Call Me Ishmael

By Johnny Ginter on August 30, 2013 at 2:00 pm
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?

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