We’ve debated this before, often via twitter, but it’s a subject that never gets old and seemingly can never be completely put to bed. Particularly around this time of year – bowl season – Big Tenners seem to morph into what braindead SECers are all year: blind conference loyalists. And it’s something we never quite understand.
Let’s be clear on a few things. You will definitely see us take shots at the SEC as a whole – but that’s almost entirely because of how they all blanketly cheer for their conference, as though the mere fact that you got your ass kicked by Alabama this year means you can somehow make some kind of claim on their success. This is dumbass thinking, pure and simple – don’t ever lose sight of that. It’s absolutely no different from me as a New York Giants fan screaming “NFC EAST! NFC EAST!” if the Eagles were to win the Super Bowl (I know, I know, the Eagles winning the Super Bowl… just suspend disbelief for a moment), or as a Yankees fan, me chanting “AL EAST! AL EAST!” after the Red Sox won the World Series. Does that make any sense? Of course not. It’s idiotic. And so is what mouth-breathing SEC “fans” do all season long. The most hilarious part, of course, is that they see no irony in the fact that the two teams that came to their hallowed conference from the Big 12 two years ago (A&M and Mizzou) have since dominated the vaunted SEC.
But back to conference cheering. We don’t consider ourselves to arbiters of who you can cheer for and why you can cheer for them. Let’s also get that out of the way. You can do whatever you want – obviously. That’s what makes sports great. But to suggest we’re “bad” fans because we don’t automatically cheer for hatable programs like OSU or Wisconsin is just nonsense. We spend the entire year hating our conference opponents (or strongly disliking them) and then suddenly we’re supposed to root them on and want them to win? We just don’t downshift that fast.
Now….that’s also not to say we don’t pull for Big Ten teams sometimes. But as we’ve said before – and this is the key to our philosophy – it’s a game-by-game basis. If a Big Ten team we don’t loathe is playing an SEC school we kind of do destest, well, then sure, Big Ten all the way. But let’s say South Carolina is playing Michigan, as they did last bowl season (when Clowney detonated Michigan’s Vincent Smith). My dad, Papa Money, went to South Carolina. I was accepted to SC and visited, even seeing the venerable Steve Taneyhill live in action in a 1994 game. (So yes, I was that close to writing a site called “Cocked Sports.”)
Anyway, my point is, I kinda sorta like South Carolina. And I really don’t like much about Michigan. So why would I automatically pull for them? This isn’t USA vs. USSR – I don’t have any allegiance to Michigan. So I have no interest in seeing them win.
On the other hand, I was eager to see Michigan State win the Rose Bowl, and I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it’s because I know what it’s like to have been an also-ran for many years and the idea of making it to that mountaintop is just intoxicating (we were in the house when Drew Brees almost made the dream happen for Purdue). Maybe it’s because I’ve been a Dantonio fan since before it was cool and I like seeing him do what Saban was unable to do there. But regardless, I just happen to like seeing Michigan State football succeed. So fine, I’ll pull for them.
Tonight, of course, is Ohio State vs Clemson in the Orange Bowl. This one reminds me of the OSU-Arkansas game from a couple of years ago. I remember saying then that if OSU wins, the SEC loses and if the Hogs win then OSU loses… so I was okay either way. But that wasn’t totally true – the truth was those were both unlikable programs and I wanted them both to get blown out. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen often, but I suppose Arkansas cratering to the Earth and OSU getting sanctioned shortly thereafter was a nice consolation.
I don’t like OSU or Clemson, so I’m actually not sure how much I’ll watch this one. But if OSU loses and loses badly, I can’t say that I’ll cringe because of the Big Ten losing. I’ll kind of enjoy it, honestly, and I’m not ashamed to say that. Because, honestly, what does the Big Ten winning these games do for Purdue? Because that’s the logic people use, right? “You should pull for the Big Ten because it helps Purdue.” Really? How so? I’d much rather OSU lose confidence in their abilities and mope into any future meetings with Purdue. I’ll take any advantage I can get.
You know what else? ESPN and the national media has long-ago made up their mind on Big Ten football and there’s nothing that can be done now. Case in point was on New Year’s Day when ESPN put up a graphic late in the day about how it’s been “rough” for the Big Ten lately and what their record has been in BCS bowl games. Uh, you mean the conference that has more BCS bowl appearances than any other conference? Oh, wait, that doesn’t matter, right? And this was also after Nebraska beat ranked SEC darling Georgia and MSU had won the Rose Bowl. Pretty decent day, honestly, because even the Big Ten teams that lost didn’t get crushed or anything. But that doesn’t matter now because the narrative is written and ESPN has a new SEC Network to promote. So again, why subject yourself to rooting for the Big Ten to win when you don’t even like the schools you’re pulling for, particularly when there’s no real benefit (to you) to the Big Ten team winning? Are you really going to go into work and boast to your colleagues about how Ohio State won the Orange Bowl because you went to Purdue? I surely hope not.
That’s what the slack-jawed SECers piss me off most with – they actually rile me up to where I almost find myself defending Ohio State. And there’s no way I’m going to do that, which is why it’s easy for us to simply say, no, we don’t blanketly root for the conference and neither should you, in our opinion.
Watch games for a good game. Root against someone if you like. Or root for a team you’d actually like to see win. But don’t tell others they should pull for the Big Ten unless you’re a Cubs fan who loves seeing the Cardinals make the World Series. Because that makes just as much sense.