SEC fans are the best.
And the worst.
The best when it comes to filling stadiums and donating money and passion and loyalty and tailgating.
The worst when it comes to throwing trash on the field, flying banners over stadiums wanting coaches fired, calling players on their cell phones and general irrationality, myopia and delusion.
Which SEC fan are you?
Probably both, depending on how your team is doing.
It would be easy to chalk up the ugliness we’ve seen this year in Oxford or Tuscaloosa or Baton Rouge or Fayetteville or… to students or a few zealots, but many of us were students who acted just as foolishly and still do, and the incidents are far too widespread and numerous to be ignored as the work of a handful of crazies.
Now, what I’m not going to do is give you the old line about how it’s just a game and you need to have some perspective. SEC football is not just a game. Monopoly is just a game. Canadian football is just a game. You wouldn’t drive five hours each way and spend two days camping to watch just a game. But just because SEC football is a big deal, that doesn’t give you the right to act like a Mongol pillaging innocent villagers if your team gets a bad call.
You know what you think when you see West Virginia fans set couches on fire after a big win or Ohio State fans riot after a championship? You think those people ignorant, immature, jackasses. Those people think the same thing about you when you throw trash on the field or call a player on his cell phone or confront a coach after a game.
What I’m saying is, "do better."
If you want the rest of the country to think the SEC is the best conference in college football, from teams to coaches to fans, then hold up your end of the deal and don’t act like a baboon.
Acting like a civilized person and holding those around you to the same standard shouldn’t be that difficult a bar to reach.
The truth is, other than giving money, about the only thing you can do to your college football team is embarrass it.
You can embarrass it by acting like an overtired nine-year-old at the stadium and throwing things. You can embarrass it by acting like an internet predator and searching out players’ cell phone numbers on line. And you can embarrass it by calling national radio shows and ranting like methadone deprived smack heads.
That last area I have some experience with.
For four years I produced talk shows and screened phone calls at the ESPN Radio Network.
The worst callers, hands down, SEC football fans.
The least rational, the most hostile, the least cogent, the most easily stereotyped, the least intelligent and the most asinine were SEC football callers. Period. No second place.
When you call Colin Cowherd or Jim Rome, people from all across America are listening, and they’re judging not only you, but your university, your state and your region by your call. If you are unable to make a good impression on your behalf and the behalf of everyone you’re representing, put the phone down and go back to your message board where everyone already assumes your loco.
I can’t tell you how many SEC football fans there were who called ESPN Radio that I hung up on. Not to be mean, but because they were so embarrassing to their school, the conference and the region, I wouldn’t let them on the air. I love the SEC and the South and I didn’t want them getting on the air and making all of us look like hillbillies.
The truth is, most national talk show hosts think SEC fans are dipsticks to begin with and when you call, you’re only feeding that belief. A good talk show host will bait SEC fans into calling in and making asses out of themselves because it’s so easy and the rest of the nation gets a big laugh out of Jimbo in Enterprise "talkin’ ‘bout how the Tide’s gonna win a national championship."
Don’t embarrass yourself. Don’t embarrass your school. Don’t embarrass the SEC.
If you ever have the urge to call a talk show that is heard beyond the county line, ask yourself this, "am I a moron?"
If you’re not sure, you are. If you’re pretty sure you’re not, you are. If you’re absolutely, positively, 100% sure you’re not, you still are.
Even if you think your point is good, it’s not.
You won’t run into another call screener as protective of you as me who will hang up on you for your own good, you’ll be put to the front of the line and be made a fool of for all America.
That might not matter to you and your muddin’ buddies who meet at Sonny’s every Wednesday for a-y-c-e pork, but when it comes to the perception of the SEC outside of Dixie – something we should all care about – it does.
As a fan, you demand that your facilities be the best, your coaches be the best and your players be the best, don’t accept anything less from yourself.