Sports

Up-tempo spread offenses making waves, igniting debate across the Southeastern Conference

  • Alabama head coach Nick Saban applauds following a score against Tennessee during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    Alabama head coach Nick Saban applauds following a score against Tennessee during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)  (The Associated Press)

  • Alabama head coach Nick Saban leads his team on to the field for an NCAA college football game against Tennessee in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    Alabama head coach Nick Saban leads his team on to the field for an NCAA college football game against Tennessee in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)  (The Associated Press)

  • File-This Oct. 26, 2013 file photo shows Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn walking around before  the first half of an NCAA college football game against Florida Atlantic in Auburn, Ala.  Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema engaged in some back-and-fort with Malzahn during the summer about the pace of college offenses. The two will finally meet on the field this week when the surging Tigers visit the Razorbacks, losers of five straight who are coming off a bye. (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)

    File-This Oct. 26, 2013 file photo shows Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn walking around before the first half of an NCAA college football game against Florida Atlantic in Auburn, Ala. Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema engaged in some back-and-fort with Malzahn during the summer about the pace of college offenses. The two will finally meet on the field this week when the surging Tigers visit the Razorbacks, losers of five straight who are coming off a bye. (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)  (The Associated Press)

The Southeastern Conference used to be thought of as the place creative offenses went to die.

No more.

Led by an influx of new, offensive-minded coaches, the SEC has joined the rest of college football by embracing the age of the spread.

It's a trend highlighted by the success of schools like Auburn, Texas A&M, Missouri and Ole Miss, though not all of the league — highlighted by defending national champion Alabama — has let go of its running and defensive roots.

The different styles have played out in more ways than just on the field. They've also led to debate about player safety among coaches and increased salesmanship in recruiting battles centered on the spread's appeal to skill players eager to make it to the NFL.