Only in the South: Football Moments
Only in the South does Game Day trump any and all events. Andrew Lawrence, Sports Illustrated writer-reporter, shares 10 more reasons we're in a league of our own.
On Oct. 8, 1988, LSU trailed Auburn at home 6-0 with less than 2 minutes left when LSU quarterback Tommy Hodson found tailback Eddie Fuller in the end zone for the winning touchdown. The score whipped the crowd of 79,431 at Tiger Stadium into a frenzy that reverberated in Baton Rouge. A day later the stunned campus geologists discovered the moment had registered on the Richter scale. Tiger stadium hasn't played host to any official seismic events since, but its crowds have produced enough intimidating ones to keep opponents quaking in their cleats.
Texas has Bevo the longhorn, Oklahoma has twin ponies Boomer and Sooner, and Arkansas has Tusk the razorback. Beware of Tusk, as great escapes run in his family. One predecessor was captured after killing a coyote, a 450-pound domestic pig, and seven rattlesnakes.
When one deranged Crimson Tide fan poisoned Auburn's landmark Toomer's Oaks, Bama Nation raised $50,000 through Tide for Toomer's, a Facebook group. When tornados sacked Tuscaloosa two months later, the Auburn Family reciprocated with more than $175,000 in relief funds.
The cavalcade of funky sounds and animated formations of the Grambling State vs. Southern University Battle of the Bands is ultimately what makes the teams' annual Thanksgiving Day clash, dubbed the Bayou Classic.
The truest satisfaction comes from denying your rivals the kind of oversize bauble that transforms trophy cases into china cabinets. Louisville and Kentucky vie for a brass chalice (the Governor's Cup, pictured); Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, a crystal dinner chime (the Bedlam Bell); Rice and Houston, a copper ice pail (the Bayou Bucket).
Just as the players have their attire guidelines, so too do Southern fans–it's a sport coat and sundress affair. And the formalwear extends to the tailgate table: sterling silver, bone china, and candelabra are common trimmings.
In addition to being exceedingly good-looking, the Southern female football fancier knows how to dress, how to drink, and how Coach is going to adjust for the second half. That's the kind of girl you take home to Mama.
Alabama has its RV army, whose troops converge by the hundreds on Crimson Tide games. And Tennessee has its Volunteer Navy, a fleet of various vessels that collects in equally impressive numbers around Neyland Stadium–one of only two college football venues accessible by water.
After a 36-year ban for being too noisy, Mississippi State's official noisemaker is back–before games, between quarters, during time-outs, after scores, and during possession changes. Chime in any other time, though, and the Bulldogs could get rung up for $5,000.
Since the advent of the Bowl Championship Series in 1998, Southern teams have won 11 of 13 national championships. Which is just another way of saying: Only in the South do you get real bragging rights.