Call Me Ishmael

By Johnny Ginter on August 30, 2013 at 2:00p
mmmm ambergrisCOME AT ME

"Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee."

No one knows what motivates an individual. You can look at actions and guess, or you can ask them yourself, or you can consult their friends and family, but in any case you're likely to get a half-colored insight into what truly makes someone tick.

The reason for this is that I believe that people are guarded, even from themselves. We like to think that we do the things that we do for noble or hell, let's be generous, intelligible reasons. I took the long way home because I like the scenery. You play basketball on weekends to stay in shape. We're having fish tonight because I saw it on sale.

Or maybe there's no damn good reason why we do almost anything. Maybe human beings are like 95% raging id, acting on impulses and hoping that our brains are big enough to clean up the mess afterward.

So, for instance, let's say Urban Meyer has this insatiable drive to build the greatest football team ever. That used to really conflict with my own goal of watching Ohio State win championships, but since now it actually coincides with it I don't actually care what motivates him.

That goes for the rest of the college football world. There is an end result, a goal, a finish line that I want to see the collective will of college football drag themselves to whether it's good for themselves or not.

My white whale.

For the last billion years it feels like, the SEC hegemony has ruled all. Great, good for them. They've been better, they deserve it. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.

And it doesn't make it entertaining. Although I guess it kind of depends on the kind of person you are; if you enjoy the football equivalent of a Swiss watch maker beating the hell out of a blind cat with a sledgehammer, then yeah what the SEC does on a weekly basis might be considered entertainment.

This probably sounds rich coming from an unabashed Tresselball devotee, but ah, therein lies the rub.

Most people liked Tressel because he won a lot and beat Michigan. I liked Tressel because he won a lot, beat Michigan, and governed over a ridiculously anachronistic style of football that infuriated people with how such a low-fi version of a game in a high-def era could be so successful. Jim Tressel was the antithesis of everything that college football has become, and his success in spite of that was really, really, really funny on a lot of levels to me.

all it takes is one arrowSup, Mike Slive?

From this perspective, there's nothing particularly fun about the SEC. Each program, from Vanderbilt to Auburn to Alabama, run their program in similar ways. They see Nick Saban's Thanos-like quest to create order in the known football universe by disintegrating all opposition in his path, and so it's emulated and copied to the point where teams become nothing more than brothers from a different mother.

Maybe I'm just an idiot and can't see the incredible thematic and schematic differences between Alabama and Florida and Gerorgia and South Carolina. Or maybe the days of Houston Nutt rubbing his hands in glee while Phillip Fulmer jumps his pickup over a ravine as younger, funner Steve Spurrier calls 911 are over. And maybe the fact that about a million people on Twitter were salivating about the novelty of a potential Vanderbilt victory over Ole Miss is proof positive of what I'm talking about.

And even if I am dumb as hell, the seven straight BCS championships is probably reason enough to take them down.

But simply preventing the SEC from winning another championship, that part is easy. The Boethian wheel will turn, and eventually their time will be up. That's inevitable.

No, what I want is much more difficult to attain. I want to make the SEC irrelevant. I want to make their Wal-Mart brand of football so unfun, so tired and worn out, that the rest of college football laughs when they see two SEC titans slugging it out in base offenses countered by base defenses for 60 minutes. Not so much that they become a fun Tressel-esque throwback that shouldn't work but does; no, I want the SEC to become what they truly hate. The Big Ten.

They're doing a fairly good job of it themselves. Aside from the assembly-line production that is their football teams, they're also frantically circling the wagons to make sure that they way they do things remains unchallenged. Guys like Malzahn and Sumlin are outliers in the Old Math of the SEC. Nick Saban has been an outspoken critic against a sped up version of the game, Bret Bielema backed him up like the traitorous toad that he is, and as you saw in today's Skully, Gary Danielson has decided to reinforce that by claiming that "fans love the huddle."

No they don't. Fans like excitement, teenage athletes like flashy uniforms, and people in general like change when it's cool. And Oregon is cool. Urban Meyer's Sherman-derived total warfare approach to offense is cool. Dana Holgorsen is balding, but still very cool.

So like Smaug, the SEC sits on their horde of gold, hoping that no one notices how old and fat and boring they're getting. Half the conference is barely passable as both football programs and entertainment, and only two or three teams have a legit shot at the SEC championship game due to some inane scheduling this season. So now the only thing left to do is to beat them, and though that's easier said than done, it must be done.

For the good of the land! In the video game Dark Souls, you get a choice at the end: you can either rekindle a flame that will allow the order and kingdom of the Old Gods to continue, at the cost of your own life, or you can refuse, becoming a Lord of Chaos that rules over a world of darkness.

This college football season, let's all be Lords of Chaos. Let us root for maximum chaos at every opportunity, to break the tyrant's grip on the game of college football. Yes, this means weird Under Armor uniforms and games with zero punting (Jim Tressel clutches at his pearls), but in the end that'll be good for us, and college football as a whole. The funeral dirge that is the SEC domination of both football and the coverage of football needs to end.

So maybe I'm not Ishmael. I'm Ahab, and even though this whole chaos and bringing about the end of the reign of the SEC will probably drag us all down to the murky depths below, I still need my Queequeg. Who's with me?


Comments Show All Comments

AltaBuck's picture

Sorry...everytime I hear that quote I think of this guy:

I am Groot - Groot

gwalther's picture

So glad that was the first comment. My thoughts exactly.

Class of 2008

BeijingBucks's picture

Me too... I immediately went KIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRK!

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

Buckeyeneer's picture

I'll be Starbuck!

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

BuckeyeVet's picture

Sign me up, Johnny! I'm pretty good with a spear gun -  I figure a harpoon is the next logical step.

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."          - Groucho Marx

"The recipient of Oyster's ONLY down vote".

Northbrook's picture

For every drop of Moby Dick's blood, another gold coin!

Northbrook's picture

BTW Johnny, beautifully written.

BrewstersMillions's picture

The myth of the greatness that is SEC football got seriously maimed the night LSU and Alabama played to 6-3 tire fire and was taken off of life support a few weeks after that game when we had the privilege of watching them hump a door knob for 4 quarters again in a national championship game.
SEC football is lame. 

BierStube's picture

Yes .. the SEC both lost and won the nat'l championship that night ... I guess the meteor I was rooting for failed to cover the spread!

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

pjtobin's picture

Great read Johnny. Thanks. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

Doc's picture

Johnny, I'm all in. Let's get it started tomorrow and finish it in early January 2014. We can be the team to do it, and should be the team to do it. Long live Urban Meyer. And long live Ohio State. LET'S GO BUCKS!  Damn I need some Buckeye Football!

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Great read!  For a really interesting take on SEC football including some statistics that may surprise you here is an article "Why SEC Isn't As Great In Football As You Think" by Chuck Thomas (a little bit of a political overtone in the prelude paragraph that describes his book, my intention is to point out the football article only):

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

bedheadjc's picture

So Meyer is Bilbo? Or Bard? And Thorin is Delany trying to regain what was once his?
Who is the enabler with the grand scheme working the levers behind the scenes; who is Gandalf?

Johnny Ginter's picture

lol who knows, i mixed soooo many metaphors in this one

Lomar's picture

And I finally stop lurking just so I could hat tip this piece.  Moby Dick into LotR capped off by Dark Souls.  Literary gold for the nerdy football fan.
To me the most impressive part is that you finished Dark Souls.  That's the closest gaming comes to masochism, IMO.

throttlefinger's picture

Sublime, Prof Ginter.

DJ Byrnes's picture

Good stuff then, Johnny.

Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

nm_buck's picture

Noah and Adolphus are going to battle for Queequeg status... I have a feeling they'll be eating opposing QBs for lunch.

"The future is bright at Ohio State."  - Urban Meyer 1/1/15

MN Buckeye's picture

Queequeg, hmmm . . . Double Q? Q2? QQ? 
I guess I am not quite ready to be QQ.

Bucksfan's picture

no, I want the SEC to become what they truly hate. The Big Ten.

They're doing a fairly good job of it themselves.

This is more accurate than you might realize.  The Saban/Miles model is, simply put, exactly what you saw at Michigan from 1965 until Rich Rodriguez took over.  There is absolutely nothing special about what they's just incredibly disciplined, and with the best defensive line talent the country can offer.  But at the end of the day, it's Big Ten football just with faster players.

Spider1944's picture

So Saban and Bielema think spread offenses are unfair and Gary Danielson thinks "fans like huddles". Really, Gary said that? To think he is one of my favorite announcers. Why would fans like huddles? Sooo... they would have time to run and get a beer.
And Saban, Saban recruits the best players and now he doesn't want any disadvantages. He probably would have moaned about John Wooden's full court press teams at UCLA. 
John, if you think fans are sick of the SEC, I imagine most B1G fans are tired of our Buckeyes and Michigan dominance of the B1G. 

"There are 3 things that can happen and 2 of them are bad" - the Curse of Woody Hayes