Size, speed and strong defense are attributes that are in high supply among the teams that make up the Southeastern Conference, long considered the best college football conference in America. With the last six national championships having been won by SEC teams, it's extremely difficult to dispute that superiority claim.
While there is no disputing that SEC schools have dominated college football the past half-dozen years. The record speaks for itself. But you can score one for the Big 12 when it comes to comparing the major conferences on the basis of speed and how fast the best players are from all of the conferences on both offense and defense.
A short article by Andy Staples in the Sept. 24 issue of Sports Illustratedd reported on an analysis done by SI examining the 40-yard dash times of 1,153 players from the NFL draft combine over the past five years. The study compared the times of offensive lineman and offensive skill-position players, as well as the defensive line and defensive skill positions, sub-divided the players into conference subsets and computed the mean average of the times recorded in each of the four primary positional categories.
The SEC ranked first among both offensive and defensive skill-position players (that is players excluding the offensive or defensive down linemen), while players from the Big 12 in those two categories ranked third. The offensive-line average for the Big 12 was second, however, and third for the defensive line. The SEC, meanwhile ranked fifth out of six conferences in the mean time of the offensive linemen and sixth for defensive linemen.
Combining all of the 40-times data, broken down only by conference, the Big 12 recorded the highest mean average (4.7672 seconds), followed by the ACC (4.7744), Big Ten (4.780), SEC (4.8091), Pac-12 (4.8158) and Big East (4.8159).