Though all of us football idiots down here in the Southeast love to take pride in the fact that the Southeastern Conference has won the last six national titles, it’s important to remember than 11 out of 12 (actually, now 13 out of 14) of the teams in that conference openly loathe the individual teams that won them. Conference pride is like having pride in your children: It’s fine to bust out when someone else insults your children, but you reserve the right to insult your own children whenever you want, even loathe them openly if necessary.
So I thought I’d put this list out there just to remind my fellow SEC fans, no matter which team they root for, that nobody holds you in nearly as much esteem as you think they do. Sure, we’ll ride your coattails, but beyond that we wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire, less’n we could piss gasoline. So to speak.
Just to prove there’ll be no bias or pulled punches here, I’ll start in on my own team first. Yes, we love to brag about how we have the greatest college town in the country, the hottest girls, a fantastic tailgating scene, and one of the most profitable athletics programs in the country to boot. Know how many points all that stuff is worth in a football game? Not even one, which brings us to the uncomfortable realization that Georgia has been sitting on the outside fringes of relevance for nearly 30 years now. Yet somehow we’ve gotten it in our heads that the rest of the country regards us with something approaching awe. You know whom they regard with actual awe? Alabama, which is in a fun town and is stuffed to the gills with pretty girls but also deigns to win an actual meaningful football game every once in a while. Until we lock up that last part, Dawg fans, we’re just the SEC’s Great Gatsby: People come to our beautiful house, eat our food, drink our wine, talk to gorgeous women, have the time of their lives … and then go back home laughing about what posers we are all the same. (Meanwhile, we invariably end up face-down in a swimming pool, bleeding from multiple wounds.)
"We’re lovable ‘cause we’re drunks!" Oh, right, like nobody’s ever gotten drunk at Auburn or Florida before. Seriously, get a new shtick, and while you’re at it, get over this idea that practiced, obnoxious sociopathy is somehow excusable because it’s all alcohol-fueled and not at all how you act when you’re sober; that’s the exact same thing abusive husbands say. It’s gotten to the point where your own students think you’re embarrassing.
MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS
In some conferences, you could earn a pat on the head and a “bless your heart” for being as godawful as Missy State has been for the better part of 70 years. But we don’t do the “lovable loser” thing in the SEC, guys, and we damn sure don’t do pity. Instead, we’re just pissed at you for having sucked wind all these years without even doing us the benefit of pulling up our academic standards the way Vanderbilt has.
We know it’s hard to exist in the same state with Alabama, guys; lord knows it’s tough to exist in the same state as their fans. But like I said, we don’t do pity in these parts. Instead, we roll our eyes at you for using your little-brother syndrome as an unspoken excuse to run a program every bit as filthy as Alabama’s, and usually more so. And honestly, it’s not even the dirty-program stuff that bothers us, because again, this is the SEC, and you know a certain degree of malfeasance is always going to be winked at down here. But you can’t just own your treachery the way Bammers do. Instead, you pull out this “All In” crap and wipe away crocodile tears as you talk about how gosh-darn blessed you are to have a program that’s just, well, as much of a family as yours is. (Which I guess is supposed to explain how Cam Newton just magically flipped from Mississippi State to you guys at the drop of a hat.) Thirty years from now, that out-of-nowhere national title you won behind the likes of Gene Chizik and Ted Roof — honest, officer, it fell off the back of a truck — is going to look even sketchier than it already does.
(Update: As if to prove my point, Auburn fans, I tweeted a link to this post this morning and fans of nearly every school took their lumps in good humor. The only people — on Twitter, at least — who got huffy with me about it were Auburn fans. The only ones! Some sincere unsolicited advice, Barners — learn to laugh at yourselves, or other people are going to do it for you.)
(Update II: Whoops, now I’ve also gotten a testy response from an Ole Miss fan who’s pissed that I’m not gonna do any better on the “Colonel Reb Trivia” category on “Jeopardy.” So, apologies, Auburn fans, you’re not the only humorless fan base in the SEC, just the most humorless fan base in the SEC. Mea culpa.)
Playing “Rocky Top” after every first down. The continuing reliance on Neyland’s Seven Maxims. (“The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win?” OH, PLEASE BLESS US WITH MORE OF YOUR WISDOM AND INSIGHT, FOOTBALL CONFUCIUS.) And the orange — oh, God, the orange. “But it’s based on a certain type of flower that grew on the — ” It’s road worker construction vest orange. Christ, I’m colorblind and I can tell that. Basically, you guys are like 4-year-olds who’ve just discovered a piano — you find two or three notes and you pound away at them incessantly because that’s all you know how to do. Honey, honey, please, go play with something else. You’re not very good at this, and you’re really annoying everyone in the room.
If Georgia is the France of the SEC — a one-time powerhouse that refuses to admit nobody really gives a shit about them anymore — then Florida is North Korea. A dump of a program for decades, and then all of a sudden some wee tiny megalomaniac returns home to lead them and they just start erasing history like it never happened. Nope, never had a football program before 1990, sir. Don’t know what you’re talking about! We’ve always been good! That’s nice. South Carolina called, they want to know where they can submit their application for membership in the If It Weren’t for Steve Spurrier, We’d Pretty Much Be Mississippi State Club.
OLE MISS REBELS
As a son of the New South, I bristle whenever anyone just assumes that Southerners are racists. Except when they’re talking about Mississippi, ‘cause for reals, y’all some racists. Even the Alabama fans I know are like, “Yeah, we got some racist fans, but those people … whoooooo.” I know, I know — “Don’t say that, we’re not all like that” — but if you can’t quiet down that segment of the fan base that wants to pass statewide legislation bringing back a Confederate plantation owner as the mascot, there are clearly more of “those” people than you’d like to admit. How racist is Ole Miss? James Meredith went in there as their first African-American student and came out talking shit about the civil rights movement — and then later went to work for Jesse Helms! I’d be in awe if that weren’t so, you know, horrible on every single level. Forget the Rebels, guys, just change your mascot to the Ole Miss Fightin’ Young Black Guys We’d Never Let Our Daughters Date and be done with it. It’s a bit clumsy, yeah, but it’s honest.
Umm — what are you doing here? You’re in the Big 12. No? You left? Then clearly you meant to go to the Big Ten. There’s no way you could — no, I know somebody probably told you that, but I assure you we don’t have any room for any additional schools right now. Thank you for your interest, but — sir, I said no. No. You’re not supposed to be here! THIS IS NOT YOUR HOME!
The Kentucky football fans I’ve met — the few who can be bothered to give a crap about their football team, at any rate — are mostly excellent folks, surprisingly knowledgeable and genuinely grateful for any success that comes their way on the gridiron. The problem is that their basketball fans are complete cocksuckers, to the point where you don’t want to root for any of their athletic teams for fear that you’ll just be feeding the beast. In my experience, UK hoops fans are just as bad as, if not worse than, Alabama football fans, and just as we can’t have Alabama basketball being good because it would then create a singularity of sports-related obnoxiousness, we can’t allow Kentucky football to amount to anything either. Sorry, Wildcat fans, but y’all brought this upon yourselves.
Y’all inflicted Jerry Jones and Bobby Petrino on us. Not only that, but Bobby cheated on his wife, scored his mistress a cushy job in the athletic department, lied about the whole thing — and y’all threw a shit fit when he got fired! “OK, yeah, yeah, he has no morals whatsoever and may have done tangible harm to our football program by giving his blonde bimbo an unearned position that had actual responsibility for recruiting … BUT THE BALLS ARE SO PRETTY WHEN HE MAKES THEM GO UP IN THE SKY.” And you wonder why the rest of us think you’re so weird. This is why you can’t have nice things, Arkansas.
ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Nobody was more righteously indignant over Auburn’s bought-and-paid-for national title than Bama fans were, and Lord knows they had their reasons, but here’s the thing, Bammers: Y’all bought your title(s), too, by backing that dump truck of cash up to Nick Saban’s door back in 2007 — only that just happens to be legal in the NCAA’s eyes. And no, there’s nothing wrong with hiring a mercenary to lead your troops, particularly when he’s that good, but when Saint Nick won you that first title in 2009, y’all didn’t even have the bare minimum of social graces to act grateful for it. No, y’all just sat back with that smug “Order has been restored” grin on your faces, as if your program was chosen by God for riches and success and the preceding 30 years or so had been an aberration. You sorry, sidewalk-ass, entitled motherfuckers. Y’all are the people who throw hissy fits at the Burger King drive-thru window when they only put 10 little packets of ketchup in your bag rather than 11.
SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS
We were almost rid of Steve Spurrier, you dumb bastards. We were almost rid of him, but you brought him back, and now we have to hear that nasal voice cackling at us every week. “Oh, you just hate him ‘cause he’s a badass and we’re good now.” Well, first of all, ‘Cocks, you’re not that good — where’s your SEC title ring at? Thought so — but second of all, Spur Dog’s not that big a badass, either. Don’t get me wrong, he was hilarious back in the ’90s when he was shit-talking other coaches to their faces and making wisecracks at Media Days, but now all he does is whine. Whines about his schedule, whines about the media, whines about how everyone else disciplines their players. The fact that you think this bitchy little church biddy is such a tough guy speaks volumes about the standards your football program has set, and the problem is we can’t even laugh about it because now we’re all stuck with him.
Second verse, same as the first. “You just hate us because now we have a good coach who’s not afraid to talk smack to people!” Again, Vandy, you’re not that good — a losing record is a losing record, even if it’s a damn sight more respectable than what y’all usually accomplish — and what y’all see as the rest of the conference shaking in its boots at the sight of James Franklin is really just the rest of us trembling as we try to keep from laughing. Franklin may see General Patton when he looks in the mirror every morning, but I promise you, Vandy fans, what the rest of us see is a guy who looks like Humpty Hump from Digital Underground and has the gravitas of Steve Urkel. (Maybe even less at this point — have you seen Jaleel White lately? Motherfucker is cut.) Yeah, he got y’all to play a number of tough teams close last year, but then he’d invariably ruin it all by throwing a tantrum at the end. And as with South Carolina, if that’s what passes for toughness in your neck of the woods, that really says more about your program than it does about anyone else’s.
TEXAS A&M AGGIES
You threw a tantrum because Texas was the hot one all the boys liked, and nobody would pay attention to you and tell you what a pretty pretty princess you were, and this caught the attention of Mike Slive because Mike Slive apparently has a thing for insecure divas, and he got hard at the thought of all that TV money he could get by having a foothold in the Texas TV market, and … here we are. That’s the only reason you’re here, Aggies — nobody else, and I mean nobody, wanted you. We were fine, we were already the premiere conference in the country, and now we have 14 teams and a fucked-up schedule and you’re making some of us drive out to College Station every other year. YOU’RE THE SEC’S YOKO, TEXAS A&M. YOU RUINED EVERYTHING.