I promised everyone I’d be back soon. On this edition of The South Will Blog Again we will finish our coverage of the 2012 Bowl Season with my analysis of the National Championship of between Alabama and Notre Dame.
Once again, to no surprise to my readers, the SEC emerged victorious. And I suspect to folks not named “Holtz” it wasn’t too shocking that Bama won. But I suspect it surprised a few Yankees and SEC haters just how much of a beat down it was.
As I said on Facebook at the time, the Irish haven’t looked this weak since the Potato Famine.
While on the one hand, having the “Houndstooth Mafia” win again is going to be obnoxious. All of us non-Tide SEC types are going to spend all season hearing the arrogant rants and chants of Crimson Pride. No one has more annoying Sidewalk Alums than Bama. Not even the Irish. On the other hand, what am I saying? Even Bama’s concrete graduates take a back seat to the hordes of Plastic Paddies in this country.
Still, my blog, nay my entire life is about all things Southern so despite my dislike of Rammer Bammer Jammer and Company I was glad to see the mighty elephant stampede the leprecaun.
- Southern Blogger
RUDY VERSUS FORREST GUMP
“Mama always said football is like a plate of barbecue. The North don’t know anything about it”.
I hate the movie Rudy. I really hate it. For those who haven’t seen this Disney “classic” 3’7” Hobbit Sean Astin graduates high school, kind of sucks but “has heart” (which is coach speak for that girl has a nice personality), fails at his Midwestern steal plant job, somehow gets into community college, fails to get into Notre Dame because his grades “have heart” and then still buys a letterman jacket he didn’t earn from a lame school he didn’t attend. Someone lit a candle and/or found the pot of gold and “it’s a Mighty Ducks miracle!” he got into Notre Dame.
But then our Hobbit friend meets up with Pauly Shore and a caveman at UCLA (wait that’s another movie)….oh no….I remember…He tries out for the Fighting Irish and his heart gives out…figuratively. Then yada yada the kid bugs the coach to let him be a human tackling dummy so he can pretend he earned his dumb letterman jacket. After 2 hours of being discouraged he gets help from some Louis Gossett Jr. type guy who tells him to (surprise) “have heart”. Rudy makes the team because it’s actually not too hard to make the teams outside of the SEC and he eventually tackles someone. He’s carried off the field because as we know not many Notre Dame players can make tackles.
Forrest Gump on the other hand is a lesson in Southern courage. Rednecks chase Gump, Gump is forced to run. In the SEC running is a good thing and Bear Bryant agrees and so Gump is a star halfback at Alabama. It’s no big deal that he can barely write his name because he can play football. This means Rudy wouldn’t have had much of a chance to tackle him. Being a Southerner, Gump fights for his country while in Rudy’s part of the country people are burning draft cards. Gump excels at all sports and at life. He even gets the girl although that girl isn’t on the righteous path. Rudy just got a stupid jacket.
Gump also got an Oscar. As I said Rudy sucks.
WHEN IRISH COMMENTATORS ARE LYING
The point of the above treatise is to show that while having heart and making good grades is nice and all to win at football you need to know how to run.
And Alabama and the other teams in the SEC can run. Notre Dame cannot.
Alabama plays in a conference with the toughest schedule in the land and a championship game versus a top ten squad.
Notre Dame doesn’t even have a conference. They believe it’s 1937.
Both teams get a lot of media hype and attention. One can back it up.
If you watched the coverage leading up to the game Lou Holtz and his cohorts were predicting a Notre Dame slaughter. It was laughable. Never mind that Notre Dame played a weak schedule, barely survived against some weak opponents, was slow, and hasn’t been to the Big Show in two decades, and were playing the defending national champs. The media had them ranked #1 and they had heart.
But didn’t you see Rudy? Heart always wins.
That’s what Dr. Lou says.
ROSARIES VERSUS ROADSIDE SIGNS
This game had it all. It was the ultimate Northern school versus Southern school. Two classic programs who’ve added way more titles to their count than records seem to indicate. They have huge national fan bases. It pitted #1 versus #2. The game was to contain dozens of future NFL players led by two big-time coaches.
And it was a fight between Catholics and Southern Baptists.
Yep. Oh I know you heard about the “Catholics versus Cousins” t-shirts and all that, but what this really pitted was fandoms of the two biggest denominations on Sunday rooting for their respective congregants for their Saturday religion.
I have a feeling this is how it went down. Throughout Catholic America Notre Dame had quite a few prayer candles lit on the weeks leading up to the game, while in Southern Baptist pews Jesus was asked to work a few miracles for A.J. McCarren (and no by Jesus I don’t mean Tim Tebow). This game pitted intercession versus direct line Christianity.
I went to Catholic High School. I went to college in the SEC. I’m certain this is how it went down. It must have really been hard for Alabama Catholics….having to choose one religion over the other. Either way you choose you’re damned.
But remember folks, Jesus doesn’t care who wins the Super Bowl or the BCS championship for that matter. But that doesn’t stop you from praying.
RUDY KIND OF SUCKS AT FOOTBALL
Then there was the game itself. I had loudly predicted all week to all that would listen (and to others that had to listen anyway) that Alabama and the SEC would win. I reminded folks that Northerners play football while Southerners are fighting a war. I explained that the past six years were no joke. I harangued about Notre Dame’s media hype, lack of conference play, and weak schedule. I predicted an Alabama victory sure as the sun would come up the next day. But even I didn’t predict this much of a butt whooping.
It was a mismatch from the opening kickoff. Like bowls past the size and speed difference of the SEC teams was obvious. So long as conference teams stay disciplined and motivated (unlike say Florida) they tend to win the game. Saban was focused, which meant the team under penalty of death was focused, and the Crimson Tide started rolling.
Notre Dame’s best play was to complain about a couple questionable calls. Yep, that was pretty much it. They couldn’t run more than a couple yards, complete many passes with the exception of their tight end, and even more damning make any tackles. Eddie Lacy ran all over their vaunted defense, and when he got bored with that, they put in T.J. Yeldon and the freshman put up even more numbers. And when Alabama got tired of running they threw a few bombs down the field for touchdowns. The running game, the passing game, the defensive attack, and especially the offensive line were superior in every way.
All we heard about leading up to this game, and indeed all season was Notre Dame’s defense. Well, we stopped hearing about them after five minutes of the game. They never did much if they even showed up at all. Maybe they too were make believe. The biggest hit on A.J. McCarren was from his own center for being kind of a punk. You know That punk with the hot girlfriend.
A STAR IS BORN
Certainly you noticed. Brent Musberger soon noticed. Yep to no surprise to anyone living below the Mason-Dixon the star quarterback was dating Miss Alabama. And being Miss Alabama, or really about any coed down there, Miss Katherine Webb was hot. The amusing thing was Mr. Musberger doesn’t spend too much time on SEC campuses because this type of beauty is in force down there. We count our Miss America titles along with our National Championships (three each for my alma mater).
And so Brent and an obviously equally obsessed cameraman focused on the young Miss Katherine as she struck a pose and seemingly model-pouted through the game. Touchdown….strike a pose. But who can blame them? What else was there to see after the first half? I mean Alabama showed up so thus Notre Dame’s chances were gone. So Brent went on and on and on in a treatise on Southern belles. As I said, no one could blame him. Except the ninnies at ESPN. For some reason sports journalism had moved to the left of Pravda you know in order to be taken seriously. So Brent had to apologize. Seriously.
You know who didn’t mind? … the lady in question. For one thing, Southern women aren’t insulted by polite compliments (not leering)any more than door opening. For another thing judging by subsequent TV appearances a star was born. It’s all about ratings. And in the South our coeds also command bigger ratings.
MORE ACCURATE THAN LOU HOLTZ (MAYBE NOT AS FUNNY)
I suppose all this bored most of America. They were looking for a close game. Perhaps they were looking for the SEC to finally get their comeuppance. But it didn’t happen. It was never going to happen. Heck this wasn’t even the best or fifth best Yankee team to throw in there.
Y’all may have been bored at the lack of drama but that’s because you thought this was a drama. I saw this as a comedy texting to my contact list how very funny this all was. Everyone should have known this was going to be a butt kicking of Marse Robert proportions. But then again not everyone reads this blog. I need ratings. Maybe my Katherine Webb cartoon will help.
I know that it’s been nearly a month since the bowl season, and nearly two months since my last post. I’ve been truant in the blogosphere. Another SEC -dominant bowl whooping went down and your Southern Blogger wasn’t around to detail it.
I had a good reason. I got injured. Playing whiffle ball with my nephew on Christmas. Yep I’m pretty tough. It was nothing too big at first, just a little soreness that turned into a big soreness, which turned into tendonitis. If you’ve never had the pleasure of tendonitis it sucks. I’d rather watch General Sherman eat cheese fries with ranch dressing while singing the Ohio State fight song than have tendonitis. So yeah, it sucks.
Add to that a little carpal tunnel symptoms associated with my injury and it makes it hard to draw and type. But I’m in physical therapy three times a week and trying to manage things. Well, slowly but surely I’ve drawn 14 pictures and have two posts worked up about the bowl season. It’s a bit outdated, and I’m out of practice but here goes…
Rising Again: Every Bowl Season
I love bowl season. It’s like hunting season only the “game” is Yankee running backs. It’s “put up or shut up time” where every year the SEC puts up with anti-South diatribes and accusations of cheating and then pummels the opposition causing them to shut up. And for the seventh straight year we proved once again who the best is.
One of my favorite blogs is Saturdays Down South. On one post a commenter mentioned “some of you guys equate the SEC with the Confederacy”. I think he was talking about me. Every time I see a Big Ten school get pummeled I fist pump like it’s 1863. It’s Gettysburg folks, only this time George Pickett is 6’6” and runs a 4.4 40.
This year we had nine of our fourteen (if you count Missouri) Southern armies/schools going up against the rest. The ESPN types, Oregon homers, Golden Domers, and Ohio State fans sitting on probation said “this year…THIS bowl season” would be different. It wasn’t. It never is.
Even Our Nerds Can Ball
The first game we had NC State versus Vanderbilt. This was clearly an undercard. First of all NC State is a Southern enough school on the right side of the sweet tea line but wrong side of the football is cooler than basketball debate. And they went up against Vanderbilt, not exactly the typical SEC school. They actually go to class…players too. Yeah, hard to believe.
But Vandy has gotten much better of late. They sent the Wolf Pack to the kennels and handed them a beat down. Since it was the Music City Bowl nobody really watched. Sad, because they missed seeing a real up and coming team. Even our nerds can ball.
Not Everyone Got the Memo
But like any great drama there was a bit of a scary moment when it looked like our braggadocio would backfire and I’d have to write a post defending Yankee football. Well…or at least go back to writing about barbecue. Three of our teams lost to non-SEC opponents. They let us down.
The first to backfire was perhaps the most excusable. LSU blew a big lead against Clemson. What makes it excusable is that Clemson is the most SEC-like (along with Florida State) of any non-SEC team. Clemson’s Boyd can throw and run and had experience in big games. Clemson usually wins their bowls and has a fast defense and good play calling.
But LSU had something too…a big lead going into the fourth quarter. Then the lead got smaller. And smaller. And smaller until LSU had the chance to escape with a victory by icing the clock. Cool Les, all you’ve got to do is throw in a few running plays and get a first down and you’re out of there. At worst, you can go three and out and leave a few seconds of the clock.
Well clocks and Les Miles don’t really go together. I don’t think he believes in the same space-time continuum that you and I do. He ran three straight passing plays and no first down. The space-time continuum if you will stopped long enough for Clemson to get the ball back and score.
Then there was Florida. They’re the so-called #3 team in the country. They were going up against Louisville of the Big East. This is like candy from a baby. Only stealing is a penalty and that’s what we found out Florida was good at…penalties.
As in three in a row….personal foul, personal foul, personal foul on the coach. Kind of hard to win when the other team is walking all over the yellow flag carpet into the end zone. Will Muschamp is a hothead and clearly he controls his players no better than his temper. Florida chumped out, embarrassing the SEC and breaking bowl pick ‘em pools everywhere (including mine).
Then came New Year’s Day. The SEC was a shocking 1-2 and people were starting to talk. Then Mississippi State and their no-neck coach down Southeast rolled into town to play the nerdiest school this side of the Commodores…the Theorizing’ Wildcats of Northwestern.
Northwestern hasn’t defeated a bowl opponent since Dewey defeated Truman or rather Truman defeated Dewey in an upset. I guess they were hungry. I guess they figured out an algorithm that forecasted their victory. Or perhaps they consulted the forced with their plastic light sabres or held a séance which guaranteed their offensive prowess. Or maybe…just maybe they figured that Mullen’s mullets were the most overrated team in the country with a baby schedule and hammered them.
I have to say of all the SEC losses that one was the best. I’m of the school of thought that you hold your nose and root for the whole conference…but still as an Ole Miss alumnus, this one was pretty funny.
The problem was, that left the SEC looking bad. All the usual network talking heads were jumping on the idea that this was a bad year for the SEC. But while the bulldogs were getting chased up the tree by the ‘Cats other better teams were taking care of business.
Taking Care of Business
In a well-predicted shootout the Georgia Bulldogs were duking it out with the Nebraska Cornhuskers. On the one hand Georgia could have been feeling a let-down after coming close to a BCS title shot after losing to Alabama. On the other hand, Nebraska is a pretty tough Northern football team with size, speed, good coaching, and NFL prospects.
In Georgia’s favor Mark Richt has a disciplined team. While he blew last year’s bowl he had his team prepared to air it out with the best of them. If you can hang with Alabama, well then you can hang with anybody. Also in their favor was Aaron Murray a pocket style passer with a first round draft selection to Oak-Cleve-land in his not too distant future. While Nebraska could air it out too, they didn’t have the defense that the Dawgs were bringing and the SEC notched it back up.
The Tackle Heard ‘Round the World
Simultaneously the South Carolina Gamecocks were in the ring with the winged helmets of Ann Arbor. We’ve been told that Meecheegan was coming back to their former glory and could hang with the SEC. Well they didn’t really hang very long early in the year when ranked #4 and getting stuffed by the Tide and well they didn’t hang in the end against Sakir Liner.
Funny thing about winged helmets. They can fly. At least when a player wearing one gets bulldozed by Jadeveon Clowney. In the greatest Southern defensive barrage since Fredericksburg Clowney got revenged on Michigan moments after the worst call in NCAA history (not involving Notre Dame). The referee had just called a first down after a fourth down play was stopped. The ball was six inches from the first down line. The chains were clear. Six inches. That was farther than Steve Spurrier’s face was from the ref after screaming and jumping up and down after that dubious pronouncement.
At that point the game was on the line and was the SEC’s bowl dominance. A Michigan win would be a strong blow for Bluecoated football fandom. And then came the next play. BOOM!!! In a split second I saw a Michigan player get flattened and then the ball come out in a fumble. Clowney had bowled over the line, crushed the Michigan running back forcing off the helmet ten feet in the air and then palmed the football. It’s like you’re playing nerf ball with some kid, taking it easy, and then that kid kicks you in a non-cool place to kick you. You catch your breath, get mad and well take the nerf ball from the baby.
It was 3-3
Johnny Bowl Season
The next game was to be a bellwether. In a matchup of former Big 12 foes the Texas A&M Aggies were going up against Bob Stoops (the shortest neck this side of Dan Mullen) and his Oklahoma Sooners. It was supposedly even. ESPN big-time Boomer Sooners said so. Well “shockingly” the folks in Bristol, CT were wrong again.
See Texas A&M had Johnny Football. Johnny Football not only plays quarterback, throws, and runs well, and had won the Heisman…no siree. Johnny Football composed symphonies when he was 6, cornered the stock market, solved the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while riding a unicycle and juggling, has a 7.2 GPA because he teaches his own classes, rescues cats from trees, and children from burning buildings and may in fact be a child of a deity. At least according to the play-by-play men.
Well one thing is for sure, Johnny Football and the Aggies completely gutted the Sooners. The wheels of the wagon fell off. Welcome to the SEC kid. We’re glad to have you.
Yep…Even Ole Miss
Now it was Ole Miss’ turn. Say what you want about us we win our bowl games even if they’re often bowl games no one else watches.
This however is a team on the rise lead by first-year coach Hugh Freeze aka Freezus. Freeze is the Mississippi reared Archie Manning hand-picked replacement for Houston Nutt. He’s a disciplinarian, a father-figure, a good recruiter, and an excellent play caller. In other words he’s the opposite of Houston Nutt.
Ole Miss was playing their own Big East opponent in Pitt but unlike Florida the Rebs didn’t take this game for granted even though this was in Birmingham, AL. While Birmingham has the failed iron industry and empty buildings that make any Pittsburgher homesick it is in fact much closer to Oxford, MS as the sea of red in the crowd showed. A 6-6 team played a 6-6 team but of course one of those 6-6 teams had played Alabama, Texas A&M, Georgia, and LSU.
It wasn’t even close. Sure the Rebs won a BCPM Bumpus Compass Bowl in a broken stadium, in a broken town, in a part of town you don’t want to be broken down in, on the bad ratings time slot of bowl season, with a trophy that looked like pretty bad aluminum modern art. All true. But we won and got to say “S-E-C, S-E-C, S-E-C”. Mississippi State didn’t get to do that.
5-3 with Alabama and Notre Dame to go. The ultimate North vs. South contest.
That’s coming next post. Soon I promise. – SB
As promised I’m here to mock Mizzou for you…er well sort of.
I’m about five weeks late.
The thing is, how do you mock a school you know nothing about? After all, many of my war stories and satire of other fans in the SEC comes from personal experience. We all know each other, we all hate each other, but in the end (and this is VERY grudging with regards to Mississippi State), we all RESPECT each other. I’ve had encounters with just about every type of SEC creature out there. There’s always plenty of material. But…what the heck is a Mizzou?
Yes I know it’s the nickname for the University of Missouri just like Ole Miss is what a non Yankee calls the University of Mississippi. But there’s where the similarities end. I’ve never seen Mizzou in person, never followed the old Big 12 North (or Big Eight before that), spent about 5 hours in St. Louis once, and flew over the state a couple of times. I think I watched them on TV once or twice when inexplicably they had them ranked in the top five and after two or three plays lost interest.
These guys…THESE GUYS are in my beloved SEC. I don’t think so.
NOT WORTHY OF SATIRE
Friends, rather than waste too much southern fried gigabytes on the matter let me just say this. From what I’ve seen of them this past year they are dorks. And I want them out of my league.
Sure, Texas A&M is new as well. Here’s the thing. They’re in the South. Maybe not so much South-EASTERN, but they’re on the right side of the sweet-tea line even if they make barbecue out of cow instead of hog. They have history. They have tradition. They can win a game or two in conference. They even slayed the Tuscaloosa Beast right in Bryant-Denny on their first conference try. They have my attention and they have my respect.
Those other guys? I saw matching school spirit t-shirts, Glee-esque choreography in the student section, Conference USA uniforms, a smallish stadium, trash talk against err…um..Kansas…and although a “border state” a campus a little too close to Iowa for my taste. I don’t like it. No sir.
So why pray tell are they crashing our party? Let me get to the real topic at hand here. An ugly thing called conference realignment.
It’s why I’m forced to write about Missouri.
EVERYBODY REALLY HATES CONFERENCE REALIGNMENT
Tradition. It’s what makes Southern college football special. Between the Hedges, Death Valley, The Grove. War Eagle, Gator Bait, Roll Tide. Bryant, Dooley, Neyland. Manning, Walker. Cannon. We all know what those terms and phrases mean and we don’t like when they get changed up on us. I don’t know about you but I was just starting to get used to Arkansas and South Carolina.
Tradition. It’s what makes college football special in the rest of the country too. Yep, even those blue state conferences have a little history to them whether you like your helmets with wings or mini pot leaf stickers on them. And believe it or not some of those Yankee folks are just as upset at realignment as we are down here.
It has to do with putting teams from the wrong geographic area, wrong culture, and wrong playing style into a conference with a very well established sense of doing things. In other words, it may surprise you to find out that there are indeed different kinds of Yankees. And they often don’t understand or get along with one another.
Why on earth would the Big Ten take on Rutgers and Maryland?
I mean it’s one thing for the Big Ten to fudge some math take on a school or two past the number ten. Penn State was a good fit. Nebraska…pushing it a little, but still understandable. Scarlet Knights and Terps? Not so much. Really awful when you think about. Totally wrong and evil if you care about the Big Ten (or are pretending to for this article in order to make a point about throwing Mizzou out of the SEC).
The Midwest is Bob Seger country. It’s hard-working, plain, earnest, and about 15 years behind the times. It’s putting on your finest pair of sweatpants and ordering up an extra helping of ranch dressing with your cheese fries darn it while apologizing for saying darn it. Rutgers and Maryland…they’re the kids dumping the ranch dressing in your lap, and giving you the finger for causing them to do it, while they’re on their way to grind dance against the chick with big hair.
It’s like Sparty went and got a barbed wire tattoo….nay two barbed wire tattoos.
What makes it worse (just like Mizzou), Rutgers and Maryland don’t add anything to your football skill set. It’s not like the bigger Big Ten schools haven’t already recruited out of those areas. In fact, both schools are likely to be cannon fodder on the gridiron against most of their new conference opponents. Nope it makes no sense. Unless…
Yep…TV markets. Maryland and Rutgers brings the conference New York and DC. Lots of television sets tuned in by folks who forgot that the Redskins and Giants aren’t playing until the next day. In return Rutgers and Maryland get to fill their coffers with TV money and also fill their half empty stadiums with alums from Michigan, Penn State, and THE Ohio State University that churns out thousands of degrees but can’t employ them in state.
So the big name schools get a few more easy “home” games, while the Sopranos extras get a chance to wet their beaks in a more prestigious and lucrative market.
Kind of like having to play Missouri and getting to count it as a conference win.
SO WHOSE FAULT IS THIS?
Short answer: Texas and Notre Dame.
Notre Dame for refusing to join a conference for football. They will be joining the ACC for everything else but football. Because lots of people really want to pay to see Notre Dame golf. Good for you ACC. It’s like you went up to the hottest girl in school, carried her books for her and helped her with her homework. But she’s not gonna go out with you because she’s just not that into you. Notre Dame wants to remain friends ACC.
Notre Dame has their own independent TV deal with NBC, and Notre Dame feels it doesn’t need to bow to any authority this side of Rome. In short, I hate Notre Dame but will spend more time pummeling them when I cover the National Championship game in a few weeks.
Then there’s the Texas Longhorns. We all knew a kid back in kindergarten who never got the concept of sharing. They always hogged the best toys or the sand box and so always ended up playing by themselves. Did you know that kid grew up to be the school president at the University of Texas?
Do y’all remember when the Big 12 had twelve teams? Do you remember when the Big 12 had a championship game which let’s say made it a bit harder for Texas to walk into a BCS game? Remember how Texas didn’t like nor feel the need to participate in such an extra round of football?
That’s because Texas feels that other schools should be honored just to have the privilege of playing in the same conference with them. Their arrogance and refusal to back conference revenue sharing (which is how Vanderbilt stays profitable in the SEC) caused Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, and Texas A&M to seek greener pastures. It got even worse when Texas negotiated their own TV network with ESPN Notre Dame style.
What’s funny is how Texas mocked Texas A&M, predicted their doom in the SEC and lack of relevance without the Longhorns pushing them around. In the end, the Aggies have done quite well, will soon out recruit Texas and will become the destination football school in the state because they play in the prestige conference.
So thanks Texas for giving us the Aggies…
but then again, now we have Missouri.
SO IF WE MUST HAVE CONFERENCE REALIGNMENT…
Okay, I understand why we have to have a little conference shuffling now and then. But why can’t we fix some of the old problems and realign conferences that make better sense culturally and geographically? I used to like the ACC. I grew up in ACC country. And I remember when the ACC game of the week was sponsored by Food Lion and showed local barbecue commercials and car dealer ads with a bit of a twang to them. That WAS the ACC…the South’s other prestige conference. The ACC ruled, still ruled, and will always rule the sport of basketball. Southern Blogger doesn’t like the game of basketball but without a doubt that is their thing. Then they tried to compete with the SEC and put together a prestige football conference. They picked up Miami and Virginia Tech in the hopes of giving Florida State a little thing called competition.
Well a lot has changed since 2 Live Crew was getting banned from nightclubs and Russell Maryland was leading the country in sacks. Miami stinks. They’ve stunk for over a decade now and it looks like due to sanctions it’s going to be that way for a while. Miami to me is like getting a great deal on a 1986 Porsche. You’ve always wanted a Porsche and this one is a real classic. You might even trick it out with some custom Scarface graphics. And then you find that the engine is shot because someone filled the gas tank with cocaine. Got duped again ACC.
Then there is my second school (already covered in detail) Virginia Tech. They have a tendency to win in the ACC most years but can’t finish the bowl game. When your conference gets its butts handed to them in the bowl games it’s a sign that your conference really isn’t that tough to begin with. You know…I just don’t hear fans chanting “A-C-C , A-C-C” at the Chick Fil-A Bowl. You kind of have to win to do that.
But then the ACC decided to lose its roots and embrace Yankeedom full on. It was already bad enough having the University of Connecticut at Durham, they had to go ahead and add Boston College, Syracuse, and Pitt into their ranks. As I once said out loud in Blacksburg “you can take the school out of the Big East but you can’t take the Big East out of the school”. Certainly this helps make the conference nearly impossible to defeat in basketball. But first of all, this blog cares little for basketball, and two no amount of championships is worth doubling your quotient of hair gel in the stands. Don’t listen to Nike…just don’t do it.
But wait they have Notre Dame now….oh right except football. Doh!
So for several years I’ve proposed that the SEC rescue the last remaining unquestionable Southern (and football oriented) schools in the conference; Clemson and Florida State. But every time the SEC had put out feelers to those schools they get rejected. Wouldn’t Clemson and Florida State make sense in the SEC? They have big stadiums, a preference for the Orange Bowl over the Math Bowl, good-looking coeds, good football traditions, and the ability to actually win a game or two.
But that’s just it. A game or two. They really don’t want to risk their cakewalk schedules against Wake Forest and Boston College and replace those games with Georgia and Alabama. And so they drown in a sea of basketballs to save their easy route to the BCS. And I guess considering what happens when these schools play Florida and South Carolina you can’t totally blame them.
Yes I can…it’s another reason why we have Missouri.
SO WHOSE FAULT IS THIS? (BIG PICTURE)
Ultimately we can only blame the real gangsters behind the scenes, the Big conference commissioners. These are the guys who negotiate the big TV deals and levy fines and sanctions against their member schools. These are the guys that ensure that the same five schools seem to curiously keep making it to the end. They are the real powers behind the throne. Nobody really remembers what these guys actually looks like or what their names are (unless you are THAT sidewalk alum that pays $49.99 a month to read recruiting updates) so I will make it easier for you. I visualize the heads of the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, and Pac 12 as Tony Soprano, Boss Hogg, Jimmy Hoffa, and Michael Bay.
Think about it. Do these men care about the consumer…the fans, alumni, and students of their respective institutions? I doubt it. What they care about it’s the increasingly gray area of the professionalization of college sports. I blame these guys for screwing up all the traditions and classic schedules of our regional conferences.
And Notre Dame and Texas too!
And of course now we have Missouri.
WILL IT EVER END?
I think the reality of the last decade or two of college football shows me that this conference realignment is far from over. Who knows how soon it will end? On a positive note, it will likely give us a de facto playoff system with the winners of a few mega-conferences duking it out. But in the end we will be lest with a less Southern SEC, and ACC spreading west of the Atlantic, a less Pacific Pac 12, and a Big Ten that really doesn’t add up. There will be winners and losers in all of this. Certainly one has to blame the SEC office for being the cause of much of this, as well as the other big conferences. They don’t seem to care about the very people who love their product. It’s just going to be too hard to accept some teams in the regular season chase.
The winners will be the big conferences who will get ever-increasing revenue and TV deals and ensure their teams championship success. The losers will be the smaller schools that will have to either drop down a division or drop college football. The poor Big East will be forced to have teams on the West Coast, Gulf Coast, Appalachia, as well as the northeast. Travel costs will soon make this arrangement unprofitable and the conference will go the way of the old Southwest Conference (which Texas also screwed up). Every time they get that twelfth team Charlie Brown style, another conference swoops in and picks up the football.
And that is why we have Missouri.
We’ll cover more familiar football topic in the next few weeks with my guides to the SEC championship game, and of course the showdown between Alabama and Notre Dame aka Revenge for Gettysburg.
- Southern Blogger
What do you bring people who are sick and tired of hearing about politics? Why more politics! Suck it up people, everything is politics. And on this night when we are all setting around the TV and computer waiting to hear the results so we can either gloat to our misguided friends and family or go into hiding for three days (kind of like SEC football), we should all sit back and take things easy. I mean you think OUR time period has dirty campaigning and political ads? Well you ain’t seen nothing until you’ve run for office in 19th century Tennessee. That was a time of politicking.
Which got me to thinking…wasn’t Andrew Jackson promised another guest blogging shot? I think he was and I for one am not one to go around angering Old Hickory. The big cable news channels and regular networks will bring you the pontificating of various strategists, reporters, and commentators, but no one else will bring you the inside look at the political trail from the perspective of our seventh president.
So without further ado I hand over the blogging duties to our good friend President Andrew Jackson…
- Southern Blogger
Thank you Southern Blogger,
It’s good to be back. Not many 19th century former presidents have done took to the inter nets but I’ve been a proponent of blogging for some time now. See folks like ol’ John Quincy Adams like to talk about how smart they are and such just cause their daddies get on HBO and they make a guest appearance on a Spielberg picture show, but that’s a load of week old turnip greens. It ain’t right and it just smells funny.
Well I’m back now by popular acclaim. I always was the man of the people, and I was so popular the last time I done blogged, the people spoke and here I am on this here world wide web. I’ve been following the campaign for president y’all got going on and I am very unimpressed with these here candidates. I mean do either of ‘em know how shoot a pea off of a skunks behind at twenty paces? Any of ‘em ever take a state from a f’urin power just with an ornery look, a rusty cannon, and a loaded Colt? Any of ‘em ever saved New Orleans? I figure they could lose it. Can they even run a non sissy britches, raw hide, whiskey bent hell fire and damnation of a political campaign? I thought not.
Well, here we are then. I’m here to tell all you future candidates for high office, whether president of these States United or Knox County log cabin inspector of them intricacies and aggravations of a political candidacy. If you take to heart my easy to follow advice, you too will soon be closing down no good stock jobbing banks and runnin’ them redcoats out of our continent.
STEP ONE: GENERATE TURNOUT
Now friends, this one should be easy. If you can’t get people to come out and vote for you, then well you ain’t gonna win no office. A horse can’t be no thoroughbred if them other horses say it’s a mule. And that’s that.
But the question then is, well then how do you get people to come out and vote for you? Well, this is where people in your time just have it plum wrong. And I mean as wrong as Henry Clay singing during a sponge bath. That kind of wrong. I’ve been to your polling places. I’m even registered as a Jacksonian Democrat. But I got to tell you, you get nothing for going to the polls these days. Well a little sticker patch that says you done voted. That and some dern fools trying to hand you ballots already filled in with the people you ain’t even gonna vote fer.
In my day we had a sure fire way to get out the voters. Libations. I mean brandy, wine, port, whiskey, punch, ale, and even lager beer fer them German immigrants. Electoring was a party and if you didn’t have the right stuff on hand, you didn’t win. I’m telling you even the Father of this here country George Washington lost his first election because he didn’t bring him some hooch. America was founded on liquor, smuggling it, not paying taxes on it, and writing Constitutions on it. You can look it up…well not in them sissy britch textbooks you can’t.
STEP TWO: GET THE UNDECIDED VOTERS
Now this here is considered great political wisdom today. If you hadn’t noticed some pretty poor canards passes for wisdom these days when it comes to politics. Of course you want to get them undecideds. Everybody knows your kin, your kin’s kin, your kin in laws, and your friends that are such friends they is nearly kin are gonna vote for you. And of course you know that them other feller’s no good kin, and varmit friends is gonna vote for his side. So you need to get them other people. The problem was (and is) in Tennessee that that leaves only about twenty or thirty people left to go out and get.
They is the worst people let me tell you. Them people that can’t make up their minds. Do they want gravy or molasses on their biscuits? These are them folks that wants both. But you can’t have both. That would be bipartisan and that’s disgusting. It’s like I always said “that might be something a hog would eat, but I ain’t got to swaller it”.
So I had a tried and true method to get them extra votes. I used my old hickory cane. Now any proper gentleman’s got to have him a cane. I noticed these here Senate folks today ain’t got no time fer it. Well then, I’d just love to be in the Senate today, because I’d have one and then I could do some persuading.
If you are denser than John C. Calhoun after his hanging and don’t catch my meaning I feel sorry fer you. It’s pretty durn simple. Use your persuasion stick to help jump start their noggins. Either they see the error of their ways or they won’t find themselves to the polls. Either way, you got yourself the undecided vote.
STEP THREE: DEAL WITH NEGATIVE ADS
Now this here one really gets my goat. Them simple no good sons of a guns that run then no account attack hand bills in the newspapers and then hide behind their campaigns, or better yet trees (when the time comes to make amends). This of course is a word y’all all know and understand…. poltroonery. I done hate poltroons. I hate poltroons like nothing else in the world. Them feckless, hyena breathing, tea sippin’, bullet duckin’, treaty makin’, Harvard goin’, willy whistlin’, Brit bungling’, stock jobbin’, bank bringin’ cowardly fools.
Now I’ve dealt with my share of attack ads. I remember this here one from one of my first presidential bids. Cost me the election. A cabal of poltroonish partners named Clay and Adams got together and found some scribes to print up this little ditty. You see it? They done printed a picture of me whoopin’ on some rascal (that deserved it) as if it were some kind of crime, and then had the gall to put a bunch of coffins on top of the page of all them men I supposedly assassinated.
Can you believe that? The whole thing were a bunch of damn lies! Everybody knows I killed more than six. You see my point? If the good people of Tennessee thought I only won six duels in my lifetime I’d have never gotten past county attorney. Six! That is an insult!
But here’s the point. Learn you some code duello and find you a trusty second and you will soon put an end to them political attacks. Shoot, you’d even have them “print-troons” working for you they’d be so scared. That’s called rising above the fray.
STEP FOUR: STICK TO YOUR MESSAGE
The real reason people done hate politicians is because too many of them make a bunch of promises and then get to Washington and get all cozy with them good fer nothing lobster mongering Federalists. They done ferget about Kentucky and their Western roots and settle in with the Adams crowd. They think because they get to be big ole senators that they don’t have to bring home the bacon (literally…in my time you actually had to bring home several pounds of bacon to your district). I’m talking about you Henry Clay! You name the time and place. We can have us an “interview”!
But back to my point….Henry Clay is the Bonaparte of Poltroonery. His ambition hath no bounds but he will run hiself up the wrong tree. Me…well I always stuck to my message. It was pretty simple….death to poltroons, an end to all banks, a big middle finger to them redcoats, and whiskey and cheese for all Americans.
You can call me corny, you can call me old fashioned…and you can call me a two term president!
STEP FIVE: BE GRACIOUS NO MATTER WHAT
Now friends, sometimes it can be easy to win an election and gloat over the misfortune of your opponent. But that wouldn’t be gracious now would it? The Good Book says we are supposed to get along with our enemies and turn our cheeks and all that. And who am I to disagree? I was always gracious to my defeated opponents. I even paid for a few of their funerals.
This of course applies only to worthy foes. It don’t apply to poltroons that make up nefarious stories about your wife or who undercount your dueling prowess or who are named Clay. For those people there ain’t no cheek turning. For those people win or lose it’s best for them to get out of town.
Did you ever hear what John Quincy Adams said at my inauguration? Of course you didn’t because that rascal didn’t stick around long enough to hear it. Although he missed out on some grade A cheese block, he was pretty smart in the end I guess. He figured I was none too happy about the fact that his campaign put my poor Rachel in her grave. And I suppose he had enough brains to know he wanted to keep his brains. All I’m saying is he knew enough math to figure out the quickest coach from Washington city to New England.
And I was gracious enough to let him have a head start. Sometimes I think I’m getting too soft in old age.
Your Humble Obedient Servant,
- A. Jackson
Sorry I’ve been remiss in my postings as of late. I kind of picked up this bad habit lately called working. You see, when I first began this blog I was “under” employed. So I had plenty of time to cartoon and satire to my heart’s content. Now I’m nearing the sixth month anniversary of my new job and I’ve been quite busy receiving congratulatory calls, texts, and emails. Or rather, I’m just receiving a lot of calls, texts, and emails asking me to do stuff. The nerve right?
Nevertheless, my site stats have begun to climb on auto-pilot, being that this is now college football season. So, I had to give the people what they want. We all know that 75% of Southern culture is SEC football, 10% is the Civil War, 10% beauty pageants, and 5% bourbon. So SEC football it is to start the new season of blogging.
But then I had another problem; writer’s block. Haven’t I already blogged all my SEC stories? After all I’m one of the few Ole Miss alums who graduated in less than five years, so I don’t have but so many football stories. But then a friend reminded me that I often go on rants about how other schools, conferences, and game day experiences fail to live up to the SEC. And there you have it…perfect topic. And while some of my closer friends reading this will have heard these stories before, that’s true of about everything I’ve blogged about. At least this time there’ll be new cartoons.
And that was the other problem; Cartoonist’s block. You really can get out of practice with cartooning. But, once the first one was completed, the mental storyboard kicked in and this post took off. So without further ado, here’s my rant about how my other college football experiences have never lived up to my SEC ones.
For those of you new to this site, I didn’t grow up in SEC country. I’m a native of Virginia. So while my birthplace is not as football crazy as points south, it does make me 64% more likely to be president and 78% more likely to win a Civil War battle. That is to say, every Southern state is known for something. But the “southern” portion of my state is rapidly shrinking. Our universities seem like Big East schools (more on that later), and even the “in-state” kids can seem like they’re from out of state. And while I grew up safely entrenched along the south bank of the James River my region of the state is in the minority. So I fled to Mississippi.
You can read in several of my earlier posts how my time at Ole Miss shaped my identity. It especially shaped how I view the Saturday religion of SEC football. And like all things religious in the South, we tend to be evangelical, devout, and rather fundamentalist. Lukewarm college football gets spit out of our mouths. It was in the Bible I think… Bryant 14:5.
So fast forward a decade. I’ve been back in Virginia for awhile actually working in my major. For advancement in my field of work it became necessary to obtain a Master’s Degree. It made financial and professional sense to stay in state. In other words…it was free. And I wanted to get my degree as quick as possible. So I ended up at Virginia Tech.
Well that won’t be so bad right? That’s a football school. “You’re going to love it!” everyone tells me. Just wait until I see my first tailgate and game and it’ll be just like my SEC days…
Now don’t misunderstand me. I made some great friends at VA Tech. And indeed it has advanced me professionally as promised. The team was okay but…the football culture was rather lacking. Not their fault. They just don’t know no better.
I tried my friends. I really did try. I bought some Hokie paraphernalia and decided to give ACC football a shot. I even got season tickets and toned down my game day wardrobe a bit…you know the casual polo and khakis look of a successful land grant student.
Well when I entered my first tailgate I saw a shocking site. I believe I said something out loud to the effect of “well you can take the school out of the Big East but you can’t take the Big East out of the school”. Backwards caps, “alternate” Oregon style jerseys peddled by Nike, a sea of cargo shorts where there should be sundresses, and lots and lots of cornhole. Where I come from (collegiately speaking) the only time you should be watching cornhole is if you get sent to Parchman.
I guess I just never got used to the idea of tailgating on asphalt.
But then I realized It’s not really them, it’s me. See it began to dawn on me that the college football culture that I experienced as “normal” was actually very unusual, and that what I was witnessing in the parking lot was the norm for 95% of the country. So, I took that to heart, realized people were just having a good time supporting their school, and then I took a deep breath and decided they were all wrong!
But wait…I haven’t gotten to the game yet. The first game was against Marshall. I don’t remember much of it. I know they kept blaring a turkey call, and two dudes in front of me were “celebrating” with miniature shots of Wild Turkey from miniature airline bottles. And they were doing so in a way that I think is still illegal in Montgomery County, VA. But I wanted to give it a chance and I stayed until the bitter end of the 3rd quarter when the crowd did the Hokey Pokey. Then I left. The ACC was foreign.
I went back to two more games to at least see the in conference opponents. Maybe that would get better. The UNC game was better, I think because I got along with the UNC fans very well. Then there came the NC State game. That was a dilemma let me tell you. Ole Miss was not awful yet. In fact, that was a Cotton Bowl season for us. Yeah yeah, go ahead and laugh Bama fans, but to us, the Cotton Bowl is our version of the BCS championship…or at least as close as we’re going to get. I had a bet going with my LSU friend (and what does that tell you about the state of the ACC fan base that my best friend at grad school had gone to LSU?), and it was the CBS game of the week at 4 O’ clock.
Meanwhile in Blacksburg I had my ticket to the Wolfpack-Hokie matchup. I wore my Ole Miss t-shirt under my Virginia Tech fleece and headed to the stadium. Along the way I had a chance encounter with a fellow Ole Miss alum. We did the Hotty Toddy cheer and we’ve remained friends since. So one positive…
But still but the time the game starts in Hokie-land I swear the whole time I’m watching the scoreboard for the Rebel-Tiger score. I think they gave two updates. The first update it was announced as zero-zero. In the meantime I had to listen to Hipster Northern Virginia Hokie kids trash talking clueless computer geeky NC State kids. I wanted to plug my ears and sing the “Ballad of Archie Who” but it wasn’t going to work. There would still be an ACC game on the field and an ACC student section surrounding me. When the second score update was finally announced Ole Miss held a slight lead at halftime.
That was enough for me. Surely Ole Miss would blow this lead and I would lose my bet if I didn’t rush home to watch the game in person on TV. Now, normally I’d never leave a game at halftime. The 4th quarter is my earliest, and only if there is a blowout. But this was different. This was life and death. This was the SEC on CBS. I exited to the gates. The nice lady reminded me that I wouldn’t be allowed to re-enter. I replied “that’s okay; I’ve got a real game to see”. I quickly unzipped my maroon jacket, and proudly displayed the shirt emblazoned with the name of my true love and sprinted home.
And I made it in time to see the 4th quarter. Ole Miss barely held onto the game, but not before nearly tearing my heart out, causing me to shout obscenities that would make a sailor cover his ears, and make several bargains with my maker. And thanks to Les Miles not understanding the concept of time….we won. About a minute passed. The minute that Ole Miss fans expect the referee to reverse a call to cheat us (see whenever we play Alabama close), or for Vern Lunquist to yell “PSYCHE!!!!” But no, we really won! And I went outside the house, right when all the ACC faithful were walking and driving home from their mundane game that had mercifully ended, and I yelled, and jumped, and danced, and screamed, and yelled filled with the spirit of Johnny Vaught.
The next day I sold the rest of my tickets to fund a trip to Oxford, MS. Four games were worth the price of one. Even though the game I attended in Mississippi was a loss, and I was told upon my return that I missed an exciting beat down of Boston College, I really didn’t miss anything. They missed it.
As another LSU friend of mine says “a bad game in the SEC beats the best game anywhere else”. See, different denomination, but same religion.
But that’s just the ACC. What about a football powerhouse conference?
Lemme guess? The Big Ten?
Let me tell you about the Big Ten folks. Not the same. Nope. Been there, done that…twice even. That’s enough evidence.
The first time was when I went to a Penn State-Iowa game in 2003. Now, I always knew something was wrong with that school and in the end it was the cult like mentality of the place…
“Now wait a minute Southern Blogger” you’re saying….isn’t the SEC a cult? No, we are the true religion. See, we choose to be fans and students of our SEC schools and when they don’t live up to expectations someone pays. Like a bad minister we will send an inadequate coach packing as quickly as you can say Houston Nutt. And we boo our own teams. The girls boo too. Heck, they’re the meanest ones. Our school cheers are complex, and we also have the complexity to dress ourselves without the aid of the student body president. The “white out” nonsense, “we are Penn State” banal cheer, and inability to criticize team and coach when they gave up an easy game to an easy opponent was lame to say the least. But the worst of all was the pre-game announcement that “Beaver Stadium is a smoke free, alcohol-free environment, and we thank you for your cooperation.” No sarcastic cheers from the student section, no boos… (No booze?) and no middle fingers of youthful defiance. Just pre-approved cheers, school-approved signs, and school-sponsored team spirit. No thank you. Not impressed.
And then there was the famous time I infiltrated the University of Michigan. Now that was a lot more fun. Mainly because I decided to dress up in costume to infiltrate Midwestern football. I came as a Gerald Ford era Michigan Wolverine. In fact, I dare say my Midwestern costume was more Midwestern than the other Midwesterners. In true Globe Trekker fashion I went “native” and did what the locals did including: participating in a Climate Change Awareness Rally, spinning a post-modern Art cube, playing beer pong without beer (that was the oddest thing of all), learning their fight song, playing nerf football with strangers while making Heisman poses, and eating copious amounts of cheese fries with ranch dressing. Perfect infiltration. Except for one problem.
During my munching of the cheese-ranch fries at the bar, a friend of my friend, a hardcore Wolverine got into a conversation about the “overrated SEC”. The apostasy included rants about the “unfairness of playing bowl games in warm states, the easy non conference opponents the SEC faces, the quality of Big Ten NFL draft picks, media bias…yada yada”. And then, in full costume, in the middle of Ann Arbor, after all my successful infiltration…I blew my cover and went full on cheese fry to cheese fry Preston Brooks mode calling out Yankee lies. I couldn’t help myself.
By the end of the evening I was in a room of people who were watching the Minnesota Michigan State Iowa Purdue Indiana game. Or something like that. I couldn’t tell. What I could tell was these foreigners were watching a crappy game and cheering loudly when a real SEC game was on on CBS. It was awful, just awful. So I did what any good Southerner would do in the midst of a pagan ritual. I began preaching.
I began sharing about the promised land of Southern girls in pearls and sundresses, the smell of fried chicken, fall leaves and bourbon, the utter hatred you have for anyone else in the visiting student section, the rules of said combat, the battle scars, the joys, the defeats, the best damn football conference in the land. Amen and Amen.
In the end there’s only one school for me. You grad school can give you a nice resume and an extra diploma on the wall but it is not, nor can it ever be your alma mater.
I know which one mine is. Hell yes, damn right! You finish the rest…
NEXT TIME: I will show the Show-Me state how to properly behave in their new neighborhood. So long as we’re stuck with them. I’ll try not to be so late this time.
So I’ve been meaning to get this little blog post out about a week ago. Thing is life, errrr…rather work has a way of interfering with Southern fried blogging, so it took me awhile to finish up this batch of cartoons.
The one good thing about keeping busy, especially at a job where I interact with folks from all over the place is that it helps inspire new stories, or in an especially bad week filled with difficult people, forces me to reminisce about good times (some might call it a coping mechanism but that phrase sounds kind of Yankeeish to me). All I know is there was a song once that mentioned something about “old times” being “not forgotten”. I’m sure y’all know the tune.
So back and forth in my brain between bouts of stress and briefs moments of relaxation I developed this piece. Originally it was going to be a treatise on blue laws, the complex and contradictory nature of the politics of morality, and so forth but then the ghost of Lewis Grizzard told me…”son, it’s really just about finding cold beer on Sunday”.
And so it is…
According to the Sheriff’s department, Lafayette (Luh-FAY-It) County, Mississippi is a dry county. At least that’s what the signs always said. And certainly in a state where you often hear the phrase “the law is the law”, you’d expect folks to follow it to a “T”. Yup, judging by the beer cans and broken whiskey bottles strewn by the sign, a rickety post holding up a well used shotgun target, I guess you could say that people vote with their litter.
The signs are there for good reason. That is, you’ve been fairly warned. What Lafayette County is trying to tell you is that they’ve decided that it’s more profitable to bust you for alcohol than to sell it to you.
Now, it’s not that it’s illegal to take a sip or two in the county. They just figured if you couldn’t buy it there then you’d have to cross into another county to get it, then you’d probably not wait to get home, then flying down the highway, having emptied your bottles just you could pitch them against the Lafayette County sign while your buddy literally rides shotgun, and well fish are much easier to shoot in barrels. In other words, as Roscoe P. Coletrane would say “Cuff ‘em and Stuff ‘em.”
Navigating your way through the liquor laws in the various Mississippi counties nearly took an advanced degree in international relations. I guess that must be why Ole Miss started an international relations program when I was down there, just so folks could understand where to buy cold beer.
Lafayette County was even more complicated than most counties. Because it was home to the University of Mississippi it had a more truncated set of rules. I even think these were thoroughly explained during new student orientation. At least that was the part I paid attention to. Oxford was a “wet” town in a dry county. College towns were allowed to be dens of iniquity. But there was a catch. If you wanted to buy beer at a convenience or grocery store you had to pick up your cases and six packs off of the shelf. They were not allowed to be sold cold. You had to go home and chill them. This was of course to thwart college kids from drinking cases of beer in the store itself and running amuck. The town fathers had a good sense of how to prevent vice after all. Oh yeah…and not on Sundays. That was never mentioned anywhere on a store’s sign, because you were just supposed to know. Unless you were from Arkansas (more on that later).
So let’s say you are an Ole Miss student. You have money burning a hole in your pocket, you’re thirsty, and you want some beer. Only it’s Sunday and you know the county leaders have already figured out that you’re too stupid to just buy beer ahead of time (actually they were right about that). Let’s say you’re not even legally allowed to buy hoppy suds in these United States. Checkmate right?
Not so fast. Remember SOME Mississippi counties made their yearly revenue through enforcing morality. This then requires OTHER Mississippi counties to make their yearly revenue selling you into depravity. And thankfully Panola County was right next door.
There’s not much in Panola County until you get to Interstate 55. And even then really it’s just a pothole- filled ride on the way north to Memphis. Yet back in my day there was a place called Rick’s. There’s a line in Casablanca where one of the characters mentions “everyone comes to Rick’s”. In the film, Rick’s is Bogie’s character’s oasis of a bar during Nazi occupied Morocco in WWII. Our Rick’s while a little bit different was also an oasis.
The Rick’s everybody came to in our neck of the woods was a run-down gas station/ convenience store maybe two or three inches over the county line. I’m not kidding. It was clear even to the much younger and less world travelled me back then, that Rick’s sole purpose in life was to sell cold beer on Sunday to Ole Miss students. That’s because there was a giant sign that read “Cold Beer…Sundays” next to a Colonel Reb sign that read “Ole Miss students welcome”.
The other thing that was funny was that there was nothing within ten miles of Rick’s other than cotton fields. And, if you drove past Rick’s on any other day of the week, it was empty. On Sundays it was packed with SUVs and pickups with fraternity tags and Ole Miss parking stickers. Rick was a hell of an advertiser after all. He knew his target market.
The funniest part about Rick’s place was what you saw after you walked in. There was nothing, and I mean nothing, blocking the wide path from the entrance to the giant beer cooler. To the right and left were chips, candy, toiletries and other items that were covered in dust. I guess Rick wasn’t too concerned with people figuring out his front operation. He also had another saying that quickly made the rounds of campus (also probably in new student orientation), “if you can walk, you can buy”. No questions asked. And he even had Polaroids of people getting their picture taken there with him. Rick was a hero! Well…more like a hero to the corruptible deputies who wanted to supplement their income.
The law is the law. Students will be Students. Money is Money.
Just take it easy crossing back in Lafayette County.
On a regular weekday however you didn’t have to go over to Rick’s. He was probably closed anyway (I never could tell). So the place to go was the Rebel Barn. It kind of had a “if you can drive you can buy policy” if the right people were working. And if your Hawaiian ID said “McLovin” that was all gravy. It was kind of a nice ritual to go there after class on Friday or instead of class on Friday and stock up for game day or just the weekend in general.
Then there was that one special Christmas of 1996. Well not so much Christmas but Christmas Ale. And it wasn’t even Christmas but January 1997 after we got back from break. It rarely gets down to freezing for any long period of time in North Mississippi, but I remember it being quite chilly. The cases of beer in the Rebel barn were about to freeze and become wasted. The stoner dude who worked that day, who was known to be lax on the rules, mentioned to us that they had to unload cases of 1996 Abita Christmas Ale and that they were on sale for $4 a case. Yup, $4 a case for Abita…and by the way Abita is a very good Louisiana swill.
So needless to say we got ourselves a huge stockpile of Abita Christmas Ale. I think it took months to get through and we even had our TV sitting on top of some cases. The getting it there was the hard part. You had to lug beer several six packs at a time up to your dorm room.
Of course, you had to hide this from the petite authority of the dorm R.A.s But this could be achieved by placing the six packs in your book bag. Clearly we were all attending the university to study and were returning from the library. I think our Abita Christmas Ale took about 50 trips to the “library”. I do remember one visiting parent remarking about “how studious we were”. Smart aleck kid that I was I probably thought he didn’t get it. Now I’m thinking he was probably an alum himself and knew what we were doing. After all library books don’t make clinking sounds.
There was a whole ritual to getting beer my first couple of years. Learning the laws, learning the REAL laws, learning about Ricks, learning how to properly pack a book bag, and then learning how to chill them quickly in the micro-fridge (you didn’t think micro-fridges were used for milk and butter did you?)
After I turned 21 and the thrill of the chase was transformed into a mundane walk into any grocery store or mart when the mood struck, the blue laws didn’t really affect me much. I had gotten used to them, and not having buying beer on Sunday wasn’t a big deal, nor was even buying or drinking beer even a big deal. I’d honestly forgotten about the “No Sunday beer” rule.
Then one day while I was getting gas I saw a rickety late 70s Camaro pull in. It had Arkansas tags and the man that got out of the car clearly went with it. He had a dirty ball cap, long hair and a beard, torn jeans, and a t-shirt and shoes on that were clearly being worn because they were required to purchase in this particular establishment.
Seconds later he angrily emerged from the store and then spoke to me. Why people like this always come up and speak to me, I don’t know, but thankfully they make such great material. He asked “HEY MAN! HOW COME THEY WON’T SELL ME NO BEER!” I paused, remembered what day it was and then told him that in Oxford they don’t sell beer on Sundays but that there’s no sign, you’re just supposed to know. Then he calmed down and replied “Oh, I just thought it was because I was from Arkansas.”
You can’t make this stuff up.
In any case, I sent him to Rick’s. It’s on the way to Arkansas.
It’s been several months since my last post on The South Will Blog Again. You’ll have to forgive me for my absence. I went and found a full-time job. Funny thing about blogging…you have a whole lot more time to do it when you don’t have much else to do. So in any case, it’s been about ten weeks on the new job and I’m pretty settled in. I do have less time to draw cartoons so I’ll be posting most likely only once or twice a month instead of weekly.
Nevertheless, I have resolved that the South will indeed blog again. In any event with new co-workers, many of whom are “sectionally challenged” (from the North that is), I have had a new batch of people to tell my Mississippi stories to. And that reminded me of this blog and that I have a worldwide forum for them.
So this will be the first part in a three part series based on my observations about life in that misunderstood state of Mississippi. I was both an outsider and an insider there. I wasn’t born in Mississippi, but long time blog followers will know I was schooled there. And by “education” I really mean in the art of storytelling, cuisine, blues music, flasking it, and SEC football…you know all the important things in life. Along the way I learned to see the charm in the little quirks that tend to annoy those from the outside, especially from those states that have lots of snow, traffic, and frowning people.
Of all the things that tend to annoy first-time visitors, especially from up-North, is how %@#$ slow things are in Mississippi. And in my little way, I’m here to explain how it all works. So sit back and enjoy the story and cartoons, and forgive my little mistakes, I am after all, a bit out of practice.
- Southern Blogger
It Takes Time to Spin (a) Yarn
People in Mississippi love to talk. And perhaps that’s why I fit in so well down there. I love to talk…I mean seriously I can talk and talk and talk and talk. I even get paid to talk hours on end. One of the nice things about Mississippi is that people take the time to speak to one another, swap stories, tell lies, and then tell some %$#@ lies on top of that. In fact, its the most story-telling place in the whole country. More writers and musicians come from that state per capita than anywhere else. Mainly because there’s not much else to do, and as I’ve blogged before, Yankees will pay you a whole lot of money to make up crazy stuff as long as you throw in some moonlight, magnolias, and talking fish (see Faulkner, William).
Now where was I? Oh yes getting side tracked talking too much about people who talk too much.
In any case, one of the keys to social success in the Magnolia State is learning how to navigate the world of conversation. You run into it right away when you get off the highway and come to a Mississippi Welcome Center. In my personal experience nearly all welcome centers in the state are staffed by older ladies with big hair who offer you fountain Coke or coffee, and have a wall sized portrait of Elvis.
My last visit was in 2010. I crossed into the state from Alabama and went right up to the counter for my free Coke and conversation. Sure enough an older lady with big hair welcomed me. The first thing you might hear will be “welcome to such and such county, Mississippi”. Certainly the second question will be “where are you from?” This question can certainly be answered incorrectly. Depending on how well (or poorly you answer) you will be asked about how long you plan to stay. It’s sort of like customs.
In my case I said “Virginia” (usually good), “South of Richmond” (better), “I went to Ole Miss” (great unless its a State fan), and “I really love Mississippi, it’s a second home”. To which I was simply told “welcome home”. So I passed. I also got two more refills and ended up hearing the lady’s life story, discussed football season, and heard about the crazy local radio preacher that comes in once a week (yes to the visitor center in his own town).
Now either you get that ritual or you don’t. But in case you are unenlightened I just passed a test. No doubt my license plate was called in and various sheriff’s deputies, hotel staff, waitresses, and storekeepers were alerted that I was “good people”. They are networked like that.
That’s because I took the time to not be in a hurry. Just imagine answering those questions wrong and then being in a hurry to get through the welcome center. Yep…you’re getting pulled over son.
These are the conversation rituals, and when business is occurring, even when business doesn’t seem to be occurring you are being sized up.
Way back in school, for my senior research paper I had to interview someone important to my topic. Before I could do the interview in person I had a phone interview (which had the “where are you from” question). After driving to the man’s home, I had to meet his Mrs. who served me a plate of Mississippi mud pie (which is fantastic), compliment her, refuse seconds, then take seconds, and further compliment her, followed by the man of the house discussing college football, then high school football, then more college football (in that order) before proceeding to business. I got the interview and an A on that paper.
Slow down…sit a spell…pay attention to the conversation. Keys to survival.
Well…That’s Just Earl
See friends, some people are never gonna get what I just said. They are usually in a hurry and won’t slow down for nothing. And they’re even the type of folks that would try to correct the double negative I just wrote. These folks are called Yankees. Now I mean no offense, it’s just the way they are. When you go to the North, people are walking real fast, like their pants are on fire. They have to walk fast to catch public transportation, to get to their corporate offices, or to get to their cars real fast so they can sit on the highway real slow. Yep that’s pretty much the entire North. You don’t have to go there just take my word for it. When have I ever exaggerated on here? In any case if you are really curious just go to Atlanta. It’s kind of the same thing.
Now as for Yankees in a hurry. Don’t be in Mississippi. Repeat. Don’t be. You can’t do it. What I mean is this…either you are going to be driving along real fast in the back county and get pulled over for driving over 56 in a 55 zone with the wrong state’s license plate…or you’ll run into “Earl”.
Who’s Earl? Well “Earl” (don’t forget the quotation marks) is every guy I’ve ever seen in a broken down pickup truck along the highway. Usually “Earl’s” truck will have more colors on it than a rainbow…that is if a rainbow was seven shades of rust. “Earl” might be missing things on his truck that in other state’s would be needed for inspection…such as working brakes, an accelerator, or a license plate. But the funny thing about “Earl” is this. You can bet he will be going 40 miles under the speed limit, and you can also bet that nobody is gonna care. That’s because everybody around there knows “Earl” and they’ve planned their trip around him.
And if you try to pass “Earl” and you aren’t driving an ambulance, well then you are going to see some flashing blue lights in your rear view mirror. (“Earl” won’t because he doesn’t have one). Then you will meet the deputy with the mirrored sunglasses. His name is “Roy”.
So don’t be in a dang hurry. Plus “kid’s is playing”. Understand?
Some Folks Don’t Get it
Still, you can be sure that some people won’t slow down for any reason. Let’s say they get past the welcome center without having a conversation, and even pass “Earl” on the road without getting pulled over by “Roy”. They’re still going to run into slowness. That’s because Yankees at some point will get hungry and have to get food from a chain restaurant. Big mistake.
Everyone from the Deep South knows that our fast food places are the worst in the country. Bar none. Look, we don’t admit to being bad versus the North at a lot of things. Not when it comes to beauty pageants, liquor, hand to hand combat, hunting, fishing, and college football (the important stuff). But we’re real bad at fast food.
See the secret is we are better at sit-down diners, roadside cafes, and barbecue pits. For some reason food service in the South is faster in those places, and the meat cutters, ticket takers, and waitresses still have time to hear your life story and tell you theirs. Yet on the other hand, our fast food establishments will always be super slow and lined up out the door. That’s because Southerners don’t work very hard when they can’t carry a conversation. And chains, which are all headquartered in New York, always write the training manuals wrongly. An obvious exception is the Southern based chain Chick-Fil-A which combines fast food with good ole Southern charm. “My pleasure”.
But back to the point. Every Mississippi town no matter how insignificant has a Dairy Queen. And the DQ will be broken down, and have only one person working the register. That person will also be on drive thru, the fry cook station, the ice cream station, and be the manager. Get the point? It’s not worth it.
Now locals who do end up in the long line ahead of you know it’s going to take a while. And they know they are unlikely to get what they asked for. Just pay, take it, eat it, and remember to go to Smedley’s BBQ next time. But then there’s always one highway Yankee. This person will be instantly spotted. They will have on their Red Sox or Yankees gear, have a ruddy face, and a snide angry look to them. At some point they will sigh and huff and puff about slowness. About ten minutes into their slow burn they will attempt (futilely) to rally the other customers to their side. Then when at the counter they will explode into a full fledged rant with no effect. Southern fast food workers are impervious to this form of criticism as it will not make them work faster. Then the icing on the cake is when the Yankee asks for the manager, realizes that the 19 year old that spilled the cherry sunday on the floor is in fact the manager.
Again, you have been warned.
So there’s science behind this?
Yes, I’m glad you asked. There is in fact a scientific formula to why things in Mississippi run so slow. In has to do with the ratio of Mississippi heat and humidity, times the personality of the person that is in your way, which is quantitated by the amount of bourbon to the second or third power, and then sub divided by the time of day and quantity of fried food the person consumed. It’s all simple arithmetic people.
Seriously…have you ever tried to move fast when it’s 116 degrees? And I’m not even factoring the heat index. You will die within minutes if you try to exert yourself under such conditions. That kind of heat melts asphalt, evaporates tires, and turns all show poodles into hound dogs. It’s got that kind of power. To survive, slow down, find you some shade, sit down, relax, and grab some iced tea or lemonade. At that point you can brush up on your conversation skills.
So in the end it really is a matter of things being too hot to move fast. It’s science…not quite the Gospel…but still…it’s stuff up on the chalkboard.
So is there a way around all this?
Yes sadly there is. You can drive around the state (recommended if you’re gonna be rude about it), have a car faster than “Roy’s” (unlikely), and don’t stop to get gas, food, or pee. Then and only then can you beat the slowness.
Well… then there’s one more method that’s worked for Florida, Atlanta, Northern Virginia, and Charlotte. You can just move there. Someone, I think it was US Grant during the Civil War, figured out that the way to beat the South’s greatest weapon of heat and humidity was through the air conditioner. It’s sort of like the atomic bomb of North-South relations. With air conditioning, Northerners have been able to survive in the South (in their compounds) where they can drive as fast as they want, order fast food, watch hockey, vote liberal, and do all kinds of crazy stuff we in the South don’t understand.
But somehow I think, all the air conditioning in the world won’t get you past the “Big Hair lady”, “Earl” and the manager of the Duck Hill, MS Dairy Queen. At least I don’t hope so
Well, friends it feels good to be back blogging again. Next time check the site out I as discuss part two….all about blue laws (and how to get around them).Read review at this link
- Southern Blogger