No one likes a snob, my mother says. She’s right as usual (Ole Miss fans excepted). But if you feel the same way as I do about SEC football, you might very well be an SEC snob.
You think everything’s better in the SEC, don’t you? For example, you’d rather tailgate in the grove in Oxford, Miss., than in Columbus, Ohio. Boat drinks with the Volunteer Navy on the Tennessee River over a tailgate party in Utah. Do they tailgate in Utah?
I once attended a tailgate in East Lansing, Michigan, and asked for a bloody mary. With raised eyebrows I was handed a watery mix of bland tomato juice and bad vodka. Even the ice had that yucky freezer taste to it.
Different story at a tailgate down on the bayou in Baton Rouge. To my delight, LSU fans poured a perfectly mean concoction of Zing-Zang,Tito’s vodka, Tabasco, cracked pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and some mystery voodoo ingredient they told me not to ask about. All garnished with a celery stalk and a green bean in a purple and gold “Geaux Cup.” Ah, the SEC.
The Southeastern Conference advantage expands far beyond tailgating. You tell me who you’d rather have as a date to the big game. A Kappa from Georgia or a women’s rugby player from Wisconsin? (The Badgers do have a women’s rugby club team. I checked.)
Let’s talk stadiums. From the Swamp, to Kyle Field, to nearly every stadium in between, nowhere in the country is the passion more palpable than in SEC venues. We’re just — how to say this politely? — better.
Are we SEC snobs? Let’s probe the issue with reference to some classic movies. We could be snobby like Judge Smails of Bushwood Country Club in 1980’s “Caddyshack.” (“Danny, I’m having a party this weekend. How would you like to come over and mow my lawn?”). Maybe we’re closer to the Omega fraternity brothers in the 1978 film “Animal House,” with their snooty, holier-than-thou attitude. Perhaps our conference snobbery approaches that of Louis Winthorpe III, the wealthy financier played by Dan Aykroyd in 1983’s “Trading Places” (“This is the sports watch of the ’80s. Six thousand, nine hundred and fifty-five dollars retail!”)
There is, however, a key difference between us and these legendary movie snobs: we have reason to be proud. Look no further than this week’s national rankings for confirmation that the SEC remains the country’s finest football conference. Five SEC teams in the top 15, four in the top 10, three in the top 5, and the No. 1 and 2 teams in the nation. Of course, the brightest validation of SEC success is found in trophy cases across the Southeast, where crystal balls signify the SEC’s capture of seven of the last nine BCS national championships.
The elite media dreads continued SEC dominance. Mere minutes after USC’s loss to Stanford last Saturday, tears were shed in Hollywood and pundits proclaimed the likes of Oregon, Florida State, and even Notre Dame as title contenders. Puh-leeze. We all know the national championship is on Dec. 1 in Atlanta when either LSU or Alabama will face Georgia, Florida, or South Carolina in the SEC Championship Game.
This Saturday, meanwhile, lacks big-time SEC showdowns but I’ll still watch Georgia-Vanderbilt over Florida State-Clemson because, you guessed it, everything’s better in the SEC. In the East, South Carolina can stay in the mix with a win over visiting Missouri. Word out of Columbia, S.C. is that Flowery Branch graduate Connor Shaw will get the nod at quarterback, despite recent injury trouble. Mizzou is seeking its inaugural conference win but they’ll have to wait until the Vanderbilt game in early October. I’m calling a comfortable victory for the Gamecocks.
In the West, LSU travels to the plains of Auburn for what typically is a marquee matchup. The home team in this Tiger v. Tiger series has won 11 of the last 12 meetings. But LSU is 47-4 against unranked opponents under Les Miles and Auburn is distracted by my proposal a few weeks ago that the school merge with Clemson to form Clemburn. I’ll take the Bayou Bengals in this one.
Yes, life is good here in the SEC. The rest of the college football world might think we’re snobs. We’re not. We’re just better than them.
Ben Prevost is a contributing columnist for The Times. Follow him on Twitter @SECbanter or contact him at SECbanter@hotmail.com.