I’m calling it Conference Superiority Complex, CSC for simplicity of typing.
We’ve all been affected by it, and at some point, infected with it. Over the past few years of college football, we’ve translated what could have been arguments about some of the best seasons in college football’s history into glorified conference beauty pageants.
Fans engulf message boards, blogs, radio call-in shows, TV, and any other sports medium arguing the merits of their conference as the newest and most obnoxious way to support their team.
This most recent slant on chest-pounding braggadocio began after the Auburn snub of ’04. It was amplified by the Big Ten’s embarrassing debacle in the ’06 BCS game.
It cemented in every home after last season’s coin flip selection of LSU as Ohio State’s BCS opponent that left teams in every BCS conference debating the merits of their top contender.
Before we knew it, you, a die-hard Longhorns fan, woke up in the bed of an Oklahoma Sooner with a Missouri T-shirt on and Jayhawks face tattoos. All in the name of advocating your conference to the BCS selection committees.
It’s sickening what CSC has made us do, but we have all been there over the past 48 months.
How on earth did we go from a college football landscape that emphasized and survived on things like The Third Week in October, The Game, The Red River Shootout, The Border War, The Backyard Brawl, etc., to one that still emphasizes these games—but only if they don’t hurt their conference's chances of winning a championship?
It's all about perspectives. We fans need to get our perspectives back; that’s what I’m here to help.
We’ll start with you, Mr. Husky. Lost out there in the Pacific Northwest, many of you and your Pac-10 brethren have decided the only way to get noticed was to band together and fight those east of the Rockies together.
Huskies, Cougars, and Ducks joined side-by-side in an attempt to gain legitimacy. Only their reasoning came out sounding something like, "USC has the most top-five finishes of any team over the past six seasons."
What? Why the heck are Washington and Oregon fans trying to defend themselves against other conferences by quoting USC stats? How does this make sense?
It doesn’t. But that’s what CSC is, a defense of the best team in your conference no matter who it is.
If your team isn’t that team, you turn to the team that is, and by default it makes your team better. That’s the theory at least.
How do you cure it, oh wearer of the purple and gold? You have to get back to your roots.
When someone says the Pac-10 sucks, you say, "No it doesn’t, but I heard people from Wazzou finally discovered how to make fire." You can defend your conference and defend your fanhood credibility at the same time.
CSC cannot be allowed to take what’s most important to us, and for Washington fans, it’s the Apple Cup. What would you do if the Apple Cup wasn’t important to you anymore? What if defeating your lifelong rival became less important than proving yourself to other conferences?
Think about it.
Next up, Sparty. Now you’ve been left behind in recent years, the butt of a joke who is part of an even larger joke. Your epic collapses in October and November only threw fuel on the fire of the Big Ten sucks bonanza.
But this isn’t you. You shouldn’t become involved in a Big Ten supremacy debate that forces you to stick up for that other state team.
Sparty hates one team more than all others, that hideously colored, cross-state rival, M*ch*g*n. So how can you justify yourself cheering for Big Blue last New Year’s to defeat the Florida Gators?
That wasn’t you talking; the CSC had taken over. It will make you do uncontrollable things, things you thought you weren’t capable of, and most definitely aren't proud of.
Like when Adrian Arrington caught the go-ahead score in the CapitalOne Bowl, you cheered.
Or how the Appalachian State game made you feel bittersweet. Now what would the Big Ten haters say, you thought?
Or when Wisconsin didn’t get upset last September by UNLV, you breathed a sigh of relief because you didn't have to defend yet another Big Ten collapse even though five years ago that same loss Wisconsin suffered to UNLV was hilarious.
And you felt some amount of shame, and partly responsible for Ohio State losing the past two BCS championships. Why? You hate Ohio State.
CSC made you do that. If your conference is perceived as weak, you are weak. But how much are you willing to give up to defend a conference made up of teams you hate?
All that is right and, to a point, pure about sports in general are the rivalries. Could you ever imagine a Yankees fan cheering for a Red Sox team when the only effect it had would be AL bragging rights?
Do you think the Yankees’ fans cheered for Boston or Colorado last fall?
Would a Duke fan cheer for the Tar Heels in the Final Four because it makes the ACC top dog? No!
Does a Cowboys fan gloat about the fact that they beat the Super Bowl champion Giants twice, even though they didn't win the Super Bowl? Well some dumb ones might; they are from Texas after all, but they shouldn't.
Sparty, you must go back to your bitter ways of old. It’s the only thing that can save you from further years of quoting M*ch*g*n and Ohio State statistics to make yourself look good. It’s not natural, it’s not healthy.
Cornhuskers, you have the same problem. Your once proud and distinguished program has fallen on hard times the past few seasons, but people forget only seven years ago you were in the BCS Championship game.
That’s more than Alabama can say.
So you’ve latched on to how well Texas and Oklahoma have done as a proclamation for your program, you’re living vicariously through them while your program is down. You even wished Missouri a BCS bid last season, even though they pasted you 41-6.
Why do this? You had 33 consecutive seasons of nine-plus wins from 1969-2001. That’s utterly amazing.
(Sidenote: think about that for a second, 33 consecutive seasons of nine-plus wins, how astonishing is that? For as great as Miami was in the '80s and '90s, they only put together 10 straight seasons of nine-plus. USC's recent dominance has only spanned six seasons of nine-plus. College football’s presumed end-all-be-all, Notre Dame, never more than six straight.)
And now you’re willing to throw away all your past glory for a few cheap declarations about how good the Big 12 is? You bought into the hype of CSC as a way to make yourself feel better and deal with the fact that your team isn’t that good right now.
Does it really make you feel that much better about your conference being good when your team isn’t? Are you really that happy that you have to listen to opposing Big 12 fans brag about their recent successes while you sit and sulk at another Alamo Bowl berth?
Those teams are ones you face every season, you have to deal with their badgering and boasting year after year.
Why do you care less about them than an SEC or ACC debate? It’s against everything you believe in, don’t do it!
I think it’s time now to discuss the conference responsible for this outbreak, the SEC, and its most guilty member, the Gators.
CSC’s most telling signs are coercion with an enemy against another, useless stat quotation, scheduling debate, and conference bowl records. Florida fans are guilty of all of this.
There was a time, and I remember it well, when you only cared about two things, beating Tennessee and beating Florida State. Your scathing diatribes focused only on them, and with good reason. You had jokes like you can’t spell Citrus without U-T.
It was a good, healthy, hate-filled rivalry.
But now you are the ring leader of CSC debates on message boards and call-in shows about how great your entire conference is. You’re happy to admit defeat as long as someone else from the SEC wins.
What you should do is remove all the team logos and colors from each school and adopt the SEC logo as your own. You could go by names like SEC Florida, SEC Louisiana, SEC Starkville, etc.
You even stooped so low as to cheer for Tennessee against Wisconsin this past bowl season. That is pure CSC craziness.
We all know what started this cycle for you, and once you got on it you couldn’t stop. A couple of big conference bowl wins here, a couple there, and all of a sudden you felt like you were invincible.
Two conference national championships in a row, three in five seasons. That really is something to be proud of and you should brag a bit.
But somewhere along the line you got soft. You forgot that when LSU won a national championship, it meant you didn’t. When the last week of October arrives this season, a little less hatred is felt in Jacksonville because this was the same team you cheered for to spank Hawaii last year.
You also forgot the Big 12, who won or shared four championships between 1994 and 2000. They eventually fell off.
The same ACC that was proclaimed to have formed the greatest conference ever five years ago when they added Miami (who had won three of their last four BCS games), Virginia Tech, and B.C. (which hasn’t won a BCS game since the merger).
Your reign of supremacy only lasts so long.
What’s going to happen when you play an undefeated team in November that is BCS Championship bound if they win, but your team, Gators’ fans, is already 7-3 and out of that race?
Do you hope your team loses so your conference gets a representative in the BCS title game? Are you sure about that answer? The longer CSC takes hold, could you see that as a possibility?
I can see a dumbing down effect. Interstate and interconference hatred that has been a long-standing tradition now turns to merely interconference dislike, and then interconference angst, and then just mild irritation with burning.
It will happen. Let CSC take hold for another few years and I promise you, you will learn and love the lyrics to Rocky Top, if only for one game in January.
You've done this.
Excessive celebration over a few championships has brought us here. What do we have left if on a fall Saturday in October you can’t watch Tennessee and laugh as they get pummeled by Notre Dame like they did in 2005?
What happens if I, an Ohio State diehard, can’t enjoy a good drubbing of M*ch*g*n at the hand of another, even if it’s a D-IAA school?
Or if Texas fans can’t enjoy last season’s embarrassment in Lincoln? I ask you men, what has happened to us?
The Conference Superiority Complex must go. From this day forward everyone must commit to getting back to our ideals of team and self, not league. I was just as guilty as anyone of this.
However, I will no longer quote the Big Ten’s bowl record against the SEC as 14-12 over the past 10 seasons because some of those games gave M*ch*g*n a win. That disgusts me.
I will no longer argue about how weak of a schedule (insert Pac-10 team A) has when I could just as easily make fun of Wisconsin for scheduling Cal-Poly this season.
I will no longer try to cheer for the Big Ten against other teams because it’s much, much funnier to laugh at them for losing to teams like Western Michigan (Iowa), San Jose State (Illinois), Louisiana Tech (Michigan State), or Appalachian State (we all know this one).
I will no longer argue the merits of Ron Zook’s coaching abilities prior to a game against USC.
I will no longer care if the Big Ten posts a losing bowl record. I won’t care, as long as Ohio State wins. This is all that should matter to us, our team winning.
Two-plus years of argument and blogosphere banter about whose conference beat whose and who did what to which team and when made people slowly forget that they hate teams within their conference.
We can’t change overnight, as this has become our most prolific discussion topic over the past two seasons. It’s like learning how to talk all over again; we have to find new topics to discuss.
As a group we must step up and start discussing the actual games and players and teams, our teams. Go cold turkey, give it up.
Stop researching endless records of teams three years ago you didn’t give two *&%@! about and start researching what’s good about your team.
If you know more about what’s expected from Georgia’s special teams this season than what’s expected of your own, that’s a problem.
So get out of the house. Go see your team’s open practice. Read a book on your school’s history. Get back to the basics of why you first started enjoying college football and stop worrying about all this CSC nonsense.
In the end we don’t have any control over it anyway.