Thursday, July 31, 2008

Give in to your anger

Studies show the rate of Haterade consumption to be up to 37 percent higher in the SEC over other conferences.

So the boys at ESPN recently decided to celebrate their newfangled bloggitysphere foray with a conference-by-conference examination of capital-H Hate, with Chris Low doing the SEC honors. Won't argue too terrible much with his Hate-o-meter measurements (though how he believes more people hate Ole Miss than Auburn or Arkansas, I'm not sure), but I think Low loses a touch of credibility when he lists LSU-Alabama as a more bitter rivalry than Florida-Tennessee. Sure, the whole Saban-deserts-the-coonasses vs. Miles-loves-crackin'-on-f'ing-Alabama angle is nice and sharp at the moment, but that'll likely wear off in a few seasons and historically there's not a lot of beef there that I'm aware of; meanwhile, the Gators and Vols have been at each other's throats since the day the SEC East was formed and are still more-than-willing to, say, make public high-risk wagers of a personal nature over the outcome. Spurrier will see every one of Miles's 'Bama quotes and still have the room to raise with the classic "Citrus without UT" diss, the single coldest one I can remember coming out of the mouth of an SEC coach.

That's sorta beside the point, though, which was that ESPN's hate-a-thon got people talkin' and that one of those people was Jay, who listed his own top-10 Most Hated and encouraged others to do the same. As it seems like the sort of good pointless fun we have to rely on to pass the slow painful days 'til kickoff and it might be nice to have a second Auburn Blogger perspective, I figure I can give it a whirl:

1. Alabama. Obvs.

2. Alabama. Equally obvs. Honesty would probably require me to list them at 3. and 4. too, at least, but it wouldn't make for terribly interesting reading, so instead we'll go with ...

3. LSU. That Miles's shameless pandering and general crazed Ringmastering has gone over so well on the Bayou says an awful lot, to me, about the wild-eyed, beer-tossin', chest-thumpin' F you nature of much of the Tiger fanbase. That Auburn could have been in Birmingham/Atlanta a half-dozen more times if LSU hadn't stood in the damn way doesn't exactly warm me to them, either.

4. Arkansas. I've much preferred Nutt's brand of crazy to Miles's, but a) a select few of Nutt's Hogs *cough* Tony Bua *cough* were some of the dirtiest SEC players I can remember b) I've seen enough 57-yards-for-a-TD Razorback runs in the midst of a 25-point upset beatdown in Jordan-Hare to last me multiple lifetimes c) Bobby freaking Petrino, man.

5. Florida. Just obnoxious on so many levels.

6. Tennessee. Would qualify for this list on the strength of "Rocky Top" alone.

7. Georgia. I know, I know, they're supposed to be higher up the list--just ask Kyle--but I think of the Oldest Rivalry more as a battle of equals who simply want the respect that comes with beating another good team, rather than an Iron Bowl-style bloodfeud or a pedestal-toppling Gator hunt. Of course, after the last two seasons, I want this year's edition as badly as I want any game that isn't in Tuscaloosa or doesn't have a team in purple on the opposite sideline.

8. Oklahoma. I blame the whole crooked two-holes-three-pegs system for 2004, but that doesn't mean I'll ever forgive the Sooners for snatching victory from defeat what seemed like every damn week that fall, and then laying the king of all eggs against USC. Screw 'em forever.

9. Mississippi St. Would have ranked much higher in the days of Jackie Sherrill, but even with Croom at the helm there's still the matter of those damn cowbells.

10. Ohio St. Not for making the national title game out of the, ahem, quality-challenged Big 10 two years in a row--I'd like to thank them for that, actually, as it's ensured a repeat of 2004 has become much less likely for any SEC team--but for Kirk Herbstreit's attempts to hide his pathetically obvious bias, for and Brent Musberger's willingness to have Laurinaitis's baby, for ESPN's countdown clock to the 2006 OSU-Michigan game ... for just basically the media's panting desire to worship all things Scarlet-and-Gray ever since their absurdly lucky title run in 2002. That might have been the best part about LSU's win last January--Buckeye fever finally seems to have cooled off a bit.

Bear in mind I don't think I work myself into a lather over a given team that isn't the Tide as often as some fans do, so we're talking about a given level of "hate." Even when it comes to LSU, I can readily admit there are tons of good Tiger fans out there or that, for instance, for all of Miles's public silliness happen his decision to throw into the end zone last year was a brilliant one. In short, I'd like to think the "hate" from No. 3 on down this list isn't quite blinding. (I would, of course, give up certain internal organs for an Auburn victory against Nos. 1 and 2. Spleen, schmeen.)

Tomorrow, however, is August. It means it's time to start taking the glorious and long-awaited arrival of college football seriously. And taking it seriously means putting aside our willingness to put aside our differences, and instead find a reason why any team who opposes Auburn this year deserves a loss so humiliating their head coach would call his midnight arrest for indecent exposure in a truck stop bathroom "not so embarrassing, when you think about it." There's 30 days to go. It's time to feel the hate.

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