The Southeastern Conference has been, by far, the most dominant program in college football for the better part of over half a decade. Historically, the SEC is one of the NCAA’s most successful conferences, enriched with tradition and pride.
The great debate among SEC fans during the conference’s seven-year BCS winning streak was whether or not to cheer for a rival program in SEC games. For example, was it more unacceptable for Auburn fans to cheer support Alabama against a Texas in the 2010 BCS National Title game due to conference pride or would cheering against an SEC team be an act of conference treason? Some SEC fans believe the latter, taking the SEC family mentality that “we can fight each other, but no outside our circle embarrasses our family.”
Here are five things that unite even the most bitter SEC rival fan bases:
5. Envy from other conferences
While the SEC has assumed its role as the dominant force in college football, opposing fans have become envious of the conference’s received praise. The best example may be the 2011 season. While several non-SEC teams were 11-1, Alabama, who previously suffered a loss to SEC West rival LSU, met the Tigers in an All-SEC BCS National Championship game. Although the Tide ultimately provided a convincingly dominant championship performance, the impression was given that the SEC was so far ahead of major conferences such as the Pac-10 (now Pac-12) and the Big 10. Even in victory, conferences still show distain toward the SEC. Following their defeat of Auburn in last season’s title game, many FSU fans participated in a sarcastic “SEC! SEC!” chant. This was also the case in both bowl and non-conference games in which Southeastern Conference teams got the short end of the stick. This envy could create a bond among SEC fan bases to have the “us against the world” mentality, similar to the conference pride example mentioned earlier.
4. SEC Network
The launch of the new SEC Network may have been the second most anticipated event by SEC fans outside of the upcoming season. The network provides 24-hour coverage of all things SEC. Fans of all SEC programs can agree on this monumental station and will all have a shared interest. Programs such as the SEC Storied documentaries will provide a closer look into the history of fans’ favorite and rival programs. Even if you’re an opposing fan, there is a chance that you will gain a new appreciation for your rival after watching this network.
3. Emergence of the Pac-12
There has been chatter this offseason that the Pac-12, not the SEC, is becoming the most powerful conference in college football. To many SEC faithful, such talk would be considered blasphemy and will likely continue to stir some controversy and debate. Programs like Oregon, Stanford, USC and Washington are gaining national attention entering 2014 season and the debate over the true superior conference continues. SEC fans can agree on one thing, their belief in their conference’s superiority. Once again, the “us vs. the world” mentality rears its head as the SEC, for once, is looked upon by some as the inferior conference. This will likely continue the backing of rival programs in not only the BCS title game, but also a newly implemented system.
2. College Football Playoff
2014 marks the first season in which the NCAA will decide its National Championship Game participants through a four-team playoff system. As was the case with the BCS system, SEC fans will watch their conference’s top teams closely and hope to reassume their dominance in the NCAA postseason. A four team playoff would likely benefit the SEC based on recent years of several teams finishing toward the top of the rankings. A change in the system won’t change the fact that SEC fans, as a majority, will support whichever team (or teams) represent their conference in the playoff rounds.
1. End of the streak
Jameis Winston and the Florida State Seminoles ended the SEC’s seven-year BCS championship streak. The pride of the NCAA’s most dominant conference has been tampered with and skeptics are starting to doubt whether the Southeastern Conference still holds an advantage over the rest of college football. This will only bring SEC programs closer together in their quest to reassume their place atop college football’s proverbial mountain. The SEC will look to return to its winning ways and fans will likely be hungrier for a championship than in recent years’ past.