Southeastern Conference football returns Thursday, and I feel like a Pointer Sister in 1982:
“I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it, I’m about to lose control and I think I like it!”
It’s only Northwestern St. at Texas A&M, but hey, it beats House Hunters (although maybe not House Hunters International).
I’m excited for all that is SEC football. All. Of. It.
Heck, I’m more excited than Navin R. Johnson was when the new phone book arrived.
In all seriousness, I cannot wait for everything that is SEC football.
Give me marching bands and cheerleaders and historic outdoor stadiums in college towns and booming voices of PA announcers and cool, crisp afternoons under bright blue skies.
Give me all-day tailgates or, if in Baton Rouge, three-day tailgates. Give me old friends and high-fives with total strangers and kids throwing the football and sweaters and throngs of people slowly strolling to the stadium, anticipation and optimism swelling before toe meets leather.
Give me good food cooked from the heart with recipes that stand the test of time, like gumbo — for heaven’s sake, the gumbo!
Give me good drink and good everything and just life, darn it, lived the right way, in the present, just there in the moment and nowhere else on a fall Saturday afternoon.
Give me adoring SEC fans who love their SEC team for no other reason than because their fathers and grandfathers did so before them.
It occurred to me recently: other than manners, weather, food, music, spring invitational golf tournaments, cocktails, all-around culture, hunting and fishing, pretty girls, front porches, taste, low taxes, beaches and mountains, we don’t have too much figured out here in the South.
But I’d like to like to think we got this football thing down pat.
We play SEC football between hedges and on plains and in swamps and on bayous and in groves and on rocky top.
We play it with a 12th man and we call the hogs and we pre-game in cockabooses and we do all of this in mostly interesting places and in others of virtually no interest whatsoever except claiming 16 national championships and having the greatest coach in college football history.
We do all of this and it sounds like a game, because it is.
But we know it’s not.
We know it’s not just a game, that it’s a mirror of ourselves, of us, and our Southern way of doing things. We know this because of how this game and all its trappings makes us feel.
I could get super-duper sappy here, if I haven’t already, but won’t, because I know you’re with me on this.
I know you, too, are ready for all that is SEC football! All. Of. It.
And now to this weekend’s more noteworthy SEC contests:
No. 6 Washington vs. No. 9 Auburn: I’m just not buying Pacific Northwest football. They might know coffee and e-commerce, and that’s all well and good, but they don’t know football.
Auburn does the SEC proud with a “W” over the Huskies.
Tennessee at No. 17 West Virginia: These institutions of higher learning are more similar than you might imagine. I went to Knoxville last fall and it felt eerily similar to West Virginia, even though I’ve never been to West Virginia.
Heart says Volunteers, head says Mountaineers.
No. 8 Miami vs. No. 25 Louisiana State: An LSU win sets the tone for a decent, if not potentially surprising, season for the Tigers. A loss portends fire on the bayou for Coach Uh-Oh.
LSU pulls off the win in Big D.
Ben Prevost writes SEC Banter for The Times during college football season. He can be reached at SECBanter@hotmail.com