What a tough summer, huh? 100 degrees for weeks at a time and nothing but the WNBA on TV. These last few months were as brutal as the time my Uncle Soup got arrested for lighting M-80’s at a Jethro Tull concert, but that’s another story.

As bad as this summer has been, there is light at the end of the tunnel. SEC football is right around the corner. In celebration of the 80th season of SEC Football, Coach Scooter opens his playbook so we can discuss the 101 reasons why the SEC is the best conference in the country, and what is in store for 2012.

1. The Grove. Might as well lead with the best you got, right?

2. LSU will win the SEC West. And if Tyrann Mathieu stops auditioning for clown school, and starts concentrating on football, they will win the National Championship.

3. CBS’ College Football Intro music. This one gives me chill bumps every time I hear it.

4. Bear Bryant, Vince Dooley, Shug Jordan, Johnny Vaught and Paul Dietzel are the General’s of the SEC’s glorious past. Oh, and don’t forget another General named Neyland.

5. Auburn will win the SEC West…next year.

6. 6 Consecutive BCS National Championships for the SEC. Will it be 7?

7. Danny Wuerffel, Bert Jones, Pat Sullivan, and Condredge Holloway.

8. John Ward (Tennessee), Larry Munson (Vanderbilt and Georgia), Jim Fyffe (Auburn), Paul Eells (Vanderbilt and Arkansas), John Forney (Alabama), Jack Cristil (Mississippi State), John Ferguson (LSU), and Cawood Ledford (Kentucky). Who are those guys? Just the greatest radio announcers the SEC has ever heard. Their passion and knowledge of the game made a lot of people turn down the TV volume and listen to their radio. Just because you are gone, gentlemen, you are not forgotten.

9. The SEC Offensive Player of the Year will be Aaron Murray. If this guy stays away from the spring break circuit, he will set records that might never be broken.

10. Playoffs in two years!

11. Steve Spurrier. And don’t forget loving that visor, either resting on his head or flying through the air, depending on who you are rooting for.

12. Joe Namath, Warren Rabb, Marcus Nash, Pat Trammel, Derrick Ramsey, Ken Stabler, Jimmy Sidle, A&M’s 12th Man, and believe it or not, Bear Bryant.

13. Walking the train tracks to Sanford Stadium.

14. Missouri leads the nation in most OT games played with 14.

15. BREAKING NEWS!!!!! Vanderbilt has new helmets and uniforms this year! Oh wait, haven’t I written that somewhere before? At least they are better than what UGA wore last year.

16. Peyton Manning.

17. Titanic SEC Matchup of the year comes on November 3rd as Alabama visits LSU. Both teams were deserving of the national championship last year, and this year, the two heavyweights will slug it out in a game that will decide the SEC West, and a shot at the conference and national championship. As our good friend Judge Smails once said, “Oh Billy, Billy, Billy…this is a biggie…”

18. The actual speed limit on the Ole Miss campus is 18 m.p.h. I think Archie Manning had something to do with that…

19. Smokey, UGA, Reveille, and Bully. The SEC has really gone to the dogs. No wonder why everyone says this is a “ruff” conference. Sorry, bad joke…

20. Missouri’s Don Faurot is credited with inventing the split-T formation. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1961, and in 1972, the Memorial Stadium field was named Faurot Field in his honor.

21. The number of consecutive SEC losses by Ole Miss if they are winless going into their season finale with Mississippi State on November 24th.

22. The number of SEC Championships Alabama has won, which leads the conference.

23. The SEC East game of the year is Georgia at South Carolina on October 6th in Columbia. Winner gets the inside track to the division championship.

24. Gig ‘em, Aggies!

25. The SEC Defensive Player of the Year will be USC’s Jadevon Clowney. This guy was a beast in 2011 and with an extra year to get stronger and faster, they will have to keep this guy in a cage since he is a monster.

26. Kentucky finally stopped the nation’s longest losing streak to one team last year as they ended 26 years of frustration by narrowly beating Tennessee 10-7.

27. Rolling Toomer’s Corner.

28. Florida’s Mr. Two Bits and “We Are the Boys of Old Florida.”

29. Clay Travis’ Dixieland Delight book. Probably the best book ever written on the game day experience of the SEC.

30. The SEC opener for Texas A&M brings Florida to College Station. Can you say, LOUD??????

31. 1931 marked the beginning of night football at LSU. This tradition started even before the SEC became a conference.

32. Are you ready? Hell yes! Damn Right! Hotty Toddy, Gosh almighty
Who in the hell are we — Hey Flim Flam, Bim Bam Ole Miss By Damn!

33. The 80th SEC season will begin and end in the Georgia Dome. I am thinking a split in August as Tennessee goes down and Auburn picks up where they left off last year. Fast forward to December where LSU will repeat over Georgia, but find it will be a much tougher game than last year.

34. Herschel and Bo.

35. The Iron Bowl, regarded as one of the best rivalries in the nation. This year’s game will be on November 24th in Tuscaloosa.

36. With the addition of Texas A&M, that makes four teams Bear Bryant coached in the conference. (Kentucky, Texas A&M, Alabama and an assistant at Vanderbilt).

37. Calling the Hogs. Woo Pig Sooey!

38. South Carolina’s Heisman Trophy winner, George Rogers, as well as inspirational DB, Chucky Mullins of Ole Miss.

39. Mississippi State’s Cowbells.

40. Tiger, Auburn’s Mascot, swooping down on the field before kick off.

41. Vanderbilt’s fight song, Dynamite.

42. Amazing plays like this, this and this.

43. Philip Lutzenkirchen, TE from Auburn. In addition to what seems like he has played for over 10 years (He must be on the Stan White plan), he is an All-SEC performer.

44. LSU’s Golden Girls.

45. We all welcome Missouri and Texas A&M. And please don’t pay any attention to Les Miles. Somewhere in Stillwater, there is a pickup truck with a bumper sticker that has Miles’ face on it reading, “Our village is missing an idiot.”

46. South Carolina’s 2001 Space Odyssey.

47. Yell practice at Texas A&M.

48. The Vol Navy docking on the Tennessee River next to Neyland Stadium.

49. Barkevious Mingo. Along with having one of the coolest names in college football, this guy is a stud and was named pre-season All-SEC.

50. 1950 saw Kentucky’s first SEC Championship. Coach Bear Bryant and QB Babe Parilli led the ‘Cats to appearances in the 1949 Orange Bowl, and victories in the 1950 Sugar Bowl and the 1951 Cotton Bowl. A very nice three-year run, and there was not a basketball to be found anywhere.

51. Georgia will win the SEC East, barley edging out South Carolina. The ‘Cocks have the Dawgs at home, but UGA’s schedule is the determining factor in why they will be in Atlanta in December.

52. The SEC is 7-1 in BCS Championship games. The only loss? LSU, who lost to….wait for it….another SEC school! The BCS Champions from the SEC are: Tennessee (1998), LSU (2003), Florida (2006), LSU (2007), Florida (2008), Alabama (2009), Auburn (2010), and Alabama (2011).

53. So long Erin Andrews. Not that big a loss since the fetching, black-rimmed glasses wearing Wendy Nix is much hotter!

54. The number of losses for Alabama’s Nick Saban. However, he has won 146 games and three National Championships, so I think he is safe for a while in Tuscaloosa. He is the only coach to win two BCS Championships at different schools, as well as joining Bear Bryant as the only two coaches to win an SEC Championship at two different schools.

55. John L Smith & Steve Spurrier are the most entertaining coaches in America. Just listen to either of them talk. Add James Franklin & Derek Dooley to the mix and welcome to the Southeastern Conference.

56. The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Sorry president Adams, I happen to be just a little old school.

57. Texas A&M RB John David Crow became the school’s only Heisman Trophy winner in 1957.

58. LSU’s white jerseys at home, as well as the year they won the national championship (1958).

59. Tulane Stadium, home of the Sugar Bowl until 1975. Many years of SEC tradition came down when its walls were demolished.

60. SEC opener for Missouri finds SEC East favorite Georgia coming to Columbia on September 8th. With the secondary thin due to suspensions, could this be a trap game for the Dawgs?

61. Watch out for Vandy’s James Franklin. This guy has recruited well, has a chip on his shoulder, and if they can ever get past the stigma of “That’s why they are Vanderbilt” they might be scary this year.

62. Florida Heisman Trophy winning QB’s Spurrier, Wuerffel, and Tebow.

63. Alabama’s Rammer Jammer, Yellow Hammer.

64. Tennessee’s Jack “Hacksaw” Reynolds. After the #3 ranked, undefeated Vols got thrashed by Archie Manning and Ole Miss 38-0, Reynolds was so upset, he spent the night sawing through an abandoned Chevrolet Bel Air (no doubt making it a convertible). After 13 blades, and two halves of a car, the nickname stuck.

65. 1978 Orange Bowl hero, Roland Sales of Arkansas, rushed for 205 yards, which was an Orange Bowl record that stood for 20 years. His Razorbacks, an 18-point underdog to #2 Oklahoma, stunned the Sooners under the lights with a 31-6 victory.

66. 1966 was the year Alabama got screwed in the National Polls. The two time defending National Champions finished the year unbeaten, but fell to #3 behind Notre Dame (9-0-1) and Michigan State (9-0-1). How can a national champion from the previous two years in a row, and not lose a game, not be proclaimed national champs?

67. A 67-yard FG by Arkansas’ Steve Little is the longest in NCAA history. Little shares the record with Texas’ Russell Erxleben and Wichita State’s Joe Williams.

68. Best SEC movie? Although The Junction Boys was pretty good, the best is Everybody’s All-American. The final scene when you see a flashback to The Ghost and Miss Babs’ glory days at LSU was a fitting end to a great movie.

69. Welcome back Marcus Lattimore!

70. Kentucky and Tennessee will be looking for new coaches before the season ends. Hugh Freeze at Ole Miss is safe because this is his first season. However, patience is not a virtue in the SEC.

71. Mississippi State will be the best team in the SEC this year….when it comes to the player’s names. How cool are these names: Baker Swedenberg, Dillon Day, Quentin Saulsbury, Derek DePasquale, Deonte Skinner, Arceto Clark and Chad Bumphis.

72. 1972’s Punt Bama Punt. Trailing 16-3 to unbeaten and #2 ranked Alabama, the 8-1 Auburn Tigers, a 16 point underdog, looked to be in serious trouble. However, late in the fourth quarter, Bill Newton blocked two punts, and David Langer returned both for touchdowns to stun the Tide, 17-16.

73. Kentucky and Tennessee will play in the final game of the year for sixth place in the SEC East. Maybe it will be to see who will get their first SEC win…

74. With Missouri’s addition to the SEC, the conference now has three sets of Tigers roaming the sidelines.

75. OL Barrett Jones from Alabama is going to have to get a bigger trophy case. Last year’s Outland and Jacobs Blocking Trophy winner was also a unanimous All-SEC and All-American. He also won the Wuerffel Trophy (I didn’t know this guy also spent time at QB) and has been on two national championship teams. How is that for having a successful career?

76. As much as I love the CBS SEC Game of the Week, I still think Gary Danielson is a clown, and his boneheaded blather is rubbing off on Verne. Until Danielson arrived, Verne could correctly name all the players, never forgot what down it was, and in his heyday would Ric Flair chop guys like Danielson and tell him to pipe down. These days, Verne doesn’t even know what stadium he is broadcasting from…

77. One of the best signs I have ever seen during ESPN’s Gameday was, “Lou Holtz for Prethadent.” By the way, is it just me, or does the former South Carolina and Arkansas head coach look a lot like Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies? Just a thought…

78. Vanderbilt gets Tennessee in Nashville for a return matchup after last year’s OT thriller that somehow Vandy lost. (Gee, that’s never happened before). Throw in all the post game yucks afterward, and I have a feeling this one will be a blood feud that you will not want to miss.

79. 1979 was Bear Bryant’s last National Championship.

80. 1980 was Georgia’s last National Championship.

81. Kate Beckinsale in a tight, Waffle House waitress uniform. Oh sorry, I got that confused with the 101 reasons why Waffle House is so great…

82. Bring back Jill Arrington. Nothing against Tracy Wolfson, but hey, hot is hot, and Jill Arrington is very hot.

83. Hey Tyler Bray, you missed the Ford Focus parked over by the mailboxes. Put a little more air underneath the throw from your balcony next time…

84. Separated at birth: Gene Chizik and Tom Glavine.

85. If I were Mike Slive, I would get the NCAA to let the teams can wear any jersey they want, home or away. I loved seeing the pictures from the 60’s when Tennessee would play Alabama and both teams wore the dark jerseys. L.S.U. gets to wear white for every game.

86. Can you name the former SEC members no longer with the best conference in America? That would be Sewanee (1940), Georgia Tech (1964), and Tulane (1966). You think they are kicking themselves for bailing?

87. Bonus points if you can name the rivalry that the James E. Foy, V-ODK Sportsmanship Trophy goes to. It’s the Iron Bowl winner between Auburn and Alabama.

88. Is Bobby Petrino going to be a special guest on American Choppers? He does have more free time on his hands these days.

89. Enough with all the crazy uniforms and the gloves with messages on them. We can’t all be Oregon, and frankly, I really wish everyone would stop trying. One idiot in the NCAA is one too many.

90. Comeback player in 2012? Tennessee WR Justin Hunter.

91. Monster unit this year? Look out for the Georgia LB’s. Jarvis Jones, Mike Gilliard Ramik Wilson and Alec Ogletree are a scary set of studs.

92. Player flying under the radar? Sam Montgomery at LSU. Tyrann Mathieu and other stars on the SEC Champs overshadowed Montgomery, but he was an All-American and a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year award last year. You’ll be hearing his name a lot on Saturdays and Sundays.

93. Greatest tackle in SEC history that didn’t count? Tommy Lewis of Alabama during the 1954 Cotton Bowl. Lewis’ bolted form the bench to stop a breakaway run by Rice’s Dickie Moegel, which would have gone for a 95-yard TD. Unfortunately, everyone, including Ronnie Milsap, saw Lewis’s thunderous tackle and the result was a TD for Moegel and unwanted notoriety for Lewis

94. Sorority girls in sundresses during September games.

95. The SEC is the only place in the world where two plus two equals third and six.

96. More from the Library? Read, “Turing Of The Tide,” which looks at how one game against USC in 1970 helped speed up integration in the Alabama football program.

97. Don’t get near Holly Rowe when it comes to either interviewing head coaches immediately after a game, or in the Shoney’s all you can eat breakfast buffet.

98. SEC Commissioner Mike Slive should make it a law at Auburn, LSU and Missouri that all women must wear those sexy Tiger ears to every game.

99. Slive should also pass into law that every SEC game must be played on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m., with the exception of L.S.U., who gets to play every home game at night. All stadiums would be required to have natural grass. No artificial or field turf.

100. Good to see Auburn is being cost conscious when it comes to travel. One trip to Atlanta, another to Nashville and a pair to games in Mississippi against Ole Miss and Mississippi State are the only times they will leave the state this year. I wonder if they will get a tax credit?

If you have read this far, I have one last beautiful SEC image for you to think about:

101. Close your eyes for a moment. Imagine standing at your favorite tailgate spot and look up at the sky. It’s deep blue and does not have a cloud in it.

The band walks by and is playing your school’s fight song. The smell of red meat cooking on a grill floats over to you from a cool breeze that has been hanging around all afternoon and caused you to put on your favorite school sweatshirt.

The sounds of ESPN’s Gameday can be heard from a TV connected to a satellite dish and you begin to get nervous when they talk about who your team is going to play today. To calm the nerves, you take a sip of “Daddy’s Apple Juice,” which burns your throat for a second, then sweetens as it goes down. The jolt of liquid courage makes you feel better about what is going to happen at 3:30.

You have the tickets in your pocket, a flask hidden somewhere on your body, hot sorority girls are everywhere, and your friends/family are all there with you.

You look around the tailgate, soaking it all in, and then it hits you. This must be what heaven looks like…

Follow Coach Scooter’s columns each week on SEC Sports Fan at SEC Football Blog.

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