Five things I love about the SEC
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Granted, there's not much passion associated with SEC football.
Only joking, of course.
The theme of the day is love and hate, so I figured I'd take a shot at the five things I love about the SEC and the five things I hate about the SEC.
First, let's spread a little love, and then I'll turn hater in a post later on Wednesday:
The aura of the Bear: Bear Bryant has been dead for more than 25 years, but his spirit is alive and well at Alabama. Go to a game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Take a stroll through the Walk of Champions. Hang out in the Quad on football Saturdays. You'll feel it and see it everywhere -- from the sea of houndstooth caps, shirts and purses, to a recording of his voice being played on the JumboTron before the team races onto the field, to the reverent utterances of his name. Bryant remains the face of SEC football.
Tim Tebow's jump pass: You know it's coming. You can almost feel it once Florida gets close to the goal line. In many ways, it's become Tebow's signature play. He takes a step or two toward the line of scrimmage as if he's going to take off and run and then suddenly vaults into the air for a pass. He hit David Nelson for a touchdown on the jump pass in the FedEx BCS National Championship Game win over Oklahoma, and he debuted the play as a freshman in 2006 against LSU when he hit tight end Tate Casey for a touchdown. Fittingly, it was Tebow's first career touchdown pass. He's thrown 66 more since.
The first four notes of "Hold That Tiger": No matter where you are on LSU's campus, you sort of stop in your tracks when you hear those first four notes. It's the LSU band's way of letting you know that Saturday night at Tiger Stadium isn't too far away. Whether you're a die-hard LSU fan or a fan of another team, it's one of those pregame rituals in college football that will give you goosebumps. DAH-DANT-DA-DUM. Or better yet, go to LSUsports.com and click "Touchdown for LSU" (pregame).
Stone-cold defense: No other conference in the country consistently churns out the kind of suffocating defenses the SEC does year in and year out. Maybe that's why the SEC has won four of the last six BCS National Championships. It's been mentioned more than once that defense does indeed win championships. Take a look at the final total defensive numbers nationally from last season. Of the top 35 defenses, 10 of them belonged to SEC clubs. Alabama, Tennessee and Florida were all ranked in the top 10. There's more of that coming in 2009, too, with players like Eric Berry, Brandon Spikes, Rolando McClain, Malcolm Sheppard, Trevard Lindley, Jeff Owens, Jamar Chaney, Antonio Coleman, Greg Hardy, Myron Lewis, Chad Jones and Eric Norwood returning.
Sights and sounds of the Grove: Keep in mind that patience is required in getting there. The speed limit on Ole Miss' campus is just 18 mph (honoring the great Archie Manning). But it's worth the wait. There is no pregame atmosphere anywhere else in the country quite like the Grove. The coeds are stunning, and oftentimes it's difficult to tell the coeds from their mothers. The tailgating and ambiance are so inviting that they make the football game almost seem secondary. But not anymore. Thanks to Houston Nutt, Jevan Snead, Dexter McCluster, Greg Hardy & Co., it's the best of both worlds. Who thinks the 2009 season might be a fun one at Ole Miss?