When I was a wee sprat growing up in the industrial jungles of the Midwest, Saturday morning was (and still is) the highlight of my week. Long before booze and crippling hangovers ruined many a weekend, my youthful exuberance allowed me to wake up bright and early every weekend in the fall for an unhealthy dose of college football. Instead of running to the TV and turning on shitstain programming like “The Smurfs,” or “The Snorks,” CBS and their daily blockbuster lineup of games was trump. After wrestling with my older sister and commandeering the remote, victory was mine for the next 12 hours. Said nemesis was the same sister who got me grounded from watching Super Bowl XXIII after I dumped a jar of hot Cheese Whiz over her head moments before kickoff. Anyhoo, I write today to commemorate THE GREATEST NETWORK SPORTS INTRO SONG IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE, the immortal CBS college football music. Here’s a taste if you are unfamiliar with it:
My utter fascination with this music hasn’t waned one bit over the last two decades, and it still gives me chills. Listening to a micro-second of the jingle instantly transports me back to the old living room, where I would watch The Irish, led by legendary quarterback Tony Rice, dismantle hapless opponents. With my love for all things ND already well known, I’m going to shift my attention to what CBS is now associated with, SEC football.
Back in the 80’s, CBS opened my eyes to teams from the South. The network was always good for an SEC game or two throughout the day, and it was love at first sight. My interest, after the Irish cashed out their newest victim, shifted to the likes of Auburn, Alabama, and Georgia. It was a guilty pleasure/obsession of mine to watch these far away teams, with players I’ve never heard of before, battle it out in raucous stadiums packed to the brim.
Slowly but surely, CBS began to lean toward the SEC for all of their college football coverage, and the mystique was ruined for me as a “closet SEC fan.” The conference became so oversaturated with television coverage and hype, the simple, yet powerful image that the SEC once possessed began to dissolve. I felt as if too many others were jumping the bandwagon, and the special bond I had with these Southern teams was cheapened.
These guys (exception ‘Bama) were no longer the underdogs, and traditional powerhouses like the Big Ten and Pac-10 were seriously threatened by upstart teams like Steve Spurrier’s Gators, and Johnny Majors’ Vols. The playing field was now level, and my secret crush on the SEC had to end, for it was now a full-on “Us or Them” dilemma. This point was driven home with stunning precision on November 9, 1991.
Notre Dame welcomed Tennessee into South Bend that morning, and couldn’t wait for them to leave later that evening. The Irish jumped out to a 24 point lead, and crumbled in the second half, blowing the game, and their National Title hopes, 35-34. This is one of the most heartbreaking losses I have endured as a fan, and it came at the hands of the conference I adored years before.
Much has changed since those Saturday’s on the carpet. The SEC now pumps out legitimate contenders year after year, and have been heralded as the most powerful conference in the nation by many (reluctantly including me) for the last 5 years. I sit here today (on a couch now), moments before CBS kicks off the 2008 SEC Championship, and since this year’s installment is by far the biggest in the game’s 16 years, the intro music sounds even more inspiring. Here’s to a great game, and both ‘Bama and Florida fans should be proud of a great season, regardless of today’s outcome.
ATTN Readers: Anyone who remembers an SEC game from the 80’s (I believe Georgia/Auburn, but was very young) where after the game, fans ran onto the field and began to rip grass off the endzone, please put up the year and matchup. This has killed me for years. Thanks, Steelhead
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