Tennessee Volunteers can be heard from Bristol to Memphis chanting "S-E-C! S-E-C!" after Alabama's third BCS National Championship in four years. It's a common chant here in the South, but what does it really mean for the Vols?
A born and bred southerner, I always cheered for my SEC brethren in bowl season. It's just what we do! But this year, I found myself rooting against Vanderbilt, Florida and last night, Alabama.
Obviously, it didn't do any good for Notre Dame, but the fact that I somehow strayed from the instinctive SEC-or-bust mentality that infects the conference was noteworthy.
I think I know why I strayed. It's because when you chant "S-E-C! S-E-C!", you're really chanting"Al-a-bama! Al-a-bama!" And goodness knows, I'd never chant that.
Since 2006, Alabama and Florida have won five of the seven BCS National Championships. So maybe I should amend my revised SEC chant to "Al-a-bama! Flo-ri-da!"
Alabama and Florida. Tennessee's two most hated foes. Starting to see why I can't claim to be all-SEC all-bowl season anymore?
When the Volunteers were winning big, it was easy to pull for others in the conference. From 1990 to 2005, Tennessee was 151-45-2, won eight bowl games, three conference championships and one national championship.
Since 2006, when "S-E-C! S-E-C!" really got going, Tennessee has gone 47-42 and won one bowl game.
Simply, I don't find solace in Alabama winning yet another title. It doesn't help the Volunteers, and it doesn't make me any prouder to be a southerner.
And that's what it's really about, isn't it? It's about other regions looking at SEC country, buying into worn out stereotypes and making fun. When football season comes, we get to put it to them, and it feels good.
But having been to Wisconsin, Penn State, Iowa, Northwestern and Indiana football games (two Big Ten alumni in the family), the pain felt from seeing the Tide roll with another national title is far worse than a few fans giggling at my accent.
I implore Vol fans to see my viewpoint. You can still be a proud Tennessean (or transplant, if you're not in the Volunteer State) without rooting for your archrivals! Alabama, Florida and Vanderbilt won't get my support (for what it's worth) until the Volunteers are back on top. Then, I'll throw them a bone.
Give Butch Jones a few years, so that we can stop droning on with "S-E-C! S-E-C!" and starting chanting "Tenn-e-ssee! Tenn-e-ssee!"