College football in the South: how do I love thee?

I’m sitting here on my couch, under my favorite comforter, pup next to me, haven’t gotten dressed yet today, and didn’t sleep much last night, yet all is right with the world. I’m watching two teams play, Auburn and Mississippi State, neither of whom I particularly care about, and I’m thoroughly enjoying myself.

In honor of this, I wanted to list just a few of the things that I love about college football down here in the south. Some of these things might also apply to football in the Midwest, but I think the South is unique in many ways, and I’m a southern boy so that’s what my list will focus on.

When I talk about southern football I’m mostly thinking of teams in the SEC, but there’s a few teams in the ACC that can also be included, most notably Clemson and Florida State.

Off the top of my head, I can think of 7 college stadiums in the south that seat more than 80,000 people, several over 90,000, and one that has over 100,000 seats. These are bigger than any pro stadiums in the country, including NFL ones, often by a good amount. And yet for a conference game, there are people that can’t even get in. Just think about that: 80-100,000 is the population of a large town or small city, and every Saturday that many people cram into large bowls in towns and cities all over the south. The noise, the mass of humanity, the comradery if you’re part of the home crowd, the way some stadiums shake…you have to experience it to really understand.

At a game, you’ll see rednecks, good ol boys, genteel ladies, men in shirt and tie and others in cutofffs. You’ll see pretty and rich college girls and ladies wearing shades of orange that a hunter would be embarrassed to wear. Kids and adults with faces painted. And yes, while it often seems to be an overly white crowd, it’s not completely so. As long as you pull for the same team whether you’re white or black, redneck or rich lawyer, society girl or waitress, you’re part of the same family on Saturday.

And while you’ll hear stories about a few over served “fans” acting like asses, you will generally meet some nice people and have a good time even at an away game…despite the long standing grudges and grievances between many teams and their fans.

Every team has their own cheers, songs, and traditions. Grown men and women barking like dogs(dawgs) at Georgia, arms extended clapping their hands together vertically at Florida in the “Gator Chomp”, the entire stadium singing “Rocky Top” approximately 50 times per game at Tennessee. Fans at Mississippi State seemingly embracing their roots as an agricultural college by bringing in actual cowbells and ringing them in unison to distract the opponent on offense. A sea of bright orange and the “Tiger Rag” at Clemson, women AND men yelling Go Cocks and a piped in rooster sound played over and over at South Carolina, the Tomahawk Chop and Chant at Florida State, Roll Tide and houndstooth hats at Alabama. And these aren’t even half of them. I’m not even sure what the crazy cajuns at LSU do other than get drunk and rowdy…somehow they always have night games and party all day beforehand.

We take this stuff so seriously that’s there’s always feuds and conspiracies, hatched on message boards with thousands of members. Such and such school must be handing Cadillacs out to recruits again, such and such coach is an asshole, that ref had it in for us, and stuff far more crazy. As a Georgia fan, I’m 75% sure that a longtime SEC ref by the name of Penn Wagers has it in for us. I hate seeing him work a UGA game. What a douchebag name and he looks like a smug banker that wears a bowtie during the week…because these refs actually DO have real jobs during the week.

Anyway, these are just a few of the things I love about college football in the south, I’ll maybe add more later but there’s another game on and I want to see the stinking Gators lose 😛

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