The discussion comes up every year, especially in years like 2008, 2009 and 2011 when the Big 12 mounts a serious threat at toppling the SEC's run of national title wins.
So what separates the two leagues? TCU coach Gary Patterson was asked the question this weekend. He's a Big 12 newcomer, and his answer confirms what you've probably heard before, but from one more source.
"There are a lot of good players every where else. If you look at the NFL per capita, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi they put out more NFL players than anywhere else in the country," Patterson told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "It's the body types in the regions of the United States that make a difference, too. You are going to find the skill players, but what we don't have as much in this state is the size of bodies of offensive and defensive linemen that the southeast part of the United States has. It's the gene pool."
I agree with Patterson. In the high-stakes games we've seen in the past few years, beefy linemen like Nick Fairley at Auburn and Marcell Dareus at Alabama have proved too much for spread offenses like Oregon and Texas.
But for those across the Big 12, Patterson's latter comments should be cause for concern.
Texas brought Bo Davis from Alabama to coach the team's defensive tackles and Stacy Searels to coach the offensive line. This year, both Davis and Searels will have junior-college transfers to coach.
Traditionally, the more mature-bodied talents show up on campus ready to contribute and have been staples of championship SEC defenses.
Texas' Brandon Moore has been described by teammates as "unstoppable" this offseason. Apparently, word has gotten out.
"Alabama is playing with 350-pound guys. Like the guy who just transferred to Texas; he's 6-7, 340. They ain't had 6-7, 340 guy forever that can run like he does," Patterson said. "(The state of Texas) has skill players. It doesn't matter whether it's 1-A or 5-A, they can all run. I'm not knocking what we do here at all. It's just a different body type."
Patterson's right, but could Texas be the first step in a changing game? Moore and offensive lineman Donald Hawkins are just the first.
Will they be the last? If either has a big impact, you better believe there's no way others won't follow suit, and we could see a whole lot of Big 12 teams gunning for those highly recruited jucos in the South.