams in the Top 25 -- Alabama and LSU -- though there are five more in the Top 50.
And the bad offenses' effects weren't merely confined to the field. They helped cost at least one head coach his job, when Ole Miss' abysmal offense was ranked 10th or 11th in rushing, passing, total and scoring offense before Houston Nutt was shown the door. The Rebel Black Bears scored more than 13 points against an FBS team just three times in 2011 and scored less than 10 points five times.
That doesn't mean that we should let the Big 12 off the hook for refusing to play any defense. But it would be nice to at least have enough offense to be confident that defense is the only reason the next game of the century is decided by kickers instead of quarterbacks.