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Carson: SEC always entertains

| Monday, September 21, 2015

Oh, Auburn.

So many people thought you’d be good. It was an offseason full of praise and playoff predictions, that led to you to starting the year ranked sixth in the preseason AP Top 25 poll.

How terribly, terribly wrong those people were.

It must be easy being an SEC team. No, seriously. The Tigers, a team that lost five games last season, started the year with edge of being a top-10 team. Or take Arkansas, who’s 2-18 in its last 20 conference games — why’d people think they were good enough to open the year in the top 20, let alone anywhere near it?

And just three weeks into the season, we’ve already seen everyone’s mistakes.

After limping to the finish line against still-winless Louisville in its opener, and sneaking past FCS Jacksonville State, Auburn got clattered Saturday by LSU.

Well, really just Leonard Fournette. But still.

If only Auburn’s struggles weren’t the best story from the vaunted SEC West, though — in the two weeks since Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema ran his mouth about Ohio State’s schedule, his Razorbacks have lost at home to Toledo and Texas Tech.

It’s beautiful.

But it should also serve as a strong reminder of how generally terrible preseason polls are, and how they have the ability to shape narratives for the whole year.

Another thing that’s beautiful?

Crowd shots at Alabama games. While you can find some pretty solid crowd shots anywhere — Kentucky basketball fans this past April or the sad Virginia fan from last weekend are two of the better looks — there’s nothing quite like Crimson Tide fans.

It’s the perfect concoction for it all. You’ve got a fan base that treats their team’s success like it’s life or death to get you off on the right foot and a team that typically has a lot of success to follow it up; when something bad happens to ‘Bama, it seems like quite the anomaly.

Then you’ve just got the insanely great mix of people at Alabama games, from the types who call into Finebaum each week straight through the fraternity boys and sorority girls, dressed in their “Saturday’s finest” for the event of the weekend. Add in the media lens that’s always on the Crimson Tide program, and most weeks, it’s a must-watch occasion.

When it’s a crazy stupid game like Saturday night’s 43-37 Mississippi win, it’s even better.

A little story: I used to hate the SEC.

Everything about it was the worst — from the constant success of Alabama, LSU and Florida while I grew up to the aura of superiority, my most intense bit of hatred came from that collection of schools in the Deep South.

But now? I’ve seen how incredibly amazing everything I once hated is.

Sports exist mainly for our entertainment, and everything about that conference fits the bill perfectly — from the rabid fan bases like those in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, or Athens, Georgia, to the electrifying players that always call the SEC home and the traditions of those blue-blood programs, there’s never a dull weekend in college football thanks to the SEC.

And, of course, there’s always someone to root against. This week, that was then-No. 2 Alabama. The week before, it was Auburn as they held off Jacksonville State — and this week, just seven days after being our darling, now-No. 3 Mississippi becomes that squad when they host Vanderbilt.

Sure, there’s the constant annoyance of hearing “SEC speed” or watching Alabama win when they actually do well, but I’ve come to learn the beauty of the conference far outweighs its downsides.

So whether it’s perennially overrating a third of the conference before the season starts, providing us with the most amazing fan reactions in the business or just letting incredibly-talented athletes like Leonard Fournette do their thing, stay awesome, SEC.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Alex Carson

Alex Carson graduated from Notre Dame in 2017 after majoring in Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics and living in O’Neill Hall. Hailing from the Indianapolis area, but born in Youngstown, Ohio, Carson is a Cleveland sports fan convinced that he’s already lived the “best day of his life.” At The Observer, Carson was first a Sports Writer, then served as an Associate Sports Editor (2015/16) and an Assistant Managing Editor (2016/17), before finishing his tenure as a Senior Sports Writer. A man of strong convictions, he ardently believes that Carly Rae Jepsen's 2015 release E•MO•TION is the greatest album of his generation, and wakes up early on Saturday mornings to listen, or occasionally watch, his favorite least-favorite sports team, Aston Villa. When he isn’t writing, Carson spends his time counting down the days to the next running of the Indianapolis 500 and reminding people that the Victory March starts with the lyric, “Rally sons of Notre Dame,” not “Cheer, cheer for Old Notre Dame.”

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