Understanding the SEC Craze Firsthand

Alan BraunsteinContributor IAugust 18, 2009

In the recent special SEC Preview issue of Sports Illustrated, Austin Murphy wrote "It's an SEC World (and Everyone Else is Just Living in It)." It talks about the much-witnessed fanaticism for their college football teams in the South.

My friend Brian and I once talked about it, a long time ago, well before I moved to Florida. We laughed and thought, "man, get a professional team, would ya?" That person - me - has long since morphed into a fairly rabid Gators fan.  How did that happen?

Step 1: Marry a UF Grad

I started dating and then married a UF grad. Karen, now my wife, had told me, "Wait 'til we go to a Gators game. Just you, me and 90,000 of our closest friends at The Swamp!" Good grief - 90,000?! I pretty much hate people, so despising huge crowds is, usually, a given.

Step 2: Go to The Swamp

Well, we went to that first game I'd ever attended and ... WOW! ... the electricity is un-freakin-believable. I had never been to a game where people make so much noise, purposely, to confuse the opposing team's offense. And, the colors - Orange & Blue - everywhere you looked in the form of wigs, glasses, hats, shirts, painted body parts; you name it.

Step 3: Witness a Rivalry Game in Person

Last year was the second year of going to Gator football games for me, if I recall correctly. And, we were very fortunate to attend three huge games:

  • Florida v. Miami:  A huge, every third year rivalry that we got to watch from the front row at the 50-yard-line. Thanks Frank!!
  • Georgia v. Florida:  A huge, every year rivalry that we got to see from the end-zone, Section 148, because of a reasonable student who sold us two tickets outside JAX stadium the day of the game.
  • Oklahoma v. Florida:  The biggest game we've gone to, in-person, to date. I had to buy Orange Bowl seats to obtain BCS Championship seats at the Orange Bowl. Though I never recouped my costs on the Orange Bowl seats, the price for the two championship tickets was well worth it.

Where does this all go from here? Well, as you can see, our boat is decorated in full Florida Gator regalia. But, that won't get us to/from the games. It will, however, get us to/from the games we'll be watching from waterfront restaurants in the St Pete area (Ya Gotta Go to Gators).

Happily, we've acquired season tickets and FL-v-GA tickets via eBay. And, we're set up with "DIBZ" for the BCS Championship in Pasadena (fingers crossed). Just as last year, if the Gators go to the SEC Championship, we'll be watching it with the Key West Gator Club at Jack Flat's in, well, Key West.

As for "get a professional team" ... You can keep your pro teams. I now understand the excitement of college football.  Well, SEC college football, anyway.

Go Gators!

p.s.: I reserve the right to change my mind about following NFL football once I see if/where Tim Tebow lands in the pros.