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SEC Banter: Preseason optimism is right on the money
Ben Prevost writes SEC Banter weekly for The Times during the college football season.

Optimism abounds as SEC football nears kickoff.

And why not? Even third-tier SEC programs (you know deep down who you are) are unblemished, undefeated. If not cause for optimism now, when?

It’s time to dream, and dream we do. We dream of sharp blue autumnal skies, crisp afternoons, tailgates, seas of knee-high boots, good food and drink, touchdowns and goal-line stands and revelry and stadiums brimming with tradition and marching bands and tons of wins and championships, dammit.

Optimism sustains us and keeps us coming back for more.

For example, I’m optimistic the next time I see former NYC policeman Eddie Mahoney, n/k/a Eddie Money, in concert, he’ll put on a helluva show.

I’m optimistic that the four, hopefully five times I honcho Mexican food this week will help me settle on the best local cheese dip. A thorough evaluation is necessary.

In an abrupt, perhaps too sappy shift after a cheese dip reference, I’d like to think our children are testament to our optimism as a people. Why have children if not for a fundamental belief that the world is, at its core, a good and decent place, and its future is better?

My favorite quotes about optimism are from my favorite American, Ronald Reagan.

In his farewell letter to the American people announcing his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, the man who sparked our national rejuvenation during the greatest decade of all time wrote:

“When the Lord calls me home, I will leave with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future … I know that for America, there will always be a bright dawn ahead.”

It damn near brings a tear to my eye.

Fans of Southeastern Conference football share a different, albeit similar, optimism with the 40th President, as all signs point to continued bright days ahead for the finest conference in college football.

Alabama is ranked No. 2 in the preseason AP poll, to the surprise of no one except Nick Saban, who expected to be No. 1. Georgia is No. 3, Louisiana State No. 6, Florida No. 8, Texas A&M No. 12, and Auburn No. 16.

Teams like Missouri — who could very well be undefeated heading into a November tilt at Georgia — and Mississippi State are poised to make noise.

Now, we know what preseason polls are worth: the price of an ACC Championship Game ticket, roughly $2-$3.  Regardless, the Southeastern Conference remains the deepest from top to bottom, and its fans, the most optimistically fervent.

Over in Tuscaloosa, ‘Bama fans think Saban walks on water, perhaps rightfully so, as the Tide will roll into yet another College Football Playoff.

Some Georgia fans already have two tickets to paradise (in this case, New Orleans) for the national title game.  Not sure whether that’s confident or cocky, but it’s surely optimistic.

Baby hold on, say Florida fans, as the Gators come off a 10-win campaign under Dan Mullen’s stewardship (they play Miami this Saturday, as in real college football two days away!).

Down in Baton Rouge, Death Valley will be shakin’ and, if the Tigers notch a win over top-10 Texas in week two, the bayou will be ablaze.

On the Plains of Auburn, East Alabama Male College fans wanna go back to Gus Malzahn’s glory days of contending for SEC and national titles.

College Station dorks are all amped up with their cheer squads and twelve men and whatnot, and think they’re in love with Jimbo Fisher and his $75 million contract complete with country club membership and use of two luxury cars.

Indeed, late August optimism is swelling ‘cross the sweltering South.  Here’s hoping all that optimism is right on the (Eddie) money.

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