It Just Means More
By: Steve Norris
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
If there’s one thing that truly confuses fans of college football teams from other conferences, it’s why many fans of SEC teams pull for other SEC teams against non-conference rivals.
The chant of “SEC!! SEC!!” can be heard in stadiums all over the country almost every week and especially during the bowl weeks.
In fact, the SEC Network uses that chant to promote itself pretty regularly. But why? Why do fans of other conferences not feel that way about their conference members?
For me, when I’m watching another SEC team play a team outside the conference, it comes down to this…when in doubt, pull for the SEC neighborhood, and it started when I was little.
I grew up in a Georgia household. Both of my parents graduated from the University of Georgia in 1969 and married right after graduation. I came along about a year later.
My mother is definitely a Bulldog fan but it was my dad who truly burned red and black in my formative years.
My dad hated Florida, Tennessee, and Auburn as much as anybody. But one thing he truly hated more was what he referred to as “The Midwest media bias against the SEC.”
In the 60’s and 70’s, sports journalism was dominated by the writers from the Midwest. When it came to the polls, the Heisman, and naming the national champion, teams like Notre Dame, Penn State, Ohio State, and the Big Ten, in general, always seemed to receive the benefit of the doubt.
It all began to change in 1984, when the University of Georgia, along with the University of Oklahoma, sued the NCAA in the Supreme Court over TV rights and won.
The victory meant that conferences and schools could immediately begin negotiating their own television deals.
Once the SEC was able to get their product in front of many millions of more viewers every year, the building of the SEC dynasty began.
Fast forward to present day. In the last fifteen years, the SEC has had a team in the national championship game every year but one. Five different SEC teams have won the national championship game.
The SEC arguably has the best teams, the best coaches, the best recruiting, the best stadiums, the best tailgating, and most of all, the best and most rabid fans, which is why ESPN begged the SEC to take their money.
All of this adds up to bring me to my point: The SEC is a pretty nice neighborhood to live in. It’s so nice that blue blood programs Oklahoma and Texas told the Big 12 to pound sand last year and abruptly announced that they were leaving as soon as possible.
The reason, of course, is money (it usually is). The SEC TV rights net each school some serious bank every year and it continues to go up.
In 2021, each SEC school got approximately a $55 million payout. In 2024, it’s expected to be around $70 million.
Currently, the Big 12 is expected to pay out around $28 million per school. And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is why Oklahoma and Texas can’t wait to be a part of the neighborhood.
Now, just because you live in a nice neighborhood, it doesn’t mean you have to like all of your neighbors. But it’s still important for your neighbors to keep their part of the neighborhood looking good.
It’s important to pull for that. This is why I always say, “When in doubt, pull for the SEC.” For some of you SEC fans, there is never any doubt. You pull for your team and everybody else can burn.
I have a Georgia buddy that always says, “I wouldn’t pull for Florida if I was on the team plane and both engines went out.” I certainly understand that and as a Georgia fan I could never pull for Florida, either.
However, I always want the neighborhood to look good and the best way to do that is with money. You only get a lot of money from the likes of ESPN if the product is really good from top to bottom. So, when in doubt, pull for your neighbor. All the other neighborhoods can burn.