Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tonight is for all the SEC

The first Alabama game I remember was the '65 Orange Bowl. Texas was the opponent. The coaches, I learned from my father, were named Darrell and Bear. Bear? It was a night game, college football's first prime-time foray. My family gathered in suburban St. Louis around our black-and-white, which was still TV enough to show that Joe Namath really did wear white shoes. That night, whether he got over the goal line or not, Namath won me over, and I pulled hard for Alabama for the first time.

To root for a college team is to be part of one of life's perfect unions, a relationship that deepens with time, like all the good ones do. In my house, Saturdays in the fall have become like one of those reserved sections at the front of a church wedding. My best friends, partisans of Georgia, LSU, Clemson, Auburn and even Ohio State, are allowed under the ropes. Pretend fans are politely turned away.

Two years ago, the slave trader who is my loving bride sold me into a restaurant dinner party that coincided with the kickoff of the Georgia-Alabama game. There, while scanning the menu, I contemplated green hedges and a black-faced Sanford Stadium, mulling how to salvage some part of my marriage and still get to a TV for the second half.

Just then, my cellphone went postal. The text messages and phone calls whistled in from all over the country. By the time Alabama scored to make it 31-0, in the first half, at Athens, the electronic updates were cutting through the dinner conversation like shrapnel. My friends had found me. The other husband at the table, a Gamecock guy, was laughing out loud. Even Jennifer had to smile.

Thursday we come full circle: Alabama and Texas once again, this time in a winner-takes-all showdown that turns a college football game into a prime time mutant. The Tide is the favorite, but so was Namath's team. And with so much riding on the outcome, who knows how either set of kids will play.

For that matter, who knows how adults will react? That's why I've invited Tommy Tomlinson over to see how it all unfolds. He's a Georgia guy, sure. But he's been to the big game before, and he knows how to behave no matter how the scoreboard turns out. He also brings his own bourbon.

He and Trent Roberts and Peter St. Onge, Steve Harrison, Cliff Mehrtens and I started the SEC Expats because we wanted an outlet at work to discuss our schools and our favorite sport. We've had fun, learned some things, and we appreciate those of you who've climbed aboard with your jabs and insights. My personal favorite came down the chimney on Christmas morning: This blog blows, it said.

We're down to one game. The SEC is again reaching for the crystal. This is the one day when we're supposed to close ranks, to reach for the Dramamine, swallow hard, and get behind the last team standing from the greatest conference on earth. I'll happily accept the Karmic blessings from any one-game alliances. And in Texas, which features a fan base as obnoxious as any in the SEC and a $5 million coach flashing an Alfred E. Newman grin, we have an inviting rallying point.

But relationships like ours are complicated, and let's be blunt: Many of you don't like my team, and I don't like most of yours. If you can't manage to root for Alabama, so be it. Mutual contempt, after all, is our esprit de corps, and it's those kind of feelings that remind us we're part of something bigger and more enduring than the outcome of a single game.

It's called the SEC.

RDT

-- Michael Gordon


16 comments:

Anonymous said...

From a Gator fan:

Roll Tide.

Anonymous said...

As a Gator I have to say "Roll Tide" tonight...

Peter from Georgia said...

That'll do, bammer, that'll do. . . Roll Tide Roll

Michael said...

Thanks, Gators. Alabama pulled for y'all last year. I expected nothing less this year. Let's do it.

B.Lane said...

Gamecock sez: Rolllll Tiiiiide

Bryan from Minnesota said...

For tonight I will put my black and red on the shelf and don a crimson with a white A. Roll on Crimson Tide Roll on.

SECfan said...

Will be pulling for Bama

Tennessee fan

bama brother said...

Is it kickoff time, yet? I'm too old to be worked up like this? Wonder who the real Elvis is pulling for..Oops, dumb question. I'll bet he and Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys are on the opposite sides of heaven tonite.

Lucas said...

RTR!

bama brother said...

Just to lighten things up, any St. Louis Cardinal fans out there who wanna talk about the Matt Holliday deal?
...
....
.....

Well, doesn't hurt to try.

Anonymous said...

This HOGS fan says Roll Tide!

bama brother said...

Well, Alabama won but ... there will be plenty of folks who say, Yeah, you win against a team that nearly had you by the throat despite losing its star QB and has to rely on a kid OB. Yeah, that sack was big to seal the deal, but amidst all the celebrating, plenty of folks are going to be saying, Would be a lot more satisfying if we had beaten a healthy Colt, and not a wounded Longhorn.

Go Vols said...

Excellent post- and true to the meaning of what I thought this blog was about from the beginning. As hard as it was I pulled for the tide last night. No matter who you don't like you don't pull against the SEC in the national championship!

J said...

Well, I had made my feelings known earlier this week. Wanted to pledge SEC allegience, but pull for 'Bama? I just couldn't do it. The 'Bama-Auburn rivalry is just too personal.

However, congratulations to the Tide are in order.

The countdown to November 26 begins in earnest.

Anonymous said...

i hate the SEC, your "Expats" blog and all of your schools. Best teams $$$ can buy. $EC is the slimiest conference in America.

my gosh, this is a nc-based website. take your sec slobber to the atl.

Michael said...

Anon: We believe in truth in advertising. It's says SEC in the title.

Thanks for dropping by. When the ACC figures out how to play the sport, come on back.

For the time being, I'd be worry that the ACC looks to be the third or fourth best BASKETBALL conference in the country. We'd be happy to discuss that if you like.