My National Championship Dilemma: Touchdown Jesus vs Stonewall Saban

Published on: January 02, 2013 | Written by: napritch

By Nick Pritchard

There really shouldn’t be a dilemma.

The decision should be easy. 

As an Ole Miss fan I should have no problem supporting Notre Dame, my girlfriend’s favorite team, against Alabama. Why?

Because, I hate Alabama, that’s why.

I hate the fans (yes, all of them), most of Tuscaloosa, and all of their national championships. They are Derek from Step Brothers: the successful, cocky brother who scoffs at you for asking about the bonito fish (or in the case of Alabama, scoffing at you for questioning the validity of their 500 national championships). 

Then there is the whole thing of my girlfriend being a Notre Dame fan. In a completely neutral situation it would always behoove me to side with her when it came to opponents of Notre Dame. In this instance, I am hardly neutral. Why?

Because, I hate Alabama, that’s why.

If the above is true (it is), then why is it that I can’t completely pull the trigger and join my girlfriend on the Notre Dame bandwagon? I have thought about this for some time and the only conclusion I can reach is that I am part of the New Confederacy.

I’m not sure when it all started, but the ‘SEC’ chant became our battle cry and Mike Slive our Jefferson Davis. The differences between the teams in the SEC are legion but when faced with contempt from the rest of the nation (B1G, Big East, Pac 12, Big 12, etc) we rally together due to some bizarre national (SEC) pride. Instead of marching to Washington, we troll internet sites and radio stations to ensure the great name of the SEC is respected and revered. Instead of recalling great victories at places like Bull Run, we wax eloquent about the time that Saban made Michigan look like an intramural squad. 

I’ll admit it; I hate the thought of the SEC logo being tarnished by lesser foes. Better stated, foes not in the SEC. My distaste of Mississippi State won’t stop me from hoping that they demolish Northwestern[1]. After all, a tarnished SEC logo makes us all weaker. And if Mississippi State does lose we will rewrite history. We will claim injuries, coaching changes, and Mullen’s hunchback as reasons outside of our control.

I have no idea when I officially adopted SEC Exceptionalism as one of my ethos. It didn’t used to be like that. I loved my team and hated and cheered against teams that they played. Part of the blame goes to geography. I moved from Chicago to Birmingham in 2003 for school. I was there for 8 years before moving back to Chicago. During those 8 years, I learned to love Paul Finebaum and Southern football. During those 8 years, I also grew a healthy hatred for northern accents, Yankees, and aggressive driving. I saw, in a new light, the contrast between how the South was viewed by the rest of the country and what the South was actually like.

Andy Doyle, a professor at Winthrop University, had this to say about football in the South,

“Southern football has always had a duality. Part of it has been about competition, of wanting to prove we are as good or better than you are, but it was also about white Southerners wanting to be included in this very popular national game – to be recognized as good Americans.”[2]

It is tough to fully relate because I am hardly a southerner. A carpetbagger? Probably. Regardless of my official standing in Alabama, there is a pride associated with being a fan of an SEC team while living in the southeast that cannot be matched or reproduced anywhere else in the country.[3]

I would be remiss if I didn’t also make the case for why siding with my girlfriend and her family makes the most sense. It just does. The following quote pretty much sums up my feelings on the matter, 

“The greatest thing a man can do in his life is to be completely and utterly faithful to the ones he holds most dear.”

-Benedict Arnold (circa 1779)[4] 

This brings me back to my dilemma. This should be easier for me now that I am out of the South. Who will know that I crossed lines and started cheering in the other direction? Will I love college football less if I cheer against the SEC? (honestly, I think so).

Will there be long term problems in my relationship if I cheer for Alabama? (this probably depends on how Harvey Updyke-ish I get).

The New Confederacy is one thing but picking an unnecessary battle with my girlfriend is something entirely different.  Ultimately, it won’t matter which team I choose. That S-E-C chant seems all but inevitable. RTR[5]


[1] Actually pretty happy about this outcome.

[2] Grabbed from David Barron’s article “SEC Maintains Unique Hold on Fans” on 08/26/2012. http://www.chron.com/sports/college-football/article/SEC-maintains-unique-hold-on-fans-3815687.php

[3] Nothing to cite here. I made this up. 

[4] Not really

[5] This is not an endorsement. Just a sad reality.