Shane: Does the SEC really care?

By Shane from Centerpoint

What do college basketball, pro golf, and NASCAR racing have in common? All three couldn’t pay the bills if they depended on SEC fans for income. In spite of media-generated perceptions designed to convince us otherwise, I believe these and many other sports mean very little to SEC football fans.

I have no doubt that one of the main reasons for the high level of dedication by SEC fans probably lies in the fact that the Southeastern Conference is regarded as the premier league in all of college football.

With four straight BCS national championships (Alabama, Florida, LSU, and Florida again) and two of the last three Heisman Trophy winners (Ingram and Tebow) it’s easy to understand why football dominates the landscape in the South.

Do you really think that Crimson Tide fans are overly concerned that new head coach Anthony Grant didn’t get his basketball team to the “big dance”? Or, are Tide fans already deep into the “process” with Nick Saban and the football team, focusing on spring training and the next championship run? If you ask me I’d bet the house on the latter.

Should Tennessee supporters be enjoying the ride with Coach Bruce Pearl and his basketball squad as they roll through the NCAA basketball tournament? Sure. However, that’s awfully hard to do when the main thing occupying their daily thoughts centers on whether new football coach Derek Dooley can get the program back to respectability.

Is the Auburn fan base hyped and excited about the possibilities associated with having a brand new basketball coach and arena to match? When they finish celebrating their top-five football recruiting class we can ask them. That party began on signing day when Gene Chizik and his staff signed a top-five recruiting class for the first time in years? In fact I don’t even think they know Jeff Lebo’s been fired.

Am I making sense yet? Of course I know that sports enthusiasts are supposed to be well rounded and strive to appreciate the value of every sport but, apparently, somebody forgot to emphasize that point when they issued the handbooks — especially around the SEC.

Has anybody noticed that Tiger Woods has gotten more publicity out of his marriage scandal than he ever did by being the best golfer in the world? Also, in my opinion the golf world is selling-out its moral and ethical clout for Woods because it can’t draw fans without him.

Nevertheless, I feel safe in saying that this spring – with football practice on the agenda – most SEC football fans won’t pay very much attention to Tiger’s trials and tribulations. Yet, they will be very concerned with the results of the battles for the starting quarterback position in their team’s intra-squad games. Avid fans will spend months breaking down what they’ve seen on the field.

As far as NASCAR goes, in the old days some SEC gridiron junkies would use this form of auto racing as a bridge to occupy a few hours on weekends during the off-season. However, that changed when college football became a year–round event.

Between the regular season, recruiting, spring training, and summer camp college football interest is in maximum overdrive 24/7 – 365!

Inevitably, some will claim that this article is loaded with bias, but I’m of the opinion that most southerners would say I hit the nail on the head. Actually, I really think the SEC’s passion for football can only be truly understood if you live it. Television just doesn’t do it justice.

If you ever get the opportunity to spend a Saturday night in Bryant-Denny or Jordan-Hare stadium watching Alabama’s finest play a top-tier SEC opponent, you’ll become addicted to the intoxicating current that surrounds the event. By the way, that same electricity is also responsible for transforming us from normal sports fans into SEC football fanatics.

—Shane writes a weekly column for the Call News and the Capstone Report.