To fans of the Southeastern Conference, the SEC isn’t a conference amongst numerous college football conferences. It’s a religion.

Our religion stretches from the swamplands of Florida to the oil fields of East Texas, taking in the States of Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, Kentucky and Tennessee.

We go to church, both on Saturday and on Sunday, and like to scream our lungs out at both. And we’ll always talk about one or the other all weekend long, sometimes with a cocktail in our hand, sometimes not. And everyone’s invited to the party, as long as you promise not to swear in front of the ladies.

Our devotees are loyal, passionate, and when it comes to games against other conferences (and there are some, do you believe it?), we’ll cheer for our own team. If our team doesn’t win it, we’re happy to quote from the Good Book Of SEC Domination, noting that it’ll be our team’s turn next time. Unless you’re from the Good Church of Kentucky, when you’re just happy beating the crap out of all and sundry at basketball.

Some people don’t understand the passion for SEC Football, and some people do. If you don’t understand SEC Football, go and look up Wright Thompson’s essay about SEC Football. He’s an Ole Miss man who writes like Ole Man Faulkner, and that’s quite the compliment. Read it thoroughly as a theology student would read The Book of Mark – And then read it again.

In our conferences, we are all is a hated rivals– some more than others. Georgia and Florida fans won’t like each other the year round, and let’s just say that LSU fans don’t like anyone who gets in the way of their beloved Tigers. And as for Alabama and Auburn? If you are stupid enough to have your wedding on the weekend of the game in the State of Alabama, either expect an empty church or dinner, or make sure you’ve wired a big screen TV to keep everyone happy.

And when it comes to our attendance at church, our university students dress up for the occasion. Our fraternity boys wear ties, and our sorority girls wear dresses. There’s no room for jeans and T-shirts amongst our co-eds, it simply wouldn’t look right.

Our churches have mascots and sometimes nicknames. Mike The Tiger lives in Death Valley, there’s a War Eagle in Auburn, a Bulldog at Sanford, and Mummy and Daddy Gator at Florida (though thankfully, they aren’t the live versions!). And the sound of our churches are loud – very loud, particularly when our biggest rival is in town.

And if you are imbibing – which might just happen- make sure that you try a Bama Bomb or Kentucky bourbon and attend the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville or a tailgate at The Grove in Oxford, Mississippi, or North Lawn in Athens, Georgia, or maybe you’ll be lucky enough to be recruited to the ‘Vol Navy’ in Knoxville. And on your way to Baton Rouge, make sure you experience the drive-through dacquiri (although make sure you’re not driving while drinking it!). And everywhere, make sure you eat your weight in gumbo shrimp and cajun chicken.

This year, our congregation will be asking new questions. How will Texas A&M and Missouri fare in the league? Will the 12th Man really be a factor against Florida? Will Alabama survive the loss of so many players? Will LSU get back to the National Title game? Will Georgia make it twice in a row in the SEC title game? Will the Gators come back with a Chomp, or have they ceded control of the state to the Seminoles? Will Tennessee resurrect itself? Will the trees at Toomer’s Corner survive? And will Georgia find ways to lose as it did this season?

All these questions will be answered by the Gods of the SEC in September, October and November. And in January, we will all be singing from the same hymn sheet.

And before, during and after the season is done is going to hold your hand all of the way – with the theme song of ‘Back Down South‘ by the King of Leons.


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