Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Big XII & The SEC

It’s 1 a.m., I just got home from work, and the first thing I do is sit down to blog! Yup, it’s official…I need to re-evaluate my life. Well, there is plenty of time to worry about that tomorrow, but for now, I want to talk about two of my favorite things in life: Big 12 and SEC football. Listen, I spent the past two days essentially telling you that I have no interest in the Big 10, Pac 10, or Big East. So, at this point, you might be asking yourself, how does a guy that hates watching three of the six major conferences call himself a huge college football fan? Well, the answer is easy. I love the Big 12, SEC, and ACC. I think it’s probably easy for you to figure out why I love the ACC. I mean, a lifetime of memories and passion tends to build some allegiance. But, you may be wondering why I feel so passionately about the other two. It’s a fair question. So, instead of spending hours putting together a “preview” of these two great conferences, I figured I would give you all the reasons I love the Big 12 and SEC. If you want facts, figures, and predictions for these two, well, you can check out Stewie Mandel’s or Ivan Maisel’s blogs, but if you want an inside look into the passion of the Big 12 and SEC, just read below:

Why I love the Big 12:

- Bob Stoops is everything you could ever want in a football coach.

- The 12th Man in College Station

- The Black Shirts

- The Eyes of Texas are upon you. (Goose bumps from the second the band hits the first chord)

- The Boomer Schooner.

- Hook ‘em Horns

- Mike Leach’s offense.

- The fact that Mike Leach had the balls to quit being a lawyer and become a college football coach.

- The fact that Mack Brown silenced all the critics (If you win 11 games at UNC, you are a great coach….period!)

- The fact that Oklahoma State’s stadium faces East-West and if it’s the 4th quarter and the sun is setting, one team is totally screwed.

- The resurgence of K. State under Bill Snyder

- Folsom Stadium at night with the Boulder mountains in the background and the lights beaming off the gold helmets. Just a great scene.
- The fact that the old Southwest Conference still lives on.

- The Red River Shootout. (The old Cotton Bowl split down the middle – only one other scene in college football rivals it, but we’ll get to that in a minute).

Why I Love the SEC:

- Time stands still throughout the South on Saturdays because of SEC football. You just can’t describe how much SEC football means in this part of the country. If you are a sports fan, you have to love that.

- Border wars…every weekend.

- Spurrier. (He’s the greatest college football coach of our lifetimes. No doubt about it. Not to mention, he launched the career of Bob Stoops.)

- War Eagle.

- The Iron Bowl.

- The Cocktail Party (remember when I said only one event rivals the Red River Shootout? Well, this is it.)

- Neyland Stadium filled to capacity. (When you are sitting in the upper deck, you are actually fearful that the whole damn stadium might collapse because it won’t stop swaying. Simply breathtaking. )

- Dreamland BBQ.

- The Egg Bowl.

- The Grove (Why I didn’t go to Ole Miss, I’ll never know.)

- Death Valley at night. (Is there a greater home field advantage in all of sports than 90,000 drunk Cajuns going nuts on every play?)

- The Golden Band from Tiger Land.

- UGA vs. Auburn (one of my favorite games of the year – always a classic)

- The Swamp.

- The fact that Phil Fulmer needs a police escort every time he steps foot in the state of Alabama.

- The fact that Tommy Tubberville has outlasted the President and AD that tried to fire him.

- The twins that always wear those Bear Bryant hats at Alabama home games. What’s not to love here?

These are just the things that come to my mind without even really thinking about it. Truth is, I could probably come up with dozens more for each league. But, at the end of the day, I think it should be obvious that ultimately, the reason why I have such a passion for the Big 12 and SEC is that these are the two leagues where all the things that make college football so special all come together on every campus every Saturday: passion, tradition, and pride. In short, this is where the game is bigger than life. It’s not just a game, it’s an experience, and it’s not just about winning and losing. It’s about bragging rights and even social status among neighbors. In the Big 12 and SEC, if your team doesn’t win on Saturday, it’s not like you wake up on Sunday and everything is okay. No, if you lose on Saturday, you have a sick feeling in your gut until the next Saturday. As a sports fan, how do you not love that?