I promised everyone I’d be back soon. On this edition of The South Will Blog Again we will finish our coverage of the 2012 Bowl Season with my analysis of the National Championship of between Alabama and Notre Dame.
Once again, to no surprise to my readers, the SEC emerged victorious. And I suspect to folks not named “Holtz” it wasn’t too shocking that Bama won. But I suspect it surprised a few Yankees and SEC haters just how much of a beat down it was.
As I said on Facebook at the time, the Irish haven’t looked this weak since the Potato Famine.
While on the one hand, having the “Houndstooth Mafia” win again is going to be obnoxious. All of us non-Tide SEC types are going to spend all season hearing the arrogant rants and chants of Crimson Pride. No one has more annoying Sidewalk Alums than Bama. Not even the Irish. On the other hand, what am I saying? Even Bama’s concrete graduates take a back seat to the hordes of Plastic Paddies in this country.
Still, my blog, nay my entire life is about all things Southern so despite my dislike of Rammer Bammer Jammer and Company I was glad to see the mighty elephant stampede the leprecaun.
– Southern Blogger
RUDY VERSUS FORREST GUMP
“Mama always said football is like a plate of barbecue. The North don’t know anything about it”.
I hate the movie Rudy. I really hate it. For those who haven’t seen this Disney “classic” 3’7” Hobbit Sean Astin graduates high school, kind of sucks but “has heart” (which is coach speak for that girl has a nice personality), fails at his Midwestern steal plant job, somehow gets into community college, fails to get into Notre Dame because his grades “have heart” and then still buys a letterman jacket he didn’t earn from a lame school he didn’t attend. Someone lit a candle and/or found the pot of gold and “it’s a Mighty Ducks miracle!” he got into Notre Dame.
But then our Hobbit friend meets up with Pauly Shore and a caveman at UCLA (wait that’s another movie)….oh no….I remember…He tries out for the Fighting Irish and his heart gives out…figuratively. Then yada yada the kid bugs the coach to let him be a human tackling dummy so he can pretend he earned his dumb letterman jacket. After 2 hours of being discouraged he gets help from some Louis Gossett Jr. type guy who tells him to (surprise) “have heart”. Rudy makes the team because it’s actually not too hard to make the teams outside of the SEC and he eventually tackles someone. He’s carried off the field because as we know not many Notre Dame players can make tackles.
Forrest Gump on the other hand is a lesson in Southern courage. Rednecks chase Gump, Gump is forced to run. In the SEC running is a good thing and Bear Bryant agrees and so Gump is a star halfback at Alabama. It’s no big deal that he can barely write his name because he can play football. This means Rudy wouldn’t have had much of a chance to tackle him. Being a Southerner, Gump fights for his country while in Rudy’s part of the country people are burning draft cards. Gump excels at all sports and at life. He even gets the girl although that girl isn’t on the righteous path. Rudy just got a stupid jacket.
Gump also got an Oscar. As I said Rudy sucks.
WHEN IRISH COMMENTATORS ARE LYING
The point of the above treatise is to show that while having heart and making good grades is nice and all to win at football you need to know how to run.
And Alabama and the other teams in the SEC can run. Notre Dame cannot.
Alabama plays in a conference with the toughest schedule in the land and a championship game versus a top ten squad.
Notre Dame doesn’t even have a conference. They believe it’s 1937.
Both teams get a lot of media hype and attention. One can back it up.
If you watched the coverage leading up to the game Lou Holtz and his cohorts were predicting a Notre Dame slaughter. It was laughable. Never mind that Notre Dame played a weak schedule, barely survived against some weak opponents, was slow, and hasn’t been to the Big Show in two decades, and were playing the defending national champs. The media had them ranked #1 and they had heart.
But didn’t you see Rudy? Heart always wins.
That’s what Dr. Lou says.
ROSARIES VERSUS ROADSIDE SIGNS
This game had it all. It was the ultimate Northern school versus Southern school. Two classic programs who’ve added way more titles to their count than records seem to indicate. They have huge national fan bases. It pitted #1 versus #2. The game was to contain dozens of future NFL players led by two big-time coaches.
And it was a fight between Catholics and Southern Baptists.
Yep. Oh I know you heard about the “Catholics versus Cousins” t-shirts and all that, but what this really pitted was fandoms of the two biggest denominations on Sunday rooting for their respective congregants for their Saturday religion.
I have a feeling this is how it went down. Throughout Catholic America Notre Dame had quite a few prayer candles lit on the weeks leading up to the game, while in Southern Baptist pews Jesus was asked to work a few miracles for A.J. McCarren (and no by Jesus I don’t mean Tim Tebow). This game pitted intercession versus direct line Christianity.
I went to Catholic High School. I went to college in the SEC. I’m certain this is how it went down. It must have really been hard for Alabama Catholics….having to choose one religion over the other. Either way you choose you’re damned.
But remember folks, Jesus doesn’t care who wins the Super Bowl or the BCS championship for that matter. But that doesn’t stop you from praying.
RUDY KIND OF SUCKS AT FOOTBALL
Then there was the game itself. I had loudly predicted all week to all that would listen (and to others that had to listen anyway) that Alabama and the SEC would win. I reminded folks that Northerners play football while Southerners are fighting a war. I explained that the past six years were no joke. I harangued about Notre Dame’s media hype, lack of conference play, and weak schedule. I predicted an Alabama victory sure as the sun would come up the next day. But even I didn’t predict this much of a butt whooping.
It was a mismatch from the opening kickoff. Like bowls past the size and speed difference of the SEC teams was obvious. So long as conference teams stay disciplined and motivated (unlike say Florida) they tend to win the game. Saban was focused, which meant the team under penalty of death was focused, and the Crimson Tide started rolling.
Notre Dame’s best play was to complain about a couple questionable calls. Yep, that was pretty much it. They couldn’t run more than a couple yards, complete many passes with the exception of their tight end, and even more damning make any tackles. Eddie Lacy ran all over their vaunted defense, and when he got bored with that, they put in T.J. Yeldon and the freshman put up even more numbers. And when Alabama got tired of running they threw a few bombs down the field for touchdowns. The running game, the passing game, the defensive attack, and especially the offensive line were superior in every way.
All we heard about leading up to this game, and indeed all season was Notre Dame’s defense. Well, we stopped hearing about them after five minutes of the game. They never did much if they even showed up at all. Maybe they too were make believe. The biggest hit on A.J. McCarren was from his own center for being kind of a punk. You know That punk with the hot girlfriend.
A STAR IS BORN
Certainly you noticed. Brent Musberger soon noticed. Yep to no surprise to anyone living below the Mason-Dixon the star quarterback was dating Miss Alabama. And being Miss Alabama, or really about any coed down there, Miss Katherine Webb was hot. The amusing thing was Mr. Musberger doesn’t spend too much time on SEC campuses because this type of beauty is in force down there. We count our Miss America titles along with our National Championships (three each for my alma mater).
And so Brent and an obviously equally obsessed cameraman focused on the young Miss Katherine as she struck a pose and seemingly model-pouted through the game. Touchdown….strike a pose. But who can blame them? What else was there to see after the first half? I mean Alabama showed up so thus Notre Dame’s chances were gone. So Brent went on and on and on in a treatise on Southern belles. As I said, no one could blame him. Except the ninnies at ESPN. For some reason sports journalism had moved to the left of Pravda you know in order to be taken seriously. So Brent had to apologize. Seriously.
You know who didn’t mind? … the lady in question. For one thing, Southern women aren’t insulted by polite compliments (not leering)any more than door opening. For another thing judging by subsequent TV appearances a star was born. It’s all about ratings. And in the South our coeds also command bigger ratings.
MORE ACCURATE THAN LOU HOLTZ (MAYBE NOT AS FUNNY)
I suppose all this bored most of America. They were looking for a close game. Perhaps they were looking for the SEC to finally get their comeuppance. But it didn’t happen. It was never going to happen. Heck this wasn’t even the best or fifth best Yankee team to throw in there.
Y’all may have been bored at the lack of drama but that’s because you thought this was a drama. I saw this as a comedy texting to my contact list how very funny this all was. Everyone should have known this was going to be a butt kicking of Marse Robert proportions. But then again not everyone reads this blog. I need ratings. Maybe my Katherine Webb cartoon will help.
I know that it’s been nearly a month since the bowl season, and nearly two months since my last post. I’ve been truant in the blogosphere. Another SEC -dominant bowl whooping went down and your Southern Blogger wasn’t around to detail it.
I had a good reason. I got injured. Playing whiffle ball with my nephew on Christmas. Yep I’m pretty tough. It was nothing too big at first, just a little soreness that turned into a big soreness, which turned into tendonitis. If you’ve never had the pleasure of tendonitis it sucks. I’d rather watch General Sherman eat cheese fries with ranch dressing while singing the Ohio State fight song than have tendonitis. So yeah, it sucks.
Add to that a little carpal tunnel symptoms associated with my injury and it makes it hard to draw and type. But I’m in physical therapy three times a week and trying to manage things. Well, slowly but surely I’ve drawn 14 pictures and have two posts worked up about the bowl season. It’s a bit outdated, and I’m out of practice but here goes…
Rising Again: Every Bowl Season
I love bowl season. It’s like hunting season only the “game” is Yankee running backs. It’s “put up or shut up time” where every year the SEC puts up with anti-South diatribes and accusations of cheating and then pummels the opposition causing them to shut up. And for the seventh straight year we proved once again who the best is.
One of my favorite blogs is Saturdays Down South. On one post a commenter mentioned “some of you guys equate the SEC with the Confederacy”. I think he was talking about me. Every time I see a Big Ten school get pummeled I fist pump like it’s 1863. It’s Gettysburg folks, only this time George Pickett is 6’6” and runs a 4.4 40.
This year we had nine of our fourteen (if you count Missouri) Southern armies/schools going up against the rest. The ESPN types, Oregon homers, Golden Domers, and Ohio State fans sitting on probation said “this year…THIS bowl season” would be different. It wasn’t. It never is.
Even Our Nerds Can Ball
The first game we had NC State versus Vanderbilt. This was clearly an undercard. First of all NC State is a Southern enough school on the right side of the sweet tea line but wrong side of the football is cooler than basketball debate. And they went up against Vanderbilt, not exactly the typical SEC school. They actually go to class…players too. Yeah, hard to believe.
But Vandy has gotten much better of late. They sent the Wolf Pack to the kennels and handed them a beat down. Since it was the Music City Bowl nobody really watched. Sad, because they missed seeing a real up and coming team. Even our nerds can ball.
Not Everyone Got the Memo
But like any great drama there was a bit of a scary moment when it looked like our braggadocio would backfire and I’d have to write a post defending Yankee football. Well…or at least go back to writing about barbecue. Three of our teams lost to non-SEC opponents. They let us down.
The first to backfire was perhaps the most excusable. LSU blew a big lead against Clemson. What makes it excusable is that Clemson is the most SEC-like (along with Florida State) of any non-SEC team. Clemson’s Boyd can throw and run and had experience in big games. Clemson usually wins their bowls and has a fast defense and good play calling.
But LSU had something too…a big lead going into the fourth quarter. Then the lead got smaller. And smaller. And smaller until LSU had the chance to escape with a victory by icing the clock. Cool Les, all you’ve got to do is throw in a few running plays and get a first down and you’re out of there. At worst, you can go three and out and leave a few seconds of the clock.
Well clocks and Les Miles don’t really go together. I don’t think he believes in the same space-time continuum that you and I do. He ran three straight passing plays and no first down. The space-time continuum if you will stopped long enough for Clemson to get the ball back and score.
Then there was Florida. They’re the so-called #3 team in the country. They were going up against Louisville of the Big East. This is like candy from a baby. Only stealing is a penalty and that’s what we found out Florida was good at…penalties.
As in three in a row….personal foul, personal foul, personal foul on the coach. Kind of hard to win when the other team is walking all over the yellow flag carpet into the end zone. Will Muschamp is a hothead and clearly he controls his players no better than his temper. Florida chumped out, embarrassing the SEC and breaking bowl pick ‘em pools everywhere (including mine).
Then came New Year’s Day. The SEC was a shocking 1-2 and people were starting to talk. Then Mississippi State and their no-neck coach down Southeast rolled into town to play the nerdiest school this side of the Commodores…the Theorizing’ Wildcats of Northwestern.
Northwestern hasn’t defeated a bowl opponent since Dewey defeated Truman or rather Truman defeated Dewey in an upset. I guess they were hungry. I guess they figured out an algorithm that forecasted their victory. Or perhaps they consulted the forced with their plastic light sabres or held a séance which guaranteed their offensive prowess. Or maybe…just maybe they figured that Mullen’s mullets were the most overrated team in the country with a baby schedule and hammered them.
I have to say of all the SEC losses that one was the best. I’m of the school of thought that you hold your nose and root for the whole conference…but still as an Ole Miss alumnus, this one was pretty funny.
The problem was, that left the SEC looking bad. All the usual network talking heads were jumping on the idea that this was a bad year for the SEC. But while the bulldogs were getting chased up the tree by the ‘Cats other better teams were taking care of business.
Taking Care of Business
In a well-predicted shootout the Georgia Bulldogs were duking it out with the Nebraska Cornhuskers. On the one hand Georgia could have been feeling a let-down after coming close to a BCS title shot after losing to Alabama. On the other hand, Nebraska is a pretty tough Northern football team with size, speed, good coaching, and NFL prospects.
In Georgia’s favor Mark Richt has a disciplined team. While he blew last year’s bowl he had his team prepared to air it out with the best of them. If you can hang with Alabama, well then you can hang with anybody. Also in their favor was Aaron Murray a pocket style passer with a first round draft selection to Oak-Cleve-land in his not too distant future. While Nebraska could air it out too, they didn’t have the defense that the Dawgs were bringing and the SEC notched it back up.
The Tackle Heard ‘Round the World
Simultaneously the South Carolina Gamecocks were in the ring with the winged helmets of Ann Arbor. We’ve been told that Meecheegan was coming back to their former glory and could hang with the SEC. Well they didn’t really hang very long early in the year when ranked #4 and getting stuffed by the Tide and well they didn’t hang in the end against Sakir Liner.
Funny thing about winged helmets. They can fly. At least when a player wearing one gets bulldozed by Jadeveon Clowney. In the greatest Southern defensive barrage since Fredericksburg Clowney got revenged on Michigan moments after the worst call in NCAA history (not involving Notre Dame). The referee had just called a first down after a fourth down play was stopped. The ball was six inches from the first down line. The chains were clear. Six inches. That was farther than Steve Spurrier’s face was from the ref after screaming and jumping up and down after that dubious pronouncement.
At that point the game was on the line and was the SEC’s bowl dominance. A Michigan win would be a strong blow for Bluecoated football fandom. And then came the next play. BOOM!!! In a split second I saw a Michigan player get flattened and then the ball come out in a fumble. Clowney had bowled over the line, crushed the Michigan running back forcing off the helmet ten feet in the air and then palmed the football. It’s like you’re playing nerf ball with some kid, taking it easy, and then that kid kicks you in a non-cool place to kick you. You catch your breath, get mad and well take the nerf ball from the baby.
It was 3-3
Johnny Bowl Season
The next game was to be a bellwether. In a matchup of former Big 12 foes the Texas A&M Aggies were going up against Bob Stoops (the shortest neck this side of Dan Mullen) and his Oklahoma Sooners. It was supposedly even. ESPN big-time Boomer Sooners said so. Well “shockingly” the folks in Bristol, CT were wrong again.
See Texas A&M had Johnny Football. Johnny Football not only plays quarterback, throws, and runs well, and had won the Heisman…no siree. Johnny Football composed symphonies when he was 6, cornered the stock market, solved the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while riding a unicycle and juggling, has a 7.2 GPA because he teaches his own classes, rescues cats from trees, and children from burning buildings and may in fact be a child of a deity. At least according to the play-by-play men.
Well one thing is for sure, Johnny Football and the Aggies completely gutted the Sooners. The wheels of the wagon fell off. Welcome to the SEC kid. We’re glad to have you.
Yep…Even Ole Miss
Now it was Ole Miss’ turn. Say what you want about us we win our bowl games even if they’re often bowl games no one else watches.
This however is a team on the rise lead by first-year coach Hugh Freeze aka Freezus. Freeze is the Mississippi reared Archie Manning hand-picked replacement for Houston Nutt. He’s a disciplinarian, a father-figure, a good recruiter, and an excellent play caller. In other words he’s the opposite of Houston Nutt.
Ole Miss was playing their own Big East opponent in Pitt but unlike Florida the Rebs didn’t take this game for granted even though this was in Birmingham, AL. While Birmingham has the failed iron industry and empty buildings that make any Pittsburgher homesick it is in fact much closer to Oxford, MS as the sea of red in the crowd showed. A 6-6 team played a 6-6 team but of course one of those 6-6 teams had played Alabama, Texas A&M, Georgia, and LSU.
It wasn’t even close. Sure the Rebs won a BCPM Bumpus Compass Bowl in a broken stadium, in a broken town, in a part of town you don’t want to be broken down in, on the bad ratings time slot of bowl season, with a trophy that looked like pretty bad aluminum modern art. All true. But we won and got to say “S-E-C, S-E-C, S-E-C”. Mississippi State didn’t get to do that.
5-3 with Alabama and Notre Dame to go. The ultimate North vs. South contest.
That’s coming next post. Soon I promise. – SB
As promised I’m here to mock Mizzou for you…er well sort of.
I’m about five weeks late.
The thing is, how do you mock a school you know nothing about? After all, many of my war stories and satire of other fans in the SEC comes from personal experience. We all know each other, we all hate each other, but in the end (and this is VERY grudging with regards to Mississippi State), we all RESPECT each other. I’ve had encounters with just about every type of SEC creature out there. There’s always plenty of material. But…what the heck is a Mizzou?
Yes I know it’s the nickname for the University of Missouri just like Ole Miss is what a non Yankee calls the University of Mississippi. But there’s where the similarities end. I’ve never seen Mizzou in person, never followed the old Big 12 North (or Big Eight before that), spent about 5 hours in St. Louis once, and flew over the state a couple of times. I think I watched them on TV once or twice when inexplicably they had them ranked in the top five and after two or three plays lost interest.
These guys…THESE GUYS are in my beloved SEC. I don’t think so.
NOT WORTHY OF SATIRE
Friends, rather than waste too much southern fried gigabytes on the matter let me just say this. From what I’ve seen of them this past year they are dorks. And I want them out of my league.
Sure, Texas A&M is new as well. Here’s the thing. They’re in the South. Maybe not so much South-EASTERN, but they’re on the right side of the sweet-tea line even if they make barbecue out of cow instead of hog. They have history. They have tradition. They can win a game or two in conference. They even slayed the Tuscaloosa Beast right in Bryant-Denny on their first conference try. They have my attention and they have my respect.
Those other guys? I saw matching school spirit t-shirts, Glee-esque choreography in the student section, Conference USA uniforms, a smallish stadium, trash talk against err…um..Kansas…and although a “border state” a campus a little too close to Iowa for my taste. I don’t like it. No sir.
So why pray tell are they crashing our party? Let me get to the real topic at hand here. An ugly thing called conference realignment.
It’s why I’m forced to write about Missouri.
EVERYBODY REALLY HATES CONFERENCE REALIGNMENT
Tradition. It’s what makes Southern college football special. Between the Hedges, Death Valley, The Grove. War Eagle, Gator Bait, Roll Tide. Bryant, Dooley, Neyland. Manning, Walker. Cannon. We all know what those terms and phrases mean and we don’t like when they get changed up on us. I don’t know about you but I was just starting to get used to Arkansas and South Carolina.
Tradition. It’s what makes college football special in the rest of the country too. Yep, even those blue state conferences have a little history to them whether you like your helmets with wings or mini pot leaf stickers on them. And believe it or not some of those Yankee folks are just as upset at realignment as we are down here.
It has to do with putting teams from the wrong geographic area, wrong culture, and wrong playing style into a conference with a very well established sense of doing things. In other words, it may surprise you to find out that there are indeed different kinds of Yankees. And they often don’t understand or get along with one another.
Why on earth would the Big Ten take on Rutgers and Maryland?
I mean it’s one thing for the Big Ten to fudge some math take on a school or two past the number ten. Penn State was a good fit. Nebraska…pushing it a little, but still understandable. Scarlet Knights and Terps? Not so much. Really awful when you think about. Totally wrong and evil if you care about the Big Ten (or are pretending to for this article in order to make a point about throwing Mizzou out of the SEC).
The Midwest is Bob Seger country. It’s hard-working, plain, earnest, and about 15 years behind the times. It’s putting on your finest pair of sweatpants and ordering up an extra helping of ranch dressing with your cheese fries darn it while apologizing for saying darn it. Rutgers and Maryland…they’re the kids dumping the ranch dressing in your lap, and giving you the finger for causing them to do it, while they’re on their way to grind dance against the chick with big hair.
It’s like Sparty went and got a barbed wire tattoo….nay two barbed wire tattoos.
What makes it worse (just like Mizzou), Rutgers and Maryland don’t add anything to your football skill set. It’s not like the bigger Big Ten schools haven’t already recruited out of those areas. In fact, both schools are likely to be cannon fodder on the gridiron against most of their new conference opponents. Nope it makes no sense. Unless…
Yep…TV markets. Maryland and Rutgers brings the conference New York and DC. Lots of television sets tuned in by folks who forgot that the Redskins and Giants aren’t playing until the next day. In return Rutgers and Maryland get to fill their coffers with TV money and also fill their half empty stadiums with alums from Michigan, Penn State, and THE Ohio State University that churns out thousands of degrees but can’t employ them in state.
So the big name schools get a few more easy “home” games, while the Sopranos extras get a chance to wet their beaks in a more prestigious and lucrative market.
Kind of like having to play Missouri and getting to count it as a conference win.
SO WHOSE FAULT IS THIS?
Short answer: Texas and Notre Dame.
Notre Dame for refusing to join a conference for football. They will be joining the ACC for everything else but football. Because lots of people really want to pay to see Notre Dame golf. Good for you ACC. It’s like you went up to the hottest girl in school, carried her books for her and helped her with her homework. But she’s not gonna go out with you because she’s just not that into you. Notre Dame wants to remain friends ACC.
Notre Dame has their own independent TV deal with NBC, and Notre Dame feels it doesn’t need to bow to any authority this side of Rome. In short, I hate Notre Dame but will spend more time pummeling them when I cover the National Championship game in a few weeks.
Then there’s the Texas Longhorns. We all knew a kid back in kindergarten who never got the concept of sharing. They always hogged the best toys or the sand box and so always ended up playing by themselves. Did you know that kid grew up to be the school president at the University of Texas?
Do y’all remember when the Big 12 had twelve teams? Do you remember when the Big 12 had a championship game which let’s say made it a bit harder for Texas to walk into a BCS game? Remember how Texas didn’t like nor feel the need to participate in such an extra round of football?
That’s because Texas feels that other schools should be honored just to have the privilege of playing in the same conference with them. Their arrogance and refusal to back conference revenue sharing (which is how Vanderbilt stays profitable in the SEC) caused Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, and Texas A&M to seek greener pastures. It got even worse when Texas negotiated their own TV network with ESPN Notre Dame style.
What’s funny is how Texas mocked Texas A&M, predicted their doom in the SEC and lack of relevance without the Longhorns pushing them around. In the end, the Aggies have done quite well, will soon out recruit Texas and will become the destination football school in the state because they play in the prestige conference.
So thanks Texas for giving us the Aggies…
but then again, now we have Missouri.
SO IF WE MUST HAVE CONFERENCE REALIGNMENT…
Okay, I understand why we have to have a little conference shuffling now and then. But why can’t we fix some of the old problems and realign conferences that make better sense culturally and geographically? I used to like the ACC. I grew up in ACC country. And I remember when the ACC game of the week was sponsored by Food Lion and showed local barbecue commercials and car dealer ads with a bit of a twang to them. That WAS the ACC…the South’s other prestige conference. The ACC ruled, still ruled, and will always rule the sport of basketball. Southern Blogger doesn’t like the game of basketball but without a doubt that is their thing. Then they tried to compete with the SEC and put together a prestige football conference. They picked up Miami and Virginia Tech in the hopes of giving Florida State a little thing called competition.
Well a lot has changed since 2 Live Crew was getting banned from nightclubs and Russell Maryland was leading the country in sacks. Miami stinks. They’ve stunk for over a decade now and it looks like due to sanctions it’s going to be that way for a while. Miami to me is like getting a great deal on a 1986 Porsche. You’ve always wanted a Porsche and this one is a real classic. You might even trick it out with some custom Scarface graphics. And then you find that the engine is shot because someone filled the gas tank with cocaine. Got duped again ACC.
Then there is my second school (already covered in detail) Virginia Tech. They have a tendency to win in the ACC most years but can’t finish the bowl game. When your conference gets its butts handed to them in the bowl games it’s a sign that your conference really isn’t that tough to begin with. You know…I just don’t hear fans chanting “A-C-C , A-C-C” at the Chick Fil-A Bowl. You kind of have to win to do that.
But then the ACC decided to lose its roots and embrace Yankeedom full on. It was already bad enough having the University of Connecticut at Durham, they had to go ahead and add Boston College, Syracuse, and Pitt into their ranks. As I once said out loud in Blacksburg “you can take the school out of the Big East but you can’t take the Big East out of the school”. Certainly this helps make the conference nearly impossible to defeat in basketball. But first of all, this blog cares little for basketball, and two no amount of championships is worth doubling your quotient of hair gel in the stands. Don’t listen to Nike…just don’t do it.
But wait they have Notre Dame now….oh right except football. Doh!
So for several years I’ve proposed that the SEC rescue the last remaining unquestionable Southern (and football oriented) schools in the conference; Clemson and Florida State. But every time the SEC had put out feelers to those schools they get rejected. Wouldn’t Clemson and Florida State make sense in the SEC? They have big stadiums, a preference for the Orange Bowl over the Math Bowl, good-looking coeds, good football traditions, and the ability to actually win a game or two.
But that’s just it. A game or two. They really don’t want to risk their cakewalk schedules against Wake Forest and Boston College and replace those games with Georgia and Alabama. And so they drown in a sea of basketballs to save their easy route to the BCS. And I guess considering what happens when these schools play Florida and South Carolina you can’t totally blame them.
Yes I can…it’s another reason why we have Missouri.
SO WHOSE FAULT IS THIS? (BIG PICTURE)
Ultimately we can only blame the real gangsters behind the scenes, the Big conference commissioners. These are the guys who negotiate the big TV deals and levy fines and sanctions against their member schools. These are the guys that ensure that the same five schools seem to curiously keep making it to the end. They are the real powers behind the throne. Nobody really remembers what these guys actually looks like or what their names are (unless you are THAT sidewalk alum that pays $49.99 a month to read recruiting updates) so I will make it easier for you. I visualize the heads of the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, and Pac 12 as Tony Soprano, Boss Hogg, Jimmy Hoffa, and Michael Bay.
Think about it. Do these men care about the consumer…the fans, alumni, and students of their respective institutions? I doubt it. What they care about it’s the increasingly gray area of the professionalization of college sports. I blame these guys for screwing up all the traditions and classic schedules of our regional conferences.
And Notre Dame and Texas too!
And of course now we have Missouri.
I think the reality of the last decade or two of college football shows me that this conference realignment is far from over. Who knows how soon it will end? On a positive note, it will likely give us a de facto playoff system with the winners of a few mega-conferences duking it out. But in the end we will be lest with a less Southern SEC, and ACC spreading west of the Atlantic, a less Pacific Pac 12, and a Big Ten that really doesn’t add up. There will be winners and losers in all of this. Certainly one has to blame the SEC office for being the cause of much of this, as well as the other big conferences. They don’t seem to care about the very people who love their product. It’s just going to be too hard to accept some teams in the regular season chase.
The winners will be the big conferences who will get ever-increasing revenue and TV deals and ensure their teams championship success. The losers will be the smaller schools that will have to either drop down a division or drop college football. The poor Big East will be forced to have teams on the West Coast, Gulf Coast, Appalachia, as well as the northeast. Travel costs will soon make this arrangement unprofitable and the conference will go the way of the old Southwest Conference (which Texas also screwed up). Every time they get that twelfth team Charlie Brown style, another conference swoops in and picks up the football.
And that is why we have Missouri.
We’ll cover more familiar football topic in the next few weeks with my guides to the SEC championship game, and of course the showdown between Alabama and Notre Dame aka Revenge for Gettysburg.
– Southern Blogger
As I’ve mentioned before I learned a lot of things from my time at Ole Miss. Besides bourbon smuggling, bow tie wearing, frat tabbing, mud riding, bottle throwing, fight song singing, and hob knobbing, I learned the art of procrastination.
Yep, it’s Tuesday night going on Wednesday as I’m writing this. Two days late. My excuse(s)? Well I was out of power, then restored to power, then had to help someone move (esp. since he’s the reason I got to post last week), then indoctrinated my nephew for his birthday by taking him to a baseball game and converting him to SEC football, and then there were all the games on TV…and…and…
Well, I’ve finally finished my cartoons and am ready to bring you my third and final installment of the “Guide to the SEC” Trilogy (although there may be prequels at a later date). In this issue, which I dedicate to fans, students, and alums of the other 11 SEC schools, I will tell of the things I’ve learned from watching, arguing over, and fighting in, games with y’all. While we may have been on opposite sides of that “war” we call Saturday football, we as fellow warriors share some of the same stories and observations. Such as…
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Down Here Some Folks Take Football Seriously, Very, Very Seriously!
The first SEC game I ever attended was in the Fall of 1996. After spending my first two Ole Miss games watching cakewalk opponents (yes Ole Miss once took care of those easily) I was a tad overconfident in my school’s ability to defeat any foe. And then came Tennessee. It was going to be a home game…but the home game was played in “neutral” Memphis (much closer to Oxford, MS than Knoxville) and you know we had that “home field advantage”.
Well folks, I learned quickly that when you step two yards into the state of Tennessee, you are in Vols Country. And by Vols Country I mean folks decked out in orange so bright it makes your eyes bleed. I also realized that a school on probation, with walk on players, which Ole Miss had to deal with due to certain infractions, was no match for a Peyton Manning Tennessee squad. Yep, that Peyton Manning.
I should tell you before that date I used to like the color orange and the song “Rocky Top”. In fact Rocky Top is quite stirring the first time you hear it played by their band. But they play it after every first down, 3 yard run, kick return, timeout, fumbled snap, punt, TV timeout, and so forth and so on. After a 48-3 drubbing I can still see Peyton’s throws and hear that dang song in my nightmares.
Yes folks they take their fight song and blaze orange very seriously. And it gets worse when you head into Neyland Stadium which I finally managed to do last year. I was a little blueberry in a bowl of oranges. Ole Miss stunk the place up and I heard Rocky Top a lot.
Yet every team in the SEC has their traditions they take seriously. My own school in fact used to before the current administration came to power.
Take for example the University of Georgia. Those Georgia folks are quite fond of a canine called UGA. “Uga” is bulldog royalty. I think they might be on their 10th one now. His dog house is larger than the school president’s and possibly Hershel Walker’s. Students must clear the path lest he be forced to move his paws and exert himself too much. I believe he even has graduate assistants who must taste his food lest any Harvey Updyke type have any nefarious ideas. And to all of us in this conference this is quite understandable. Especially fear of crazed “Bama” fans.
Speaking of…of all the crazies in the SEC they do crazy 100 x worse in Tuscaloosa. Winning 7 or 14, or 106 national championships (depending on who you ask) brings you a lot of fans. The drunkenness that comes from winning is far more potent than any smuggled 4th quarter bourbon.
My first live experience with the “Bama-Waggoners” came during my sophomore season (yeah I said season). By then, I had a few games under my belt and understood the tailgating culture, and what to expect from visiting fans as far as parking, partying, trash talking etc. At least I thought I did. Most visiting fans would arrive on Friday before a Saturday game. We knew as students that our own administration would sell us out and our commuter parking in order to cash in from the visiting RVs. That was fine by us since it gave us a legitimate excuse to skip class (esp. since we were already planning to do). The Bama fans came in quite early, as in Tuesday night, Wednesday morning early. They took over our entire campus with fleets of RVs. I had to walk an extra 30 minutes to get to class and was late a few times.
So folks, by my account I had every right then to spend the next couple of nights making noise in the Bama RV park, esp. at 3 AM, and pilfering annoying RV magnets. Yes I admit it, but remember, there’s also a statute of limitations! And yes they beat us, beat us bad, with Shaun Alexander, and I got even madder. My roommate and I had quite the collection on our fridge.
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Football Brings Out my Inner Jerk
As you can already tell, college football brings out the inner jerk in your normally mild mannered and polite Southern Blogger. As I became more adept at SEC culture and had attended a few years of games I became more familiar with our opponents. I would research them weeks before the game. By research I mean learn all the gossip, scandals, and funny player names to use against them. I also had my standby taunts.
For example, it always annoyed me that we could never beat Auburn. At the time we were at the same level as them. Same type of team, same personnel, same type of fans, same record, they even had our former coach. And yet, we’d lose to yet another school from the state of Alabama, and I’d be pretty ticked. So when I exited the stadium to their trash talk and to their plethora of pom-poms (no one loves pom-poms quite like Auburn) I would throw back the only thing I had left, a cheap yet effective shot. I’d yell “Roll Tide”. It never failed to bring out scowls and epithets.
But Auburn was mild in comparison to my utter contempt for LSU. Man oh man, was LSU my favorite game. I’m talking a real rivalry, one in which you had a real chance of being arrested or put into a coma. Their fans and students would drive up from “Red Stick” pretty early in the week. I could tell many of them would be out looking for a fight. They’d go into stores and restaurants in Oxford ready to start trouble. And trouble would ensue to be sure.
During games in those days, as mentioned before, our student sections were near each other. I’d see dozens of people getting carted off to jail on both sides, and hundreds of bottles and cups whizzing through the air. I even got hit by friendly fire.
And they were obnoxious! (Well so were we ha ha) Once after a touchdown one of their students stole Colonel Reb’s cane (10 years before he became our chancellor) and was dancing profanely with it. For the first and only time in my life I rooted for Cobra Security and police brutality. One of our guards who looked like he used to play football, leapt into the crowd, threw a few punches and the cane was retrieved. Anyway we won some and lost some, but I hand it to the LSU faithful…they were the most fun to hate on. Which reminds me that…
No Matter What, Some Folks Will Just Plain Hate You!
Yes, by hate I mean Mississippi State. State has a complex. They are the “people’s” college, the land grant school that represents all of Mississippi…or at least Mississippi’s cattle industry. And they emphasize this point with their enthusiasm for the cow bell. Cow bells were illegal, but so was bourbon and that always got by the geniuses at Cobra. They’d ring them and clang them, and belt mono-syllabic (that means one-word for those of you from State) insults and cheers.
Man they were annoying! To get to the game you had to run a gauntlet of their sidewalk alums decked in camo and mud. They’d shout stupid nonsense about “Winning the fight” on the field a year ago (they didn’t) and how they were real Mississippi and not into “book learning”. So they were the “anti-college” that represented the parts of the state that don’t get in the travel brochures.
I hated them and everything they stood for. I’d go hoarse making fun of them and quoting from the movies Deliverance and Sling Blade quite liberally. In fact, during my senior year, during an imitation that lasted the whole game, I once had Billy Bob Thornton’s Sling Blade Character “Carl”, apply, graduate, attend graduate school, and become a professor at Mississippi State. Our folks laughed, theirs didn’t get it.
Ughh…State….anyway in my last game as a student me made a 20 point 4th quarter comeback. That was a fond memory.
For the record I used the same material for Arkansas, esp. after watching in shock as their fans did a call the hogs “Sooey” cheer. Pretty scary stuff. I just emphasized the “Squeal like a pig” Deliverance lines a little more.
Those fans sure were annoying, but that wasn’t half as bad as being “too nice”.
Some Folks Just Don’t Belong…
…in the SEC that is. You come to expect a certain amount of mutual “hate” during games. In fact I thrived on it and looked forward to it. It’s the reason I’ve always found Big Ten and ACC games disappointing. They missed that combat factor.
So I was in for a real shock when I attended my first game at Vanderbilt. Vandy was an ideal locale for a good road trip. Nashville was 5 hours from Oxford, I like classic country music, Vanderbilt was an easy win (back then), and tickets were easy to come by. Real easy.
Nobody went to Vanderbilt games to root for Vanderbilt. Even the city kids they gave thousands of free tickets to. So that was weird, as was fact that the tickets had children’s cartoons on them rather than former players or coaches etc. Even weirder was the first Vandy students I saw while walking up to the game were not tailgaters but “artsy types” in all-black having a street theatre performance. But even that wasn’t the weirdest.
No friends, the oddest thing was the pre-game ceremony. Their band marched over to our section as their P.A. Announcer welcomed us to the game as “guests”. Then they played our school’s fight song. Man, I had NO RESPECT for that. LSU and State would never stoop so low. So after we pummeled them it didn’t feel as fun.
Thankfully a recent return to Vanderbilt showed me some changes. They have more fans, they have SOME students that are like the rest of us, drunk, profane, and into football, and they stopped sucking up to their visitors.
Still there are just some things that shouldn’t be in the SEC. Like the fact that Florida could win championships with a guy who cried and was too touchy feely. Or how Kentucky actually pays their basketball coach more than the football coach (that’s weirder than Vandy caring about academics). But the most un-SEC team to me is South Carolina. Whenever I see them in person or on TV they rub me the wrong way. See, the state of South Carolina is as Southern as it gets. I love Charleston, devour shrimp and grits, agree that Carolina girls are among the best in the world, and can rock out to some Wilson Pickett. So it’s beyond weird that the state that brought us Vanna White and Preston Brooks has a flagship school that raves to techno at the start of the 4th quarter. Their “traditions” seem very recent, very school-sponsored and very Kansas State like. I see lots of gel hair, tight t-shirts, official school sponsored (as in safe and PC) gear, and hear electronic music, choreographed cheering, and a general lack of SEC trash talk.
I don’t know….they’ve only been around us for 20 years. It takes at least 50 to build up a decent rivalry or worthy fight song. Still, if I had my druthers we’d trade them to the ACC for Clemson. At least Clemson gets football culture.
Well folks, I’ve prattled long enough about my thoughts on the SEC. Know this, despite it all; I admire the students, alums, and fans of the other schools. Since my gradation from Hotty Toddy U. I can count LSU, Georgia, and Auburn alums amongst my closest friends, talk football every Sunday with my Tennessee Vol loving pastor, had pleasant visits recently to UT, UK, and Vandy, have had friendly run-ins with State grads, and always pay attention when a certain Florida alum is reporting from the sidelines. So despite it all, while I don’t quite count them as brothers and sisters, the other schools’ folks are at least misguided cousins. But hey, that makes us all family.
And whoever’s playing come bowl season, you’ll hear me chant “S-E-C, S-E-C, S-E-C”.
– Southern Blogger
Next Week, hopefully on time, I will begin a new series with So You Wanna Write…a Country Song.
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Going to Church on Saturday
Can’t you just smell it? The crisp air, the falling leaves, and the sweet smell of bourbon! It’s college football season down in the South. You see, Southerners have two religions: One we do on Sundays throughout the year, and the other, where we worship at “cathedrals” that on Saturdays become the third largest cities in our states. This weekend is our upcoming “Holy Week” whereby pilgrims filter in from their dorms, frat house, farms, towns, and neighborhoods in order to commune with their coreligionists (even the “Sabanic” Alabama fans). Ah, the first week of football season!
Now by football season, I’m of course speaking of the SEC or Southeastern Conference. I don’t know what you call what those other teams and conferences are doing, but it ain’t football. Well now friends, (and former friends who are mad I insulted their schools) you can’t hear my accent (or put-on accent) on the internet. There’s a difference between the word “foot, comma, ball” which is played up north, and “Foo-Boll” which is what we play down in the SEC. I’m going to be writing about the latter (surprise, surprise).
Like everything else, we do things a bit different down here. And like food, manners, leading battles, writing novels, and producing beautiful women, we do some things much better. Football is another of them. I didn’t grow up in SEC country, but when I attended Ole Miss in the fall of 1996 I became a convert to this new religion…and what is it that they say about the zeal of a convert? So here is my guide for anyone who wants to know what it’s like to attend a game in the SEC. Sure it will be a bit Ole Miss biased, so there won’t be a lot of talk about winning championships and such, but I think the fellow faithful of other schools will get what I’m talking about, and will have shared similar experiences.
When I first went to Ole Miss I got my student season tickets within the first two days of school (See The South Will Blog Again, Guide to the SEC, Back to School Edition). I stood in line and received my envelope of tickets, a total Noob to the football culture that awaited me. Sure, I knew there would be some good games ahead of me as I peaked inside and noticed the Auburn, LSU. And Mississippi State games, names of teams I had seen on TV, but really, I had no idea just what a big deal this would turn out to be.
At the time Ole Miss had a bit of a primer as to what to expect. On my initial campus visit (which had an evangelistic fervor to it) I was informed that Ole Miss students dressed up for football games, and told about some of the school traditions, fight songs, and cheers. I was also informed about the Grove. So for my first game I put on an Oxford shirt, khakis, a necktie, and my white (eventually to be sweat stained brown) Ole Miss “bar cap”. This was to later be my game day “uniform” and a part of my Saturday morning ritual. I then walked from my dorm with some friends and first entered the Grove.
Sunday Best and Student Sections
The Grove (always capitalized) is a wooded park-like area of campus, surrounded by some of Ole Miss’ oldest school buildings. It to me is what the South is supposed to look like but doesn’t always live up to. It was intoxicating. I saw the students dressed in their “Sunday best”, the gorgeous coeds wearing their sorority “hearts” the Rebels stickers, heard the band playing “Dixie”, a lot (not that I ever minded), the generations of alumni, the smell of fried chicken and whiskey, and the general aura of camaraderie, rivalry, and ease of manners that comes from shared ritual.
The Grove takes football tailgating and classes it up Kentucky Derby style. I couldn’t imagine wearing jeans and a t-shirt to the Grove or to a football game ever. I know that sounds strange to lots of people, and sounded really strange when I informed people at my graduate school, Virginia Tech, of my way of life. But once you’d been to the Grove you don’t tailgate on asphalt.
There was lots of tradition that both warms my heart and makes me sad today when I think back. Sad because several poltroons of the highest order have taken it upon themselves to ruin the school in the name of the almighty Nike. What I can tell you was that back in the day, I and many others would listen to the band play our fights songs, then we’d do the “Hotty Toddy” cheer, and after playing “From Dixie with Love” which combined Dixie and the Battle Hymn of the Republic would march out to the stadium, somewhat inebriated, full of hope (and a little piss and vinegar) ready for the Rebels to charge and take down those Yankees, even if those “Yankees” were hardly Yankees at all.
Oh, but then I got to the stadium and got my first taste of the militant law and order culture that pervades the leadership of my alma mater. I had student tickets. The good news was that it gave me 50 yard line seats for $5 a ticket. The bad news was having to enter through the student gates. There one had to run the gauntlet of a cadre of private security known as “Cobra Security”. They were kind of like the villains from G.I. Joe only with redneck rather than quasi-Eastern European accents. The more dressed up you were, the more you looked like a “typical Ole Miss student” the more you got manhandled and strip searched. The cause… looking for smuggled bourbon. If you gave those folks any “guff” you might get a thump on the head or some mace.
In any case, I got to hand it to the Ole Miss students. Some of the same guys who flunked science or who would fail engineering miserably were experts at concocting and designing elaborate systems to smuggle in their whiskey. This included soft plastic flasks, tube systems, items with false bottoms, and let’s just sat “strategic placement”. The easiest way to smuggle in bourbon was to bring a date. Ole Miss girls were “bourbon mules”. Now ladies…I don’t mean to say you looked like mules, far from it, but am explaining how women were able to smuggle whiskey “across the Cobra-can border”. The way they did it was to place a bottle underneath a row of “feminine items” which no good ol’ boy wanted to touch, and they were through. Sadly, I think they wised up and started hiring some rough looking gals to search the women.
Now about those Ole Miss girls….I love them and always will. Girls in the Deep South KNOW football. I always say the ideal Southern girl looks like Reese Witherspoon and throws like Peyton Manning. And these women understand the game! You won’t hear them ask “what does a two point conversion mean?” or “when is halftime?” or “what’s going on honey?” No, what you’ll hear is “You @#$%# suck (insert player name here)!” or “I can throw better than that!” or shut the @#%# up (insert team rival here)!”
The camaraderie was another thing. Even people who didn’t talk to each other or get along with each other in class, for no other reason that they were strangers or of a different major etc. became your “family” during the game, especially a rivalry game. I’ve seen our students get jumped and guys from rows back jump in for the rescue, or other pieces of etiquette like sharing your bourbon, or helping to shield other fans from the security when they were filling their cups of Pepsi with it. There was also a shared misery of losing, shared joy of winning (one of the few acceptable times down there to hug another guy) and the mutual cynicism of a school that is the Charlie Brown of the conference. So yeah, I saw as many losses and wins, and you know what? So what! We partied harder, and classier, and with more style than any other team in the country. Or at least we once did.
I Used to Hate Some of my Best Friends
This brings me to the other fans. Look, this piece is about you too. (I hate you all but I also respect you) See, you hate them, and I mean HATE them during game day, but after it’s all said and done they were just like us. It’s sort of like Catholics, and Presbyterians and Baptists are branches of the same faith. We have our differences but we aren’t “heathens” like the &@#$# Big Ten! So since my graduation I’ve become great friends with alums of other schools, even the most hated ones. They’re the only people who get what I’m talking about.
Now there are three types of rival fans. The first, silliest and easiest to make fun of are the “sidewalk alums”. The name comes from them coming no closer to campus than the sidewalk, i.e. never were students. These are the fans you stereotype in order to make fun of the students at the other school. Almost every SEC school is embarrassed by their “Sidewalk fans”. Of all of them, and I’ve seen them all, the Alabama ones are the craziest and scariest. Of course they are also the most numerous and winningest which brings out the crazy. But here’s the deal…many sidewalk alums donate a lot of time and money to the schools they love and root for. And that money gets back to cleaning up the campus and paying for the facilities the students use. And when push comes to shove, a “sidewalker” can be a great friend indeed in a fight.
The second type is the other school’s students. They are your peers and the most likely to fight you. The toughest in my experience were the LSU students. They didn’t back down at all. Hated ‘em, respected the @$%# out of ’em! In my day, the Ole Miss administration placed our student section, and the visiting student sections next to one another (they’ve since been moved to opposite endzones). This meant there was only a ten foot “no man’s land” between the two sections. This meant after every big play, or controversial call a hail of bottles, cups, or any throwable item would fly through the air. Back to LSU…they were better than us, and usually beat us…which made it that much sweeter when we pulled a victory out once in awhile. I remember after one such occasion when this one brave soul decked in the purple and gold version of the “Grove attire” I told you about, flanked by two friends propping his whiskey soaked body up, stood up in front of our entire section and flicked us all off. He had tears, tears of utter rage in his eyes. He was struck with dozens of projectiles from our people, but I had to admire such courage and “patriotism” in such a suicide mission.
Then there are the alums. Some alums are passionate, but most including our own (especially our own) can be a bit boring. Maybe that’s because they’ve partied so hard in their younger days it’s all out of their system. But in any case I always used to chuckle at a certain kind. We’d have these middle aged guys, with the official coaches caps, official coaches polo shirts, pulled up khaki shorts, high socks, gleaming white sneakers, and radio headsets doing a walk of shame after every Ole Miss defeat. We used to call them “hitched up” people. These guys would go through three stages of grief. As you first walked by them, they would be in shock about a defeat that they shouldn’t have been in shock by. Then after a few minutes they would go through a brief anger period whereby they would denounce the school and vow never to return. And yet, inevitably by the end of the walk back to the RV Park, these same fans would comfort themselves with the mistaken belief that Ole Miss would somehow still win a national championship.
Ah…fun times and funny times. I wouldn’t trade those football memories for the world. To this day any time I meet a fellow alumnus anywhere in the country I will say a “Hotty Toddy” cheer, and share our similar stories. And when the weather cools, and the leaves begin to fall, anywhere I am, I begin to smell the bourbon and the fried chicken, hear the cursing, cheering, and the band playing “Dixie”, remember the 4th quarter friendships and the game day enemies, and I return to the Grove, where I’m forever 19 and ready to lead the charge.
Thanks again for reading y’all. This week I went through an earthquake, hurricane, and power outage to bring you this post a bit tardy. Thanks to a friend with power and wi-fi I was able to get this up a day late. I will return to the SEC and lampoon all those other fans of the rival schools just so you don’t feel left out in GUIDE TO THE SEC…PLAYING WELL (AND NOT SO WELL) WITH OTHERS.
– Southern Blogger
Southern Blogger just celebrated a birthday and this blog has survived into its fourth week. The semi-popularity of this semi-satirical blog I attribute to my loyal readers and their efforts to re-post and promote this little island of humor about the South from a Southern perspective; that is, from one who knows it and lives it like many of you do.
Since I’m a history major and historian by trade I definitely had fun co-blogging with some of my favorite Southerners of all time. But now we will switch gears a little bit and will get into our 4×4 Delorean with KC lights and head back to the future.
During your birthday you get a bit reflective and nostalgic. As a new generation heads back to college this week, or maybe for their very first experience, I was reminded of how I became the “Southern Blogger” I am today. It’s all thanks to my alma mater Ole Miss (pre Dan Jones) .
Don’t worry we’re getting to the humor soon.
I grew up in a Southern state…Virginia. But going down to Mississippi for the first time was a whole ‘nother level of Southern. In fact the whole SEC (Southeastern Conference for those of you who are “sectionaly challenged”) is like its own country. So I’m going to reminisce and satire the SEC from the perspective of one who was an outsider who became an insider.
Hope you enjoy!
WHAT DID I GET MYSELF INTO?
Take a look at the kid in this picture. He’s totally lost…both physically and figuratively. When you first enter college you have lots of hope, fear, and confusion. There are forms to sign, classes to find, hoops to jump through, and people to meet. Lots of people. People pushing this cause or that club, each handing you a shiny brochure. You have no idea what to do. Well, thankfully I’m here to set the young man straight and maybe any of my gentle readers.
So this guy is wondering which he should sign up first. Should he purchase his books and get ready for class? Surely that’s the way to get ahead and make good grades. After all you wouldn’t want to wait too long and have the bookstore run out of your required texts.
What about car decals? I know he’s probably heard of the parking Nazi’s that infest college campuses. Merciless Gestapo agents of the Academia/Meter Maid Complex. Better get one of those before the grace period (which varies from five minutes to five days) runs out.
Or what’s this? A sign that says college football season tickets? Hmmm. Sounds interesting…but in high school you could see all the games for little cost and just walk up to the games (I know, not y’all in Texas…you have a head start on football craziness over the rest of us).
What should he do first? Well this ain’t Duke, Harvard, or Stanford, so forget about buying the books first. In any SEC school, I can pretty much guarantee you that those books will be sitting on the shelves through most of the semester. They won’t sell out. Well, this is where I need to put an asterisk on my comments for Vanderbilt. If you are going to Vanderbilt you need to buy your books ASAP! Vanderbilt is like the nerdy kid in our conference the rest of us cheat off of during the exam.
Parking decals? Important, but you don’t build a lifetime of memories on whether or not you got fined for illegal parking or were towed. It happens…to us all. Get the decal by all means but don’t hurry.
No son, you need to get you your season tickets. In fact within two days of your arrival! We are talking less than $10 a ticket for top notch football. Future NFL stars, storied programs, national champions, tailgating, coeds in sundresses, spilt bourbon, fight songs and fights with rivals, and the best camaraderie in any part of the country. For the next 4 to 7.5 years of your life, THIS will be your real classroom!
WHEN IN ROME DO AS THE ROMANS DO…
WHEN IN THE SEC, DO AS THE GREEKS DO
In the South being social is next to Godliness. A major part of life in the SEC is Greek life…or rather the “Greek System”. Going Greek is a big deal down in the SEC. Not everyone does it, and it’s up to you…but Greeks dominate the social, political, and school spirit scenes on campus. If you choose to forego this opportunity be forewarned….The student union gets pretty boring after awhile.
It’s funny to me what passes for a fraternity outside of the South. In fact Yankee Fraternities aren’t half as good as their Dixie cousins. That’s why they call them “Frats” up there I think. For you see, the Yankee frat, is what the media and Hollywood portray the entire fraternity world as: loud, fist pumping, Ed Hardy wearing, gel haired, rope necklaced, obnoxious “Bro-heims”. Sad really.
Now when you first get to school and you consider joining a fraternity, know that in the SEC there are some pretty high standards. Some gents have it already made. Their families are known and they grew up in the region and know the routine. Others have a little bit of a learning curve. Then there are the totally clueless.
Consider this picture. There’s certainly a uniform in the South. We all know it. It’s unspoken…but it’s a way of dressing fathers teach their sons, and young men learn going to church and social functions. By the way in the South it’s not advised to wear beach attire to church. Here we have fifteen gentlemen from fifteen states depicted going through rush. Can you identity the three that don’t have a chance down South?
It’s not a hard quiz. They only have those at Vanderbilt.
It may seem vicious and it’s not for everyone, but be prepared. If you plan to rush down in the SEC don’t look like a Cheese Head, a cast member from Jersey Shore, or Laguna Beach. Be respectful, be traditional, and don’t be too much of an idiot and you should be okay. Hey…its good practice for working in an office someday.
Sororities are their own ballgame. I don’t profess to have learned all there is to learn about them. All I can tell you is that SEC sororities are filled with future Miss America’s. (My alma mater produced three thank you very much). These women smell nice, talk real sweet, and pretty much have all of us completely under their spell whether we admit it or not.
Now from what I gather, sororities teach young women skills such as drawing in curly Q’s, putting up colorful signs, power walking, collecting promise rings, and blowing up lots of balloons…and I mean LOTS.
I kid…sort of…except for the balloons part, that’s 100% true.
Thing is, these girls also have high GPA’s, great organization skills, good manners, and eons of hours doing charity work. Smart, beautiful, dedicated…I’m sold.
It does tend to get a little weird on bid day though. Man I’ve seen these girls get so excited they run into traffic and scream gibberish uncontrollably like some sort of perfume smelling, pretty mass exorcism.
Only down side is those young ladies who for whatever reason didn’t make the cut…it’s not happy times for them.
Calling it like it is folks.
DON”T BE AN EXPERT…
THEY DON’T NEED NO OUTSIDERS TELLING THEM WHAT TO DO
As for book learning…we have it down here too. It might surprise Yankees that Southerners are pretty smart sometimes…oh like when it comes time to inventing American music, writing the nation’s best literature, leading our soldiers in war, and well…writing the Constitution.
Still…there’s a difference between being smart and a “know it all”. Nobody likes experts down here/there. Big mistake! You’re going to be in a lot of general required courses your first two years. Nobody wants to be there, including the professors. I warn you. Don’t participate…or if you must keep it to a minimum. Whatever you do DO NOT raise your hand to “impress” your professor with historical inaccuracies of a Hollywood period piece five minutes before class ends on a Thursday when your school is hosting the ESPN game of the week. You will be sorry…you will be called out…you will be cursed at…you will be threatened…and you might be killed. There are frat daddies who are minutes away from a night of debauchery and you are babbling about Viking helmets. Think about it. Again, doesn’t apply to Vanderbilt.
After two years when you are in classes with others of your major…go for it. Talk it up…but still…don’t be too much of an expert (or a leftist/vegan/Hipster/collegiate activist etc.)
After a couple of weeks on campus, a lot of what I am saying will just make sense and come naturally. You will either begin to love it, or at least adapt to it, or you will soon be packing your bags.
The only really hard part for me was the first week in the dorm. Ole Miss had sex segregated dorms, and class level segregated dorms. That’s right, I was in an all freshman all male dorm with little supervision with people away from home for the first time. I heard things and saw things and even thought I saw things that I still have nightmares about. Think the scene in “Shawshank Redemption” when the inmates chant “fresh fish…fresh fish!” and you’ll get an idea what I mean.
Just stick it out. It will get better. I ended up loving it!
Now friends, there are naysayers and doubters and politically correct folks about to poo poo all I just wrote. But I speak the truth as I know it.
I went to an SEC school and I turned out pretty smart (just don’t count my typos). I have an advanced degree and work in the cultural sector. I’m even about to be published. Yeah I like being smart and around smart people. But my college days also taught me how to be “smart” in other ways. It taught me how to be social, how to talk to ANYONE, how to dress professionally, how to tell good stories, how to laugh, how to live and die for my school with camaraderie, pride, passion… and most of all how to sit down, enjoy the finer things in life, and not be in such a dang hurry.
Yeah I’ve been around since then and seen other schools.
Yeah, I’ve seen Harvard Square.
Can’t say I’m a fan of Cambridge…
But after all…I’m an Oxford man through and through.
We’ll get back to the SEC once football gets rolling with GUIDE TO THE SEC…FOOTBALL GAME DAY.