In the last few years, social media has made viewing college football — and all sports and cultural events — a totally new experience. Instead of just watching on television with their friends, networks like Twitter and Vine make being a fan that much better, with instant videos and .GIFs (pronounced like the peanut butter) and endless jokes flooding your timeline.
What moments in SEC history would have had your notifications going crazy?
The Junction Boys
There is plenty of uproar over player safety these days, with rules on targeting and concussion protocol now in place and wearable technology to determine a player’s risk for head injury now on the rise, you can just imagine what people would have been saying on Twitter had Bear Bryant’s first summer workouts at Texas A&M happened today. The players who made it through the camp were called “survivors.” Bryant’s career might not have survived in the social media era.
You thought Johnny Manziel was crazy to follow in 2012-13? Stick Namath in the social media era and you have a whirlwind around the former Alabama quarterback. He was a Civil Rights advocate in the Deep South in the early 1960s, which would have been newsworthy with the coverage college athletes receive today. He was also a notorious partier, and was suspended for the 1964 Sugar Bowl after missing curfew. Namath’s NFL career would have been even wilder, with his fur coats and questionable friends.
“My God, a freshman!”
When Leonard Fournette hit the truck stick on Howard Matthews last fall, everyone was going crazy drawing comparisons to Herschel Walker’s thunderous first college touchdown. The original — complete with Larry Munson’s now-famous call of the play — has stood the test of time, and it’s still the thing that 15-year NFL veteran Bill Bates is most remembered for.
Bo and Sir Charles overlapping at Auburn
Bo Jackson had plenty of moments that would have had Twitter and Vine going wild — going over the top against Alabama in 1982 was just one of them. At the same time that Jackson was putting out ridiculous athletic feats, there was another superstar on the Plains, future NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, with the two overlapping from 1982-84. The Round Mound of Rebound would grab a board, push the ball up the floor and dunk on opponents — which might have been more impressive than the crazy stuff Jackson was doing considering Barkley weighed close to 300 pounds during his college career.
Punt, Bama, Punt
Auburn’s Kick Six victory in 2013 caused absolute pandemonium on social media. Auburn’s infamous win 41 years prior would have been doubly as insane, with the Tigers blocking and returning two Alabama punts for touchdowns in the final 10 minutes of the game and coming back from a 16-0 deficit to win 17-16. Playing at home, the undefeated Crimson Tide were heavily favored coming into the game, making the crazy comeback even more dramatic.
Steve Spurrier at Florida
The Head Ball Coach is fun now, an old gunslinger who says whatever he feels like. Just imagine all the 140-character quotes we could have gotten when the Gators were hanging 50 every weekend and winning SEC championship after SEC championship. The first reporter to tweet out, “You can’t spell Citrus without U-T” would have had his notifications blowing up for hours upon hours.
The first SEC championship game
The 1992 title game between Alabama and Florida was a momentous occasion, the first conference championship game in college football history, and it certainly didn’t hurt that it featured Gene Stallings’ undefeated Crimson Tide going up against Spurrier’s Gators.
The ending of this one would have had people losing their minds, too. After Florida rallied from down 21-7 to tie it up in the fourth quarter, Alabama cornerback Antonio Langham stepped in front of a Shane Matthews pass with just more than three minutes to go and raced to pay dirt, putting Alabama up for good in a Vine-ready play.
South Carolina’s 21-game losing streak
The jokes — and the pity — for Vanderbilt as the Commodores stumbled to an 0-8 SEC record in 2014 were bad, but at least that team won three games. In 1998 and 1999, South Carolina won precisely one game combined, including taking an 0-11 mark in Lou Holtz’s first season at the helm. The legendary coach would have taken a beating for failing to lead his team to a single win, and those pathetic Gamecocks would have been easily meme-able.
“Hold the rope”
Back in 2002, with Alabama hit by probation (and nearly the death penalty) from the NCAA, second-year coach Dennis Franchione was doing his best to hold things together. He very publicly implored all of his players and recruits to “hold the rope” and ride out the storm at Alabama.
He ignored his own message.
After failed extension negotiations with Alabama, Franchione up and left for Texas A&M, turning him into one of the biggest villains in the country. Remember LeBron James’ “The Decision,” when he took his talents to South Beach? This was just like that, only with rabid Alabama fans.
Nick Saban going to the NFL, then to Alabama
Rumors of Saban bolting LSU were strong back in the early 2000s, when he was busy leading the Tigers to prominence and their first national title in nearly 50 years. After years of speculation that Saban would eventually go to the next level and several job offers that the coach turned down, he was eventually convinced to take a job with the Miami Dolphins. Those rumors — and the uproar that followed — would have been even louder if fans had second-by-second insight into the drama.
Just two years later, rumors that Saban would go back to the the college level began to swirl as he struggled in the NFL. Saban repeatedly denied interest in taking the job at Alabama, only to accept the position in December after what he would eventually term a “professional mishandling.” We all know how well the Twitter crowd handles things like that.
The Tebow speech
Tebow is a legend, and the speech he gave after a 2008 loss to Ole Miss is now memorialized on a plaque at the Swamp. The internet would have been blowing up with reporters tweeting out Tebow’s inspirational message line-by-line back then. As you could imagine, half of college football Twitter would be fawning over Tebow, while the other half would be deriding him for crying because, you know, it’s Twitter.