Chaos reigned supreme in the SEC last week. No. 6 LSU, No. 7 Texas A&M, No. 11 South Carolina, No. 15 Georgia, and No. 22 Florida all went down in flames. Suddenly we’re looking at a Missouri vs. Alabama SEC championship game if the Tide emerges from the Iron Bowl unscathed.
Following Saturday’s monumental upsets, I’d planned grandiose praise for the likes of Missouri and Auburn, while chastising Georgia’s un-special special teams and lampooning Les Miles for being, well, Les Miles.
Naturally, I turned to the wondrous world of the internet for fodder to prop up the upstart SEC teams and further embarrass those teams that embarrassed themselves.
My efforts turned into something else altogether. I discovered a previously unknown universe of SEC football factoid geekdom. I discovered game notes.
What are game notes, you ask? Nothing short of enormous compilations of information produced by SEC football programs every week of the season, often obscurely placed on teams’ websites. These public relations puff pieces have a sole purpose: going to great lengths to tout the success of each SEC program’s storied history.
Makes you feel for Kentucky’s game notes staffer. What is he supposed to write? With that much experience dealing in pure drivel, he may have a future career as SEC Banter.
In any event, the notes are so densely jam-packed with random facts and tidbits that I question whether they’re completely made up. Want to know the last time your team wore dark socks? Hit the game notes. How about your team’s record in away games in partly cloudy conditions when the temperature is above 75 degrees? The game notes have the answer.
One team’s notes detail how its head coach met his future wife at a Las Vegas blackjack table. Let’s face it, you cannot credibly claim to love your SEC school unless you know how your coach met his wife.
If planning our fall calendars around SEC schedules and basing our happiness on whether groups of 18-21 year-old guys advance a ball across a line wasn’t absurd enough, now we have game notes to add to SEC football’s lovable absurdity.
I suspect most of you have not immersed yourselves in game notes because you are not nerds. An SEC Banter tour of selected game notes is the non-nerdy way to enjoy this truly absurd aspect of the nation’s finest football conference.
Here we go.
A theme of Tennessee’s game notes is building a strong foundation under new head coach Butch Jones. Direct quote from the Vols’ game notes: “[Butch] Jones knows, when you want to successfulling build something, you need to have a solid foundation.”
Insert your joke about the Vols’ solid spelling and grammar foundation here.
A theme of Alabama’s game notes is that Nick Saban fields a team of highly effective lethal robots.
The Tide’s notes point out that during its 52-0 blowout of Arkansas last week, Alabama was not penalized once, did not give up a single sack, and committed not a single turnover. Robot perfection.
All SEC Banter sarcasm aside, this stat from Bama’s notes was breathtaking: Alabama senior signal-caller AJ McCarron has as many BCS National Championship Game wins (2) as he does losses as the Tide’s starting quarterback. Just let that sink in for a moment. Incredible.
Given that the game notes are one big, long infomercial (Florida’s notes are a pithy 76 pages), I’m surprised that some schools’ notes include less than flattering facts.
For instance, Vanderbilt’s notes from the Georgia game declare that the Commodores’ television appearance on CBS was their eighth since 1955.
By my math, that means Vandy appears on CBS roughly every 7 years. Congratulations!
Georgia’s notes remind fans that the Dawgs had zero passing yards against Auburn back in 1976, that Quincy Carter threw 5 picks against South Carolina in 2000, and that Georgia Tech honchoed over 400 yards rushing and 32 first downs in Athens in 2010.
And how’s this for a smattering of totally random SEC knowledge? From LSU: in games coached by Les Miles in which the Tigers amass 600+ yards, LSU is 0-0. That’s right, in the parallel universe of game notes, it’s perfectly acceptable to include stats from games that have never happened.
From South Carolina: the Gamecocks have fielded a team every year in the past 107 years except in 1893 and 1906. Unfortunately, the notes do not explain what happened in the fateful years of 1893 and 1906, which is very un-game-notes-like.
From Ole Miss: the Rebels are 60-143-2 all-time against top-25 teams and have not won a Southeastern Conference title since John F. Kennedy was president.
From Florida: our team is a dumpster fire and we’re headed to the Dog Mess Bowl.
Kidding about Florida’s notes. But, if you’re like me and were agonizing over not recalling the Gators’ largest crowd for a home opener, the game notes helpfully point out that it was against Wyoming in 2005. Phew!
Then we have the oddest game notes by far, courtesy of the Arkansas Razorbacks. The notes describe the fairytale romance between Hogs’ coach Bret Bielema and his wife, Jen. The two met at a Las Vegas casino and Coach Bielema taught her how to play blackjack “and over the next five hours they talked and won $600.”
Bielema later proposed to Jen on -- where else? -- a cruise ship. Direct quote from the Arkansas game notes: “The first night they were at a private dinner and he told her he did not want to be without her in the future and got down on one knee and proposed and turned his phone off for the week.”
This. Is. Solid. Gold! And don’t worry folks, if you’re wondering where Coach Bielema purchased Jen’s engagement ring and when he asked her father for permission to propose, the Arkansas game notes have you covered.
Game notes. Just another dimension of, shall we say, slight over-doneness in the SEC.
By the way, I may have insinuated above that game notes were for nerds. Clearly that’s not the case, and to prove it, I’m having a pizza party this Saturday night to discuss the game notes from all 14 SEC teams. Lemonade is on me. It should be a very successfulling party.
Ben Prevost is a contributing columnist for The Times. Follow him on Twitter @SECbanter or contact him at SECbanter@hotmail.com.