I like Herbstreit, but he had no business making this comment and it showed his internal bias. Unfortunately as a sports announcer you don't have complete freedom to say whatever you want...you can do it, but you will pay for it.
On the long list of things that sports fans get angry about these days — and it’s a long damn list — those of us here at MrSEC.com find one item hard to grasp. Southeastern Conference fans take pride in the fact their league has won title after title after title in college football. Seven in a row at this point. And next Spring, SEC squads will once again send more prospects into the pro ranks than any other league. Again, SEC fans will whoop, holler and brag.
Well, for some reason, that doesn’t sit well with people outside the South at all.
“Hey, you can’t take credit for a championship by Alabama unless your a Bama backer!”
“Georgia and South Carolina and Mississippi State and Arkansas, you didn’t win anything!”
The general gist — as far as we can guess — is that people outside of Dixie don’t want to see other people happy. Think about it. Isn’t that really what they’re saying. “We don’t want you to have any more fun than us!”
To hell with that. Life’s short. Much of it is miserable. What’s wrong with taking a little pleasure in knowing that your conference is the toughest in the land?
No one likes bandwagon fans when their team wins a title, especially if they have suffered through lean years with said team. People feel they’ve earned the right to enjoy big wins a bit more than the Johnny-come-latelys.
But what does it really hurt? So more people are happy? And that’s a bad thing?
Apparently ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit thinks so. The ex-Big Ten quarterback had this to say yesterday on the network’s “College Football LIVE” program:
“The SEC, it’s unique about their fanbase. There are 14 schools. When one of them wins a national championship, all 14 carry the flag for the national championship. They all claim it. They all claim the national championship like they won it together. So when Tennessee gets ambushed by Oregon, they need to all get their flag out together and accept that loss to Oregon.”
The SEC lost a game badly to Oregon. The SEC has also lost at Clemson, at Miami (FL), and to Oklahoma State this year.
And come January, it’s likely that the SEC will play for another BCS title anyway. If the league’s representative wins, Herbstreit — who I had the pleasure of working with at WBNS-TV in Columbus, Ohio… good guy — and others will probably hear that now famous “S-E-C, S-E-C” chant echoing across the Rose Bowl. And that will hurt who exactly? That’s bad why? Because we’d prefer more people to be sad or miserable?
Hey, if an SEC team plays and loses in the BCS Championship Game, you can bet the victor’s fans in Pasadena will taunt their rivals with that very same chant. And at that point, SEC fans will have to take down their flag — as Herbstreit puts it — and go home. So be it.
What folks across the country don’t realize is that until the 1960s, there were no professional teams in the Deep South. There were only college football and basketball teams to fall in love with and to worship. Someone from Columbus or New York or Chicago might grow up equally loving their college team, their pro football team, their pro hoops team, their pro baseball team and their pro hockey team. Down South, folks had their college team. End of story. No other love came close. For that reason, Southerners are still more invested in the successes and failures of their favorite school and their favorite conference.
The South is the only region of the country that lost a war. It’s a region that had a much harder time than most when it came to civil rights. The South’s economy lagged behind other regions for decades after the Civil War. To put it simply, the South has known a lot of woes (though many were admittedly self-inflicted). So if the people of the South want to rally around their beloved football conference and enjoy claiming crown after crown, so what? Does someone else’s joy somehow take pleasure away from people like Herbstreit?
SEC fans are proud of their league. Big deal.
Anyone ever think that some Southerners might just be wondering why the devil fans in other areas don’t take as much pride in their conferences?