Hopefully, the Boone Pickens Stadium scoreboard will proclaim good news Saturday evening. But if not, and Georgia is about to post victory over Oklahoma State, be ready for the chant.
"SEC! SEC! SEC!”
Southeastern Conference squads count down notable non-conference wins with a league-pride chorus. "SEC! SEC! SEC!” is their equivalent of Red Auerbach’s victory cigar.
They do this for the simplest of reasons. Those fans are like Granny Clampett; they’re still fighting the Civil War.
When Southern Cal dismantles Ohio State, you don’t hear "Pac-10! Pac-10!” coming from the Troy bleachers. When Michigan beat Notre Dame, the Wolverines don’t cry "Big Ten! Big Ten!,” they sing "Hail to the Victors.” When Texas counts down a bowl success, there is no "Big 12! Big 12! Big 12!” salute.
But be it Georgia or LSU, Florida or Alabama, "SEC! SEC! SEC!” rings throughout the stadium after one of that league’s many powers claims victory.
And over in the other sport that inflames passion, such pride is expressed by the other power league from Dixie, the Atlantic Coast Conference. "ACC! ACC! ACC!” is a Final Four fixture. Again, war between the states.
"There’s something called Southern exceptionalism, where they feel different from other people,” said OU history professor William Savage, whose bachelor degree came from the University of South Carolina. "They assume a defensive posture.
"The way it was when I was there, it’s almost like having to take sides every day.”
The War of Southern Independence, as Southerners like to call it, ended 144 years ago. But its effects remain, in politics, in race relations, in self-examination.
"There’s a deep-seated inferiority, left over from the 19th century,” Savage said.