I like Andy Staples, but I don’t know where he’s coming from with this observation:
After LSU beat Ole Miss in late October, I wrote it might be dangerous to presume the best team in the SEC West was automatically the best team in college football. The remainder of the season and the bowls proved that to be true. While the division remains fairly stacked, the gap between the West and the rest of the Power Five closed in 2014.
Some of this has to do with the gap between Alabama and everyone else closing. Everything is cyclical, and it was crazy to think the Crimson Tide could continue to stack five-star recruit upon five-star recruit before a few elite high school players began choosing to go elsewhere. When Nick Saban was building his machine in Tuscaloosa, he might have gotten Robert Nkemdiche (from Georgia) and Joey Bosa (from Florida) to sign with Alabama. But once Saban had an entire roster of players with similar recruiting pedigrees, it only became natural for great high school players to begin seeking easier paths into the starting lineup.