Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

SOUTEHRN LIGHTS: Not Everything Revolves around the SEC

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

SOUTEHRN LIGHTS: Not Everything Revolves around the SEC

Article excerpt

It is nearly the height of the annual college football-season craziness, and many in this mad metropolis are crazy about the Southeastern Conference.

It's a mania that comes quite naturally because the University of Alabama is one of 14 colleges who are SEC members. In fact, UA was one of the original members of the SEC, which was formed in 1932.

Moreover, for the past several years, the SEC has boasted that it has some of the finest teams, coaches and players in the United States. It is better than all the other conferences, SEC supporters say.

Maybe that's true, but I could not care less.

I'm not about to go call some sports talk show and claim that the SEC is better than the PAC-12 or the Big Ten, or what have you. I guess there's some pride in thinking that people in the rest of the country use hushed, reverential tones in speaking of the SEC but again, I could not care less.

I think colleges formed athletic conferences originally to maintain consistency of rules and to ensure the integrity of the sports. In particular, President Teddy Roosevelt was keen on reforming college football.

Good rules and sensible reforms are sometimes elusive these days, but they're OK by me. However, despite a love of the Crimson Tide that dates to my formative years (when everyone in Alabama has to choose between UA and Auburn), I can't get all excited about the SEC -- especially when I detest four of its members.

Ole Miss is all right by me, even though they've beaten us for two years running. I like Square Books and the Grove and getting all dressed up for the game at Oxford.

Georgia is OK, too. Especially since we sort of own them. Their fans are quite nice.

LSU can be rough and rowdy, but there's also a strong sense of humor about it all, and its brilliant but nutso, grass-eating coach appeals to me.

Also, after all these years, South Carolina's head ball coach (or old ball coach, whatever you want to call him) has become a kind of eminence grise, full of one-liners.

Mizzou doesn't bug me, and I'm used to scraping my shoes on the football programs at Vandy and Kentucky (though that could change). I think I'm pretty used to Arkansas, and Texas A&M was Blessed by Bear (and Gene Stallings), even though it isn't really on my radar screen yet.

However, I do not admire (as my grandmother would say) SEC football at Mississippi State, Florida, Tennessee and -- of course - - Auburn.

To my mind, Mississippi State is kind of the Uriah Heep of the SEC. It has traded for years on false humility. You want the real State? Look no farther than its beloved cowbells.

As for Florida, ask anybody anywhere else, and they will tell you that the Sunshine State has the worst fans in the SEC. The Florida program has been down for the past few years, and those fans haven't chomped as much as they usually do, but if the Gators win a few more games, it could be back to the obnoxiously loud mouths and bad attitudes. …

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