Also to add to the Devil's advocate side:
Cleans do offer one advantage over Maximal efforts. The RFD is higher... plus they offer eccentric RFD which squats and deads do not... Even with CAT style lifting, the closer to maximal the weight is, I believe that the RFD slope is flatter....no?
What is RFD eccentrically? Well, it is half of the equation when it comes to speed, frankly, and is the half that most everyone misses.
Everyone who talks cleans discusses their excellence due to concentric RFD, but the real beauty comes from the catch.
Eccentric RFD is very closely linked to the stiffness that is displayed by great athletes. We have all seen the guy who can calf raise a house, but sticks to the floor and has huge heel dip when he runs.... no eccentric RFD.... cannot absorb the force quickly....
So even if a huge amount of force can be displayed on the other side, the athlete sticks to the ground due to half of the equation being lost.
Now relative body strength is THE key factor to acceleration, but I beleive that this is due to the sampling of athletes. Take 100 kids and make two groups out of them. With all things being equal, both groups will have about the same number of reactive / non reactive athletes.
This is where Peter Weyand's study is amazingly accurate, but also flawed..... and Barry Ross's book is shortsighted. Guys like Dave Tate can squat and deadlift as much as Alicia Felix (200m elite runner, female), with relation to theri bodyweight, yet they could never run with Alicia Felix.... why is this? Bary alluded to it in the beginning of his book, but failed to delve deeper due to the complexity of the issue. Alicia tested off the charts in every aspect, save for STRENGTH. She was already amazingly reactive. She was a gazelle waiting for some horsepower to kick it up a notch.
So, DE squats are awesome for concentric RFD, but lack eccentric RFD. Even westside uses very fast eccentric descents with catches on their dynamic benches, but from what I understand, don't carry this over to dynamic squats. Of course, I am a skinny pus at only 205, so I am not there (westside). I am only guessing. But, I have never heard Dave or Louie talk about Reactive Squats, but instead, use the box to truly halt eccentric progress.
Eccentric RFD, muscular stiffness.... this is what seperates reactive athletes from the rest.... and cleans, when properly performed, develop these qualities....
So do Drop Absorption Squats, so do reactive squats, so do jump squats of all variations, so do Reactive GHR's, so do reactive back Hypers, so do reactive reverse hypers...all can be done unilaterally, weighted, banded....etc, etc, etc.
If you are a naturally springy athlete, increase your Max Strength through Deads and squats... hell increase it anyway!
But, many, many athletes could benefit from a great strength-speed, and speed-strength exercise that promotes both concentric and eccentric RFD. These are the weightroom warriors who scratch their head wondering why the skinny pus guy runs circles around them. Their explosive strength defecit and reactivity are much better....
And T-Maggers, please don't refer to the Olymic Lifters having amazing sprint times because they could clean so much.... because most all could squat 3x BW without gear... so was it the cleans, or the squats... or both?
Hmmm... the media and CSCS has made us believe it was the cleans... but the absolute strength of these guys was amazing also....
Maybe it was both combined....hmmmm... absolute limit off the charts with very little explosive strength defecit... sounds like a decent combo....
Maybe that was it.