What if I told you that a man could pit two fan bases against one another for simply removing a bumper sticker from his truck?

Check that.

What if I told you that a man could pit two SEC* fan bases against one another for simply removing a bumper sticker from his truck?

You’d say, “yeah, that doesn’t surprise me.”

Welcome to the offseason, folks. It’s a beautiful time when things like that can go viral in a hurry.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s some context.

Tate Ratledge is the No. 5 offensive tackle recruit in the 2020 class. He’s a Rome, Ga., native who has offers from virtually everywhere, but on Monday, he made his college choice between Georgia and Tennessee. As we found out, Ratledge picked Georgia and Bulldogs fans continued to flex their muscles on social media.

Why wouldn’t they? Kirby Smart’s staff is dominating on the recruiting trail while Florida appears to be shooting itself in the foot daily.

But what happened next had nothing to do with Florida, but rather the team Georgia beat out to get Ratledge’s commitment — Tennessee.

Ratledge’s dad, Dean, is a lifelong Tennessee fan living in Georgia. One could see that by looking at his truck, which has a Tennessee decal in the center of his back windshield. Or rather, it had* a Tennessee decal on the center of his back windshield.

Once his son committed to Georgia, Dean Ratledge removed the Power T decal from his truck:

On the front of Ratledge’s truck is now a Georgia plate. Surely he’ll fit in with his Georgia surroundings a bit better now.

But Dean’s decision to remove the Tennessee decal isn’t the #ItMightMeanTooMuch move. If anything, it’s the opposite. What would have been #ItMightMeanTooMuch would have been if Dean was like, “I will not attend one of my son’s games, nor will I ever wear red and black. Go Vols.” But he didn’t say that. Instead, he’s being a good dad and supporting his son.

The #ItMightMeanTooMuch was the reaction to said decal removal. For starters, Fox’s Atlanta TV station got video of the decal removal. The fact that watching a dude remove a decal was worth getting video of is not only peak offseason, but it’s peak SEC offseason.

It was worth getting video of because you knew the reaction was going to bring out the Georgia-Tennessee war on social media. Needless to say, it did (I’m basing that on the over 2,200 likes that tweet got).

This sequence in the replies was laugh out loud funny:

Daaaaaaaaaang. Jay Dalton went there.

That’s the ultimate “I’ll defend my team to the death statement.” Like, you just watched your team get smacked 79-12 in consecutive games against Georgia and you’re doing to drop a 2016 reference? That’s bold.

Oh, and I love the belief that Tennessee stickers are weaker than Georgia stickers. As in, when you take off a Georgia sticker, it’s a slow peel. It might even leave a mark on your truck!

Ok, enough talk. More replies! More replies!

I wouldn’t necessarily call what Dean Ratledge is doing as “giving up the Big Orange.” It’s perceived as symbolic because we have the visual, but there’s nothing wrong with still rooting for Tennessee but just not outwardly showing it. He’s not the first football parent to keep his fandom under wraps because of the awkwardness it could create with his son.

And to be fair, some people in the replies totally understood that.

Ah, that’s more like it. Respect. Empathy. Fanaticism.

Well, maybe not “fanaticism.” That might be a bit much.

It is an interesting subject, though. What if you asked the average SEC fan, “what would it take for you to stop rooting for your team and starting rooting for your rival?” I bet the responses would be all over the place.

“Give me $10 million.”

“You couldn’t pay me all the money in the world.”

“Promise me season tickets to my new team for life.”

“You couldn’t pay me to step foot in that stadium.”

But believe it or not, there’s a short list of things that can trump SEC fandom. Rooting on your kid is certainly one of them.

This discussion got me thinking about a certain movie line that Tennessee fans know well by now (I’m pretty sure I’ve referenced it in #ItMightMeanTooMuch before?). It’s in “The Blind Side,” which is somehow now a decade old. You know what line it is. It’s when Leigh Anne Tuohy is talking to Michael Oher about his Tennessee recruitment and she says “Sean and I have been talking and, Michael, if you’re going to accept a football scholarship, we think it should be from Tennessee. And I promise you I will be at every game cheering for you. … I will not wear that gaudy orange. I will not. It is not in my color wheel and I’m not gonna wear it.”

(Don’t be the person to be like “well, it wasn’t her biological son so it’s a different situation.”)

The thing that’s been lost in the shuffle in all of this is that Ratledge is only committed to Georgia. The Early Signing Period is still 7 months away, which means as a borderline 5-star, everyone will continue to recruit him. I’m not saying it’ll happen, but if Ratledge were to flip to Tennessee or another school, it was only a decal. It’s not like his dad got a tattoo removed.

At least not that we know of. But if he did, we’re definitely going to need to see video of that, too.