When a conference wins six consecutive BCS championships, conventional wisdom would suggest staying the course. In 2011, conventional wisdom was abandoned in favor of If It Ain’t Broke, FIX IT WITH A HAMMER, YA’LL.
As such, not even the SEC proved immune to the epidemic of blind panic that swept across the college football landscape this year. Six straight titles or not, Mike Slive ain’t going home empty handed, son. So during the coked-out swap meet that was the 2011 conference realignment, the SEC got all grabby and came away with two handfuls of…
Missouri and Texas A&M.
While it must be said that the haul certainly could have been worse (say, had the SEC invited in weaker teams such as Duke or Ole Miss), the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M was also panned by a number of pundits and fans. Some felt as though the SEC had diluted their brand.
Nonetheless, as a regional population we are bound to the time-honored tradition of pretending to be nice to people we don’t like, so here is a Missouri primer for SEC fans. Brush up on the tenets of sorta Midwestern football as we await the influx of literally dozens of fans into the SEC fold.
(Ed.— Ole Miss; already in. Got it. Apologies.)
Missouri is called the "Show-Me State," which is a slogan made up to trick tourists into crossing the border. Once people visit, they learn that there is literally nothing to see or do in the entire state, except Steak ‘n Shake, which is a southern man’s Kryptonite. People in the lower half of Missouri believe that they are part of Arkansas. These Missourians are appalled by the godless behavior that goes on in the rest of the state, which they can see clearly because Missouri is perfectly flat. People in the northern part of the state, where the border rubs up against Wisconsin, or South Dakota, or Ontario—whatever—are mortified by their hickish southern neighbors. These Yankees seized control of the state for good during the Civil War, when they built the city of Branson to distract the southern Missourians. Ever since then, the northern Missourians have kind of been in charge.
When it is time to follow your favorite SEC team to Columbia for a road game, certain cultural adjustments must be made. First, don’t worry about purchasing tickets. As is their tradition, Missouri officials open the gates of Faurot Field 30 minutes before every home game. Whoever happens to be standing nearby, or driving past the stadium, or who can be lured in with Steak n’ Shake, is whisked inside and told to cheer loudly when the team in the pukish jerseys scores.
Second, the Missouri accent can be difficult to decipher. Unlike the southern dialect, which relies on the stretching and mangling of vowels, the Missouri brogue is one of whining through a nose that has been stuffed full of beans. Thus, "44" becomes "FARTY-FAR". This is not a joke, so do not laugh at them. We might not lose to them in football, but we will lose the phonics battle.
Missouri does not typically win any important games, but neither does anyone else in the SEC East, so it seems like a good fit. The most famous game that the Tigers ever played was a wild shootout against a #1 ranked Nebraska team in 1997 where the final seconds of the fourth quarter saw a deflected pass kicked in the air and caught for a touchdown that may or may not have been legal. (Or, as Les Miles calls it, "2007")
The best player in the history of Missouri, kind of, was Brock Olivo, who was the grittiest gritty white running back that ever gritted grit on a football field. Missouri fans cling to his memory proudly. Of course, Brock Olivo never had to run against an Alabama or LSU front seven in his heyday, and if he was playing today and attempted to do so he would likely explode upon first contact (sending grit everywhere), but that is beside the point. SEC fans: LEAVE THEIR OLIVO ALONE. Just let them keep believing. It’s better this way.
Now, to the Missouri fan who might be reading this: Do not be afraid. Oh, the next year will be terrifying. You will see things you have never seen. Our non-offensive players will frequently impede your team’s path to the end zone, and often wrap their arms around your backs and forcefully plow them into the ground. (We call it "tackling.")
You will want to go back. You will think you have made a grave mistake.
Persevere, for the day will come when you will find yourself in December, 6-6, representing your new league in a third-tier bowl game against some hapless band of ninnies from the PAC-24. When that day arrives you will be hardened, steeled by your many battles. As you pound the opposition into oblivion a clarion call will rise out of the stadium, where paying fans have flocked in the hundreds—nay, thousands—to watch your team perform.
S-E-C! They will chant. S-E-C!