Have you ever visited—or met a native of—a third world country, and felt that stinging sense of guilt? Here you are, born into the land of opportunity, freedom, and Krispy Kreme cheeseburgers while they fight various forms of oppression each and every day as victims of natural born circumstance.
It’s the same unabashed remorse I feel when I meet football fans outside the SEC.
I want to help them, teach them, feed them bowls of football knowledge, but I also really want to Purell my hands of their mired hopes. Don’t take your SEC allegiance for granted folks. As we speak, young boys are born in places like New England, L.A., and Ohio, and will live entire lives devoted to some NFL bureaucracy (or even worse, the Big 10), never tasting the sweet n’ spicy origins of collegiate football, birthed from the loins of Mary herself…Mary Bryant, that is, mother of the Bear.
Another chapter of SEC football draws nigh; 13 straight Saturdays (with the occasional ‘look-at-me’ Thursday nighter) of pure pigskin paradise. Be thankful that you were born to a team in the SEC folks, be thankful.
Will the SEC make it 5 national championships in a row? The short answer is ‘probably,’ the long answer, well, it’s inside you, and has been the whole time. This is the Slant’s 4th season here at KSR and like any decent sitcom I’ll rely on gimmicky plot twists and celebrity cameos to keep your attention. We begin with a quick SEC primer, written by the keyboardist from Smashmouth. Bang!
The quaint hamlet of Florala, AL straddles the state line between south Alabama and the Florida panhandle, making it a natural ground zero for what has blossomed into the nation’s most competitive rivalry. Just so happens the juggernauts are set to clash in the regular season for the next two years, beginning in T-town Oct. 2. Both teams have survived dramatic lulls in competitiveness and now find themselves locked in a game of “can-you-top-this?”, trading licks, national championships and showing no signs of letting anyone else join in this game of power pattycake. Urb v. Nick; new school v. old school; convention v. innovation; speed v. strength. The question is, how many times will they meet this year? Also, don’t actually go to Florala…they don’t take kindly to outsiders or that city boy gospel your sellin.
L.A.T. (Life After Tebow)
A friend of mine recently asked me, “Do you think the SEC can survive without Tebow?” Yes, it was a girl.
Each summer, fans and pundits seem to always convene around a team or two they feel is “flying under the radar” but destined for a “big season.” Last year, Ole Miss rode a wave of hype all the way into the pre-season top 10, only to lose half their league games, their mascot, and in some ways, their innocence. This year, a trendy trio is climbing the charts, with Arkansas, Georgia, and South Carolina garnering national buzz as possible spoilers to the Bama-Florida parade. So it’s a good bet all three will disappoint, as trends typically fizzle out, just like the powdered wig, MySpace, and the post-coital cig.
Long lamented for cupcakey outta-conference slates, the league has collectively picked things up a notch. Joe-Pa brings his Nittany Lions into Tuscaloosa Sept 11, and even though he’ll have no idea where he is, it’s nice to see these two traditional powers reinvigorate an old rivalry of sorts (14 all-time meetings). Florida, on the other hand, will yet again not breach the state-line but do add a semi-sexy match-up with upstart South Florida Sept 11, in a game that at least has potential to be close for a half. Other new and intriguing non-con matchups include:
UNC @ LSU, 9/4
Oregon @ Tennessee, 9/11
Clemson @ Auburn, 9/18
West Virginny @ LSU, 9/25
Fresno State @ Ole Miss, 9/25
Vandy @ UConn, 9/25
UGA @ Colorado, 10/2
Georgia St. @ Florida, 11/20 (as Bill Curry becomes the first coach to lose 77-0 to Florida with two different schools)
As coaches often say, they’re always on the hot seat. But much has been made this off-season about the futures of UGA’s Mark Richt and LSU’s Hat Miles. Personally, I think Richt is safe barring a losing season, but I don’t think it’s any secret that Miles needs to put a move on the SEC West in order to stick around. Just two seasons removed from a national title, Miles has seen the momentum bottom out with hapless offense, underachieving defense and extremely questionable game management. His fate could be decided in a matter of days when UNC comes to Death Valley.
Current Vegas odds to win SEC
South Carolina +800
Mississippi State +5000
Tune in later this week as I’ll break down each division with orthopedic precision and orthopedic wit, and little to no signs of objectivity. You have one Saturday left to rest, tie-up the loose ends, and tell your woman you love her, because SEC football is one unpredictable, needy bitch.