The Collegian
Saturday, May 28, 2022


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The South will rise again

The South is football country. Sure, Penn State, Ohio State, Notre Dame and the University of Southern California are programs storied in success and tradition, but let's get real, y'all: The South wins the 2011 recruiting battle, especially (and I hate to say it as a Florida Gators fan) the REAL USC -- the University of South Carolina.

Jadeveon Clowney, the No. 1 overall prospect in the country, committed to stay in his home state of South Carolina, picking the Gamecocks over Clemson University and the University of Alabama on Monday. He made the announcement live on ESPN's SportsCenter Monday morning, which also happened to be his birthday.

Clowney said he decided to stay close to home because: "I have friends there and my mom can come see me all the time. I can't wait to play with Gerald Dixon [a high school teammate who signed with South Carolina] and with all those boys."

Staying close to Mama is the sign of a true Southerner. Picking a Southeastern Conference school over any team north of the Mason-Dixon Line is the sign of a true Southern football player.

I realize that at this small, liberal arts university where an overwhelming majority the of students are from the North, probably no one will agree with me. But prepare to agree to disagree.

Yes, the Big Ten conference is the conference with the most Bowl Championship Series appearances, coming in with 21, but looks can be deceiving. That conference's feat did not include national championships before the BCS came into action. The SEC claims 18 total national championships, including BCS championships.

The SEC is the conference with the most BCS bowl game wins with 15. It is also the conference with the most BCS championships, tallying seven 'ships. The University of Florida and Louisiana State University are the only two schools tied for the most BCS championships with two apiece. And which conference do y'all think they hail from? The SEC.

The SEC has won the past five BCS championship games, six of the past eight and seven since it began in 1998.

That's more BCS Championships than all other conferences combined. Total Frat Move.

Now, the SEC is not the only conference with Southern swag and dominance. The Atlantic Coast Conference also produces top-tier football programs, namely Florida State University and Virginia Tech. ESPN tabbed the Seminoles with the No. 1 recruiting class, and Virginia Tech dominates the conference season after season. Clemson University of the ACC also recruited the No. 8 class, though the Tigers are probably licking the wound left by Clowney's decision to join the Gamecocks.

Even in our own Football Championship Subdivision, the University of Richmond racked up 15 recruits hailing from Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia. Since 1978, 17 Southern universities have won the FCS championship, with Richmond as the most recent Southern school claiming the title. Total Frat Move.

We may not have the size and influence of SEC, ACC or Big-12 conference schools when it comes to recruiting and general cultural awareness, but Richmond certainly holds its own against ACC schools, defeating Duke University twice during the past five seasons.

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Why do I love SEC football so much? Because the SEC embodies everything football and Southern tradition are about: Tailgating all day with the finest and richest foods in the land (Paula Deen's cookbook, essentially) and the coolest and classiest drinks to quench that scorching heat and thirst (Arnold Palmer plus Firefly equals John Daly), timeless haberdashery by the Southern gentlemen and the tradition of football excellence gives me chills.

The Civil War left the South in shambles physically, economically and emotionally. Yet "the War of Northern Aggression" on the turf ended long ago with the resurgence of Southern dominance in American football. The South will rise again, if only on the football field and College Game Day.

Perhaps Northern schools should stick to basketball, but oh, wait ... the South is pretty good at basketball too: Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Texas, Florida, Vanderbilt, Richmond. Well, at least the North will always have ice hockey.

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