I don’t post much anywhere online, but I do read EDSBS and TBL on most days. (Desk Job!) However, after reading Charles UF’s recent “Conversations with Pac-10 Fans” this morning, I felt compelled to chime in. I’m a huge college football fan (relatively speaking. In other words, relative to most fans in So Cal.) I am meeting four others in Tennessee next Friday to see my first SEC game. UT vs. Oregon. I. AM. PUMPED.
Before agreeing with Charles about most Pac-10 fans, a little bio…..
We pick one game each year to travel to and in the past decade we’ve seen Ore St @ Penn St, USC @ The Shoe, Ore St @ Oregon, USC @ Wazzu, USC @ Hawaii and I’ve been to every Pac-10 stadium. (I guess this silly expansion means I'm heading to the Rockies soon.) A friend and I put together the trip each year and then we send invites out to friends. The two of us are constants, but we get a different group each year. This year we decided we HAD to go to SEC country. The Mecca. We HAD to. We flirted with several games and after passing on Bama/PSU, UGA/Ark, The Iron Bowl, TWLOCP and others, we decided on UT/Oregon. We had to have a night game. That was a must. (Of course we find out the game isn't at "night," but we'll take late afternoon.) Not only so we could wander around before the game and meet people, but because the atmosphere on TV for the SEC night games is fantastic. I wanted to see an SEC inter-conference game to really soak up the SEC atmosphere, but the schedule didn’t work out that way. Seeing the Pac-10 vs. SEC is great though. Two of us are flying in from LA, two from DC and one more from Chicago. We have grads from USC, Michigan, Illinois, Cal Lutheran and UVA.
As to Charles' comments, college football is a hobby out west, nothing more. If you live in LA and you are any kind of a sports fan, you pick USC or UCLA, whether or not you have any affiliation with either one. Both talk a lot of smack to each other as each one dominates one of the two major sports. However, neither fan base is very knowledgeable of CF outside of Los Angeles, let alone outside the Pac-10. I consider myself pretty knowledgeable, but I find myself frustrated as was Charles because most people just support their own and don’t see much of anything else. The craziness that surrounds every SEC team cannot be touched by any Pac-10 school. Maybe the Oregon schools could be compared today, but on a much smaller scale. Both schools were perennial stink for decades and had small fan bases. Now they’re at least on the map and probably have more crazy fans per capita than other Pac schools. The UCLA fan that Charles mentioned is pretty standard. UCLA fans seemingly get more joy out of USC losses than they do their own victories (Is that what it's like with Auburn? Doubt it.) and it’s rare to have a conversation with any of them like Charles was fishing for with his UCLA fan. That’s pretty much how it is out here. (Laker fans know the NBA, though.) USC fans are more knowledgeable, but as soon as the games are over, they move on. I mean, we get down after losses. Texas still eats us all alive, but it's not like the perception I have of SEC fans. I don't know many SC fans who take it home with them. When your team is top 10 every year and your best players are talked about on ESPN all day long, you eventually learn about the other schools and their players because you want to beat all of them. UCLA just wants to beat USC. The fan Charles ran into said he was a big college football fan. Well, relative to most people in LA, he is a big fan. If you simply go to a UCLA game then you’re a big fan. They barely sell half of their tickets to their home games and there is 17M people out here. So, yeah, if you go to a game then you are a big fan. Nobody else goes. Same went for USC in the 90’s. If UCLA started winning big, I don't think it would get quite the support USC has gotten for the past 10 years, but USC has been a power for a long time. Again, the rivalry must be similar to Auburn/Bama. Auburn was up 14 in the first quarter this past season vs. Bama. Auburn fan must have been bouncing off of the walls! The difference is that the fan bases in AL are nutso and the fan bases in CA are, uh, meh. Relatively speaking, of course. Didn't Bama cancel classes or something last season because of a game? That wouldn't happen in a million years at UCLA or SC. Never.
The Oregon fans are probably the most rabid fans. (Oregon fans are easily the worst in the conference. (My apologies, Duck fans. This isn't meant as a flame. Instead of "worst," let me say, uh, "passionate.") Cal fans are rabid too, but I think that may just be towards SC.) The Oregon schools are really the only ones that aren’t in major cities. Well, Wazzu is so far out in the middle of nowhere that even if they win, nobody notices anyway. Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix and Seattle are home to 6 of the 10 teams. ASU is in Phoenix and I still can’t figure out why they can’t win. I’ve said they are a sleeping giant for 20 years now. Wake up, already. Minus Jake The Snake, ASU hasn’t done anything at all. Is Tucson a major city? UofA missed a last second field goal vs. #1 Miami in the 90's and I still think it would have changed their history had they won that game. They were on the brink.
Anyway, I could go on for hours, especially as I sip my pre-slumber Crown and 7. I wouldn’t have chimed in if not for the fact that I’m on a plane to Knoxville in 8 days. I cannot wait to see what it’s like out there. Like I said, I’ve seen a ton of games, but I know this will be like none other and it’s all due to the fans. College ball, southern hospitality, humidity……and lots of beer. I. AM. PUMPED.
And finally.....In years past, I would have rooted for UT big time. I’ve always been a fan for whatever reason, but in the past decade this hatred for other conferences and the ridiculous BCS almost forces us to root for our enemies. I hate Oregon, but I suppose I’ll be rooting for them on the 11th because I’m a Pac-10 guy. It will be fun to see what kind of responses we get from UT fans.
Good luck this season whomever you’re rooting for……. Whoever? Whomever?