It's Saturday in Athens

It's Saturday in Athens

Monday, March 19, 2012

Why Southerners Chant SEC!! SEC!! SEC!!

Battle flag.
I recently got into an argument/debate with a good friend, who simply does not understand  the unity among SEC football fans. This person happens to be from Washington state, and only got his first taste of SEC football within the last few years. This person also prefers his football on Sundays, which is his first big mistake in even attempting to decipher the code of the southern pigskin sirens which seduce our every emotion when the leaves change colors.

Since the argument with him went absolutely nowhere, as in a "I have my opinion and you have yours. I am not trying to change your opinion so please don't try and change mine.", I decided to lay it out to my audience, who are fortunate enough to "get it".

You know you wish this was how you were raised.
If somebody grew up far away from the sounds of cicadas, the sights of hanging spanish moss, the feel of humidity, the smell of honeysuckle, or the taste of butter on every table, they are going to be in for a big culture shock when they decide to invade our turf, bringing with them their foreign ideals and mindsets. In the south, football is not a game played on Sundays by a bunch of rich crybabies who are accompanied by fireworks during player introductions, and lavish halftime shows performed by a bizarro Top-40 musical act. Down here, football is a way of life, played on Friday nights and Saturdays by kids who suit up in order to defend the honor of their community, and are supported by people who have helped "raise them right" in order to respect the helmet decal which graces their suit of armor.

Our football starts here, not at the NFL draft.
The kids that play in the SEC, are kids we have had on our football radars since about the 9th or 10th grade. They are kids we all feel we helped raise, by scouting them out on Fridays, and following their every recruiting trip and rumor. For those outside of the south who claim "recruiting isn't important", try to explain to us how "whoever lands Peyton Manning will not be affected" or "whichever NFL team has the most first round draft picks will not see positive results". Essentially, a college football team has the ability to go out and recruit 3 or 4 of the top recruits in the country, all from the south, get a commit from each of them, and you basically just had 4 of the first 5 picks in the "draft" of college football. And since the majority of these players come from the south, and we have followed them, making them household names while they are looking for prom dates, we declare them family, and can find ways to support them throughout their college careers, even if they are playing for the bitter rival.

There comes the part that is the most difficult to get a foreign NFLer to understand. In the SEC, a game played against a non-SEC opponent has ZERO impact on the conference standings. Whereas in the NFL, if a team's schedule puts them against a non-divisional opponent, everybody else in that division roots hard for the opponent, as a loss from their "brethren" benefits them in the divisional standings. Not saying they fail to understand this, but it's nearly impossible to get them to understand the mindset.

At war with one another. We don't support the rest of the world.
In college football, with its lack of concrete playoffs, a beauty contest ensues throughout the season. When your team, or the bitter rival, goes west to play an Arizona State, or goes north to play a Penn State, or goes up into the valley to play a Nebraska or an Oklahoma State, the beauty of the entire conference is being placed on the line. The last thing we want is an Auburn team going to Nebraska and losing, then later in the year when your team beats Auburn, all the voters and ESPN personalities who have a say so in the rankings say "well, it was a great win for UGA today, but remember, Auburn got embarrassed by a 4 loss Nebraska team earlier in the season", diluting what should have been a rankings-climbing victory. When an SEC school loses to another conference, it dilutes the entire product in the long run. Those raised on southern pigskin understand this. It is not a foreign idea, like "how do those Europeans get excited about a soccer match". We were raised to root for the rival as long as they weren't playing another SEC team. And when they end up losing to a Kentucky or Vanderbilt, well, we consider that the beauty and competition within the SEC. If you think that dilutes our brand, then I have nothing for you.

If you still don't get it, I don't give a damn.
My best advice to those who decide to leave their foreign hometowns, and dive into the rich, deep south, setting up shop while trying to find a nice southern belle, a house with a wraparound porch equipped with rocking chairs, learning to drink sweet tea, and figuring out what a grit is; embrace your surroundings. This includes the religion and culture of our brand of football. We may consider ourselves fourteen individual countries going to war with one another, so long as that war is against.... one another. But when one of the members of our pretentious, pompous fraternity of the south ventures out on their own to face a foreign opponent, by golly they have the unity of ALL there to support them. And that is our opinion. Please don't bother trying to plant yours on our rich soil.



  1. I take exception to your inclusion of the word "Southerners" in the title of this blog entry as if people in the South are in lock-step support of the SEC. The fact of the matter is that a great many of us who were born and raised in the South are not only not SEC fans, but also very much dislike your favorite conference. There are many storied, historically significant, high-level college football programs in the South in competing conferences. Not only that, but Kentucky, Missouri, and Texas are not even Southern states, at least if we're using a Civil War era map as our definition of what constitutes "Southern."

  2. Actually, forget my last sentence. Texas WAS an official member of the CSA, and they even claimed (but didn't control) Missouri and Kentucky. :-)