Another chapter of SEC football draws nigh; 13 straight Saturdays (with the occasional ‘look-at-me’ Thursday nighter) of pure pigskin paradise. Will the SEC make it 8 national championships in a row? The short answer is ‘probably,’ the long answer is ‘yes, probably.’ Be thankful you were born unto a team with SEC allegiance, folks. Whether your team is chip leader or perennially short stacked, you’ve still got a seat at the table. As we speak, babies are hatching in places like New York, California, Ohio, and Shively, who will live entire lives devoted to some NFL bureaucracy and the Big 10 and will one day plan road trips to places like Piscataway, NJ and East Lansing, MI, never tasting the sweet n’ spicy origins of collegiate football as it was meant to be, birthed from the loins of Mary herself…Mary Bryant that is, mother of the Bear.
SEC football is a damned circus.
A whistlestoppin, grandstandin, travelin freak show of overindulgence and slow-cooked hostility barreling down the tracks at speeds never before seen or imagined. Parading through otherwise idyllic College Town, USA, with its acrobats, marching bands, Clowneys, exotic animals, magic and illusions while its patrons hoot n’ holler with plastered on southern charm that’s instantaneously transformed into frenzy. SEC football was once the greatest show in the South, now it’s the greatest show on earth.
On paper, its value is in the billions but in reality, there’s not enough ink. There’s oil money, coal money, textile money, corporate money, smart money, new money and money so old it predates the books. On paper, it’s a series of showdowns among member institutions of higher learning, and that’s funny. For its investors it’s an arms race to an undetermined finish line. It is, quite simply, the ultimate measuring stick of superiority. A barometer of life itself. There are no pro-sport allegiances here to supplement bragging rights, and dueling is still illegal in most parts of the South. Victory, you see, is much more than another notch on the needlepoint belt.
SEC football is beautiful.
From the stately brick and lush green campuses and all those sundressed lassies, the troughs of bbq and deep fried anything, to the sight of 90k boozy parishioners gathered on hallowed grounds surrendering to the whim of unpredictability. A confluence of righteous and evil, of sophisticated and simple, of khakis and jorts, of folk heroes and scoundrels, of statesmen and Bubbas. A little bit NASCAR, a little bit country club, with a strong pour of the boondocks on top.
A storybook of athletic marvel coached by characters straight out of A Confederacy of Dunces. More than a league but a battle hymn sung from down in Dixie to the Rocky Top, through the Plains and in Between the Hedges. This is the trailhead to the National Championship. And it’s a damned circus.