With the best talent, coaching, fans, and facilities in the country SEC football has never been in a more enviable position. It’s minted the ultimate blueprint for success for college football, but for a variety of childish reasons fans of rival programs (I’m mostly pointing at you Alabama and Auburn fans) have inadvertently teamed up with “information sharers” to send up an incredibly toxic cloud of volatility into our southern skies the past 18 months. As the cloud grows in size after each information sharer chokes every SEC college football website with yet another “I got you story!” it’s only a matter of time until the NCAA starts dumping on everyone.
You see, it’s no longer good enough for a program to win a national title. Famous trees must be murdered. Undefeated teams must be torpedoed before they can even reach a title game. Well-dressed witches hunt players who may have received discounted clothes. Can we still find more pictures of Bruce Pearl with girls in bathing suits? Is there some old Lane Kiffin stuff we can still burn UT with? What about Mississippi State fans selling cassette tapes, crippling Auburn, to the highest bidder? Who’s got that damn mug shot of Garcia? What, we don’t have anything punishable by death going on at LSU? Find it, now. There’s got to be a way we can retroactively spank Arkansas because I saw those pictures of Darren McFadden’s 70’’ rims! If we all do some digging I’m sure we can find something (anything!) to set a program in their prime back a few years, so let’s do it! (Of course the only unwritten rule that’s actually ever followed in the SEC is everyone must leave Vanderbilt out of this.)
Hold on a second… This is what the result of five consecutive BCS titles looks like? This is how fans act when the resume of their favorite or rival program has been updated and polished? We should all be ashamed. Jealousy has decapitated jubilation in the SEC, and the direct result is a dedicated army of tweeters, bloggers and websites giddily embellish every last rumor to feed the starving minds of millions of SEC fans.
TMZ became a huge success because it did things like publish photos of an overweight Kristie Allie wearing ill-fitting clothes and showed it to the world. (I don’ think TMZ was trying to destroy her career?) I thought it was mildly amusing the first time around but stopped paying attention long ago. Not surprisingly, and following that successful style of award-winning journalism, we’ve now got TMZ in the SEC. When photos of Julio Jones wearing ill-fitting clothes were published it immediately turned rival fans into a lynch mob ready to burn Bama to the ground. Like the Kristie Allie photos, I have better things to do besides care about the wardrobe habits of Julio Jones so I choose to ignore it. And when the 19th time the “imminent release” of the ‘Cam Newton Diaries Caught On Cassette Tape’ is upon us I will ignore this, too. In fact, any earth shattering story that carries a headline of “Insert your rumor here is going to sink your program in minutes!” I will ignore this, too.
But at the end of the day fans need to look in the mirror and shoulder a large amount of the blame for this. “Fans” hand over ammunition – not caring whether it works or not – to people whose sole purpose is to destroy. These people are neither advocates nor fans of the SEC, simply modern-day sports mercenaries only in it for page hits, ad revenue and to light the fuse on the most exposed SEC program. They’re hunters looking for the next whale to kill. Some are very talented and creative writers, and I’m sure it didn’t start out this way, but they’re out for blood.
And as long as fans continue to ignore their mission we’re allowing the underbelly of the SEC to be the face when the conference has never been more successful. Infighting and hating thy SEC neighbor is a time-honored tradition, but 2011 breeds a different animal and it’s beginning to crack the Empire. Is that what anyone wants?
I believe SEC fans are too good to let this happen for much longer; however, I fully understand the modern media barn door is open for good. I’m not pleading for every fan to simultaneously bury his or her head in the sand pretending all is squeaky clean when it comes to SEC football. It never will be and we all know this. Rules will be broken. Scholarships will be lost. Probation will be handed out. Coaches will be fired. This, for the most part, is the vicious cycle of life in the SEC. But with many teams playing some of their best football in school history, why are so many enthusiastically running around with a needle doing everything in their power to give the SEC cycle of life a lethal shot of steroids?
I’d never thought I’d say this, EVER, but for once let’s allow the NCAA to come and pick up the SEC’s dirty laundry on their own. I no longer see the logic in grabbing a pile and throwing it at them. Always seen as an enemy to the SEC, in 2011 we should see the NCAA as an ally. They don’t make decisions overnight, and for the most part get cases right because their rulings are based on fact and not fiction.
In closing, this year let’s leave the crazy fans – and the jock-sniffing TMZ crew that follows them – on the sideline and enjoy it because a handful of SEC teams have a chance to capture a sixth consecutive BCS title. And if this does happen, which I expect it will, let this be the year we all tip our hat to the title team instead of tossing a grenade at them.