This past weekend I went down to Alabama to attend the Auburn v. Georgia game at Auburn. I was a guest of the one and only, Kris Dunn, Auburn season ticket holder. Earlier this year, Kris went with me to watch Michigan State play Miami, in Miami, but that wasn’t the true Big Ten experience.
The Auburn v. George game is billed as the “South’s” oldest rivalry (I mean minus the North), as Auburn and Georgia started playing each other in the 1800’s. Both teams were ranked, but Georgia was the favorite (and now #1 team in the country) so Kris and I knew coming into the game it would be a tough one for Auburn to win.
What did his Big Ten guy learn about SEC football games?
1. If I get invited by a friend to go to a game, I’m cheering for their team (assuming they aren’t playing MSU!) and I’m wearing their colors! So, I told Kris I needed an Auburn t-shirt for this beautiful fall day in the 80’s, and maybe an Auburn hat. Kris comes out wearing a polo, no Auburn logo, but Auburn colors. KD’s boys did the same thing, polo shirts, no Auburn logo, Auburn colors. KD’s wife, no Auburn logos, Auburn colors. I’m decked out like a f’ing cheerleader with “Auburn” colors and logos all over my body!
First Big Learning – SEC dudes don’t wear t-shirts, they wear collard shirts to games. Only knuckleheads who don’t know anything would wear a t-shirt! Also, apparently sporting name and logos of the university isn’t really that big of deal. In the Big Ten, it’s the opposite. The more logos and colors and better, and it’s t-shirts and hoodies up north! Also, southern folks (KD and his family) are too nice to tell the Yankee to drop the t-shirt and put a collard shirt on like a gentleman. Or maybe that’s just the south’s way to profile northerners who try to sneak into games!
2. College football and students go together like peanut butter and jelly. Up north you see beautiful young people all over campus on game day. Down south in SEC country, it’s a completely different level. Gameday is a must-attend event. It’s not a game, it’s a social event. The boys wear shirt, tie, and a blazer and young ladies dress up likes they are going to the club.
Second Big Learning – G*d damn I’m sure thankful I didn’t have girls! Okay, when I say the young ladies dressed up like they were going to the club, this is not a joke. It’s like “oh, hey, there’s a football game, what’s the shortest skirt I can find, with a blouse and chunky boots, let’s party!” First, it does not look comfortable AT ALL! Second, where are these girls’ fathers!? The girls up north do not dress like this, even when it’s warm, not saying short shorts are any better, but at least up north it gets cold and the yoga pants, jeans, and hoodies come out for a few games!
3. SEC fans get to the stadium earlier than Big Ten fans. The stadium at Auburn was 80% full with 25 minutes before kickoff. The entire student section was packed way before that. Also, the student section was loud and proud.
Third Big Learning- The SEC has male cheerleaders that are called something like “Yellers”. They give these dudes a microphone and they lead the stadium through cheers. This is a huge honor to get this title and be in the middle of the field pre-game leading all these cheers and it’s loud and folks are into it! College football, nationally, is known for tradition and pageantry, but the SEC takes it all to a different level.
4. You know, people from the south are just more polite. It’s hard coming down south from up north and constantly hearing “Yes, sir!” “No, sir” “Thank you, sir!” And that’s coming from the young men and ladies. The respect level, on average, for adults is at a different level, or at least the show of respect, which I think leads to actual respect, either way, you think about it.
Fourth Big Learning – Civility often starts with words and leads into actions. It’s hard to be uncivil when all of your words towards each other are civil and you have folks doing civil things towards each other. The traffic to and from the game is more civil than up north. The people walking to and from the game are more civil towards each other. Heck, they won’t even cross the street until it says cross!
5. I’m not sure if this is a north vs. south thing, I know the tailgating is huge in SEC country, but I didn’t see the alcohol consumption, publicly, on Auburn’s campus, as I see on Big Ten campuses. Of course, you see some drunk folks, but at Big Ten campuses, you can’t walk twenty feet without seeing someone drunk. At Auburn, it was not that frequent, and I didn’t see anyone totally fall down drunk.
Fifth Big Learning – I have no research to back this up, but I would guess there is way less alcohol consumed at SEC games than Big Ten games on average. The tailgates are much more spread out around campus which might help with this, or maybe it just goes back to being dressed up for games, acting like ladies and gentlemen, so yeah we’re going to have fun and drink, but let’s not be stupid.