It’s the little things in life that piss us off. Sometimes it’s someone who cuts you off in traffic. Other times its people who use words like, “triggered” or “social justice.” Other times it’s northerners who refer to the NFL as “real football.” Apparently, there are millions of people in New England, and presumably the United States at large, who look down on college football. Moreover, they fail to understand why the South takes college football so seriously. Here are several reasons why the South loves college football.
It’s All We Had
From the inception of pro football until 1965, the most southern team in the NFL was the Washington Redskins ©. [Yes, Comcastro will liberally claim intellectual property ownership of that name until the government tells me otherwise.] The Atlanta Falcons joined the NFL in 1965 as an expansion team and finally brought professional football to the South.
Old habits die hard. Just because the city slickers in Atlanta got a fancy football team didn’t change anything. Football fans in Alabama cared more about the outcome of Auburn vs. Alabama than anything happening in the NFL. Ditto for the fans of UGA, UF, GT, FSU, Clemson, and virtually every other big time college program.
College football’s history stretches further back in the South than anywhere else. Georgia Tech, for example, was founded in 1885. GT started playing UGA in 1893 and have played ever since. That means that the Clean Old Fashioned Hate goes back over a century. Compare with the Falcons vs. Saints rivalry. The hate of a few decades pales compared to the hate of 6 generations.
The worst entertainment in professional sports is an NFL halftime show. Granted, we don’t really ask much from our NFL franchises during the break, but at least do something better than children jumping on trampolines while raising money for the latest cause of week.
College understands fun. Marching bands can put on fantastic shows. Pretty much every band in the SEC, and several in the ACC, are worth the cost of admission. A big band can swing a crowd. The band generally contains the biggest, meanest, nastiest football fans in the whole stadium.
Then you’ve got tailgating. While I’m sure there are great tailgates somewhere in the NFL (Greenbay, presumably), there is nothing compared to college. Auburn, for example, has people show up in trailers on Thursday to start drinking for a Saturday game. What do these people do for money? I honestly have no idea. That’s not the point. The point is that they’re there. Where are NFL fans on Thursday? Probably watching Thursday night football on ESPN.
Why do you love a certain NFL team over another? Do you pull for the Steelers because you appreciate their particular style of defense, or were you just born in Pittsburgh?
College football, in great contrast to the NFL, has a personal connection for us. If you went to Tennessee, then watching the team play is more than just watching a game. You’re pulling for an institution that educated you and provided you with some of the most formative years of your life. College football is about more than just the game. It’s about the spirit of the campus. What is it to be a part of the Crimson Tide? What is a Longhorn? Who are the Trojans?
While most college football games decline to answer broad philosophical questions regarding the meaning of football in our lives, the point remains that being a part of a school means something. We all love something about ourselves. For many, college football unlocks old memories. We feel a part of something bigger. It’s kind of like nationalism but with fewer world wars.