With just a couple of minutes remaining on the Cotton Bowl's game clock, the section of Cowboys Stadium to which Ivory Tower and I had migrated during halftime began the increasingly ubiquitous "S-E-C, S-E-C" chant. It wasn't a powerful chant, nor was it long-lived, and nor did Ivory or I vigorously participate in it. I think between the two of us, we might have announced the acronym of our football team's conference five or six times before just letting it go, ceasing our voices and allowing the chant to die a then-seemingly necessary death.
We won a sloppy game against an opponent which played an even sloppier game. It was hard to get too thrilled about the bowl victory, subsequently making it difficult to once again pull the conference superiority card again. But, for me at least, there was more to it.
I think I am becoming a bad SEC fan.
That, of course, relies on the assumption that a good SEC fan actually a) believes in the superiority of the Southeastern Conference above all others and b) becomes a temporary fan of otherwise rival squads during out of conference matchups, especially when these matchups are bowls. On Saturday, neither of those were really the case for this Rebel bloggeur.
Nor was it on Friday. Still a bit nauseated from an eventful New Year's Eve, I sat in Juco's living room with Ivory Tower while sipping on whatever champagne we had left and watching the Outback Bowl. Juco's wife was packing for our Cotton Bowl trip, so we rather expected had a decent bit of time to watch and chat football before hitting the road to Dallas (you've been sexism'd, Cup readers). And, as we watched Northwestern force an overtime and claw tooth-and-nail, getting every lucky break imaginable and playing their absolute hardest, I found myself cheering firmly against the Auburn Tigers. I did not want them to win. I wanted Northwestern to win, bad.
When Auburn won, I felt a bit miffed. Yes, our conference and region defeated "their" conference and region, but I was most definitely sippin' on purple at that moment.
The same thing happened while on the road. As we fiddled through various stations, picking up bits and pieces of the Capitol One Bowl, I found myself rooting for the Nittany Lions. At that point, I had rooted for a Big Ten team to defeat an SEC team twice in the span of a few hours. I was committing some sort of sacrilege, I knew it, but I really didn't give two shits. LSU lost in poetically atypical fashion, I smiled, and then immediately began thinking of ways by which we Rebels were going to tragically lose come January 2nd (it's just part of Ole Miss fandom, you know it).
The Cotton Bowl comes and goes, the Rebels win, we leave Jerry World and, in preparation for the greatest all-ages Rebel shitshow I've seen at the Hilton Anatole, head back to my cousin's digs for some rest, food, and a change of clothes. While there, we pop the Liberty Bowl on, and proceed to once again allow the dirty, warm feeling of schadenfreude inflate our chests. I was legitimately upset when ECU's "kicker" missed three separate field goals in a minute of play--or however exactly that went down. I was, once again, rooting against the SEC.
Now, I imagine you are curious as to how I feel about this upcoming BCS National Championship game. Here too, am I having a difficult time being pro-SEC. While the importance of our continuing perceived dominance of football as both a conference and a region cannot be overstated, I really don't want to cheer for Alabama. I'll cheer for Greg McElroy and Mark Ingram, two football players who seem to me to be fantastic individuals on their own accord. I'll cheer for Nick Saban, a coach who I find impossible to disrespect, despite his somewhat cold, selfish demeanor. I'll even cheer for the South, the region in which I grew up*.
But I can't be certain I'll cheer for Alabama, whatever that means. Thing is, my parents are Longhorns. I like the school and program. I like Mack Brown. I like Colt McCoy. If Texas wins, I'll likely be happy. Of course, I won't be upset if they lose either, but you get what I am saying.
I have not always been this way. I cheered for Florida and LSU during each of their last two BCS National Title games. Of course, they were playing either Oklahoma or Ohio State which did not present me with any sort of "well I kinda like the other team" dilemma. Hell, I even mildly pulled for Mississippi State even when they faced UCF in the 2007 Liberty Bowl. Nor was I this way with other bowl games. I pulled for Georgia, Florida, and Kentucky. I was apathetic towards the Chick Fil A bowl and only mildly embarrassed by the Papajohns.com bowl.
So, to re-submit the question that is the title of this post: am I a bad SEC fan? Is my deliberate and somewhat humbling move away from brash, SEC arrogance the wrong move to make? Am I moving away from the light?
*For the two or three Big Ten or Pac 10 fans who will stumble upon this: no, Texas does not count as a part of the South. Texas is Texas. That's how they would have it said, and that's how must of us would have it said.