Photo via USA Today
The Florida State Seminoles won the final BCS National Championship Game last night. The Auburn Tigers lost. The SEC championship streak ended at seven, and the nation outside of the Southeastern Conference let out a long overdue sigh of relief. “Thank God!” exclaimed college football fans not affiliated with the sport’s most dominant conference and tired of its nearly decade long gloating, as they smiled upon Tallahassee and looked the other way while the city devolved into a drunken, sexually depraved version of The Purge.*
If Auburn had won, it’s likely those same fans would have screamed, “NOOOOOOOO!” as they ran in horror from the SEC faithful crawling out of their trailers to treat every sports loving ear in the nation like it was a Paul Finebaum phone line. Somewhere over the last few years, I half suspect, a Big Ten fan was searching haunted caves throughout the South, trying to find the ghosts of General Sherman and his army, so he could beg the general to lead his spectral force in a re-burning of the South, pretty much exactly like in The Lord of The Rings, except against a greater evil — SEC fans.
But Florida State won, and no one was forced to listen to the smug, twanged boasts of southern football fans, except, no wait, we were still subjected to exactly that. Now, however, it came from a voice that had lain dormant for some years (except at the beginning of every year when one certain school loudly announces its wildly unrealistic expectations): southern ACC fans.
To them, this wasn’t simply the end of a streak; it was the collapse of an empire. Of course SEC fans shouted right back, with all the sophistication you would expect. “Nuh uh, shut up, fuck you. Pussies.” Neither side really had a point, but neither side was really wrong, either. The loss was symbolic. A team had caught up. Others, likely, are soon to catch up, as well. A full game of Colt McCoy might have ended this streak years ago. Empires don’t fall in a day, though. Rome lived on after a foreign force sacked its capital for the first time in a millennium. Plus the SEC’s leaders are smart men and will give way to capable heirs. It’s only the bottom rungs of SEC society who impregnate their sisters, not the heads of state.
Obviously, outside of all of this, Florida State fans can say whatever they damn well please. They’re the champs. No one in the country is better than Florida State, and if I were in their shoes I would be saying and doing whatever the hell they’re doing right now. I don’t know. I think Tallahassee has gone dark. The Florida National Guard is going to have to roll in there with Emergen-C and pregnancy tests. Still steamed I couldn’t convince the TFM staff to fund a fully-catered, open bar watch party for the Florida State Delta Gammas. I was thinking maybe at a pool with a swim up bar. Something classy.
The aftermath of the championship had me wondering which was worse, the aggressively defensive SEC fans or the unrightfully smug, non-FSU, ACC fans? Is ‘both’ an acceptable answer?
The SEC fans have been on edge, armed and waiting with a pre-emptive, “We’re still the best,” strike for a couple years, and it’s stupid. It’s stupid because it sounds insecure, and a lot of times, this coming from someone who has been on both sides of the SEC fence, SEC fans come off as insecure. When people make jokes that SEC fans treasure and obsess over college football so much because that’s literally all they have in places like Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, and the backwoods towns of every other state in the conference, it’s because it legitimately seems that way. The bad (see also: most visible) SEC fans are a disturbing combination of sad and crazy. It’s not a good sign when you could legitimately play a game called “SEC Fan or Third World Soccer Fan” and then read off a heinous crime and have to guess who did it. On a side note, I’m going to copyright that real quickly. Last night’s postgame reaction seemed like a culmination of that insecurity, of that defensiveness — a fanbase’s protection of its lone treasure, whether or not it actually is. All SEC fans were, to some extent, guilty. Myself included.
The defensiveness, it turns out, was not unwarranted, though. ACC fans were taking their 2-0 BCS record, comparing it to the SEC’s 0-2 record, and waving it as proof that the ACC was superior. Yes, most of the loudly defensive SEC fans still proclaiming their conference the best were probably making horrible, illogical, subjective, or unsubstantiated points to state their case, but they weren’t wrong. The SEC still is the best conference by almost every measurable standard. This is something that would never be argued about in college basketball. Louisville won the championship last year, and Kentucky the year before, but there was no question that the Big Ten had been the class of the sport both years, in terms of overall quality. Then again, the college basketball regular season does a much better job of settling questions than the college football season does.
The problem is that nobody wants to accept a truth such as “The SEC is the best conference,” when it’s coming from people like the legion SEC fans who won’t shut up about it, and whose arguments are so terrible that they’re actually counterproductive. You wouldn’t want to believe the sky is blue if a crazy person came up to you belligerently insisting that it’s because we all live inside of an ice dragon’s eyeball. You would want to disagree just because that guy was such a crazy asshole. Is it really so different with the SEC?
If anyone has the right to jump at the first chance to rub something in the face of the SEC, warranted or not, it’s the ACC. Sure, the Big 12 has animosity for the SEC, and the Big Ten does too, but ACC fans, especially southern ACC fans, have to suffer a fate much worse than constant ESPN stories about Tebow and Alabama, or a united front of obnoxious tweeters and commenters. They must live among the very people who torment them and whom they revile. Clemson and South Carolina, Florida State/Miami and Florida, Georgia and Georgia Tech, they all exist in the same space. It must have been pretty sweet for many an ACC fan to walk into their office today and not have to listen to some UGA alum puff out his chest about a game he technically had no stake in.
“Not today, Gary! Not this year! You shut the fuck up! This is MY TIME NOW!”
The whole back and forth was obnoxious, but hey, this is sports. What back and forth isn’t obnoxious? The best team of 2013 resided in the ACC. No SEC team was singularly better than Florida State. No team in the country was. The best conference was the SEC. No other conference had its depth of talent (the Pac 12 was close, though). It’s really that simple.