There's a nasty characteristic, endemic to but not solely the province of the SEC, in which fans of rival schools put that all aside to pull for their conference in big games. This is unacceptable.
We hate to pick on the SEC; but then, no we don't. The same fans of schools across the South who threw their allegiance behind the Crimson Tide last year will now be pulling, in large part, for the Tigers to win the national championship tonight.
It's that famed SEC Pride at work (Here's SECPride.com, for all your SEC Pride needs). The irrational need for your conference to be recognized as the best in the nation, the evidence being bowl wins. Even if it means cheering on a hated rival. From the Birmingham News:
"You should cheer for the SEC and the state's team."
"It makes the SEC look stronger than everybody else."
"You should be rooting for the SEC no matter who is there, because with the Big Ten getting a championship game and the Pac-10 getting a championship game, the national media would just love to say the SEC's not the best."
There it is, that irrational persecution complex that everyone is out to get the conference. No, everyone takes shots at the conference because they tend to do things like this: claiming their rivalries are the most venomous and spirited, and then turning around and rooting for their foils, all in the name of preserving the nebulous myth of "SEC Speed."
No one else does this. Red Sox fans don't pull for the Yankees in the World Series. Whichever team loses Steelers/Ravens on Saturday won't be cheering on the winner to represent the AFC North. That's because the first rule of sports fandom is if you can't root for your team, the next best thing is to root against your enemies.
Do college football fans not get this? Not that we presume Bill Plaschke speaks for anyone, but he's not the only person on the West Coast hoping that an Oregon win would mean respect for the Pac-10. It doesn't work that way. If Auburn wins tonight, it doesn't make the SEC better than the Pac-10, or any other conference. Same for Oregon. All it means is the winning team was better than the losing team, and every other team in the country (not including TCU).
All Bama and Oregon State fans rooting for their rivals tonight should be publicly shamed and forced to wear their rivals' gear to next year's Iron Bowl and Civil War.