Time for a confession: I am finally getting SEC-literate, and it's about time, too. Somehow I made it through middle and high school in Columbus with a very cursory sense of the college football world. I hardly knew the rules of football, so watching a game was pretty pointless.
My understanding of the SEC was limited to fashion choices. I knew that if you wore blue and orange together and you weren't at a Columbus High pep rally, you were an Auburn fan. Red and black? Georgia fan. A fascination with elephants? Alabama fan. Or maybe a mascot-happy Republican.
That's honestly where it stopped. Until now. This year is the year I vow to "get it." I'm lagging behind my family. My husband has gone the way of Georgia, and so it seems has our daughter, considering the only SEC onesies she's been gifted with feature Bulldogs logos. My parents are Alabama fans, apparently. Mom even has a T-shirt.
Even the ACC gets love in my family. My cousin, a Jersey Shore-ite with the accent to prove it, graduated from Clemson this year and will definitely quit fist-pumping before she quits tailgating. It's clear I'm the odd man out now, and I need to either pick a team or prepare to be left out for many, many hours in the coming months.
The other day, my husband and I watched all 14 40-second videos for each of the SEC schools on SEC ESPN Network's YouTube channel. It was a crash course. Each school's video had its own flair and hype. Some played on old, bizarre traditions, some were full of noise and screaming fans, but the one that really touched me was actually very quiet and pared down compared to the others.
It featured a new mom rocking her infant baby to sleep while singing the "Rocky Top" chant as a gentle lullaby. Maybe it's just the mom in me, but it choked me up a little bit and I thought, "Aha! I can be a Tennessee Volunteer fan." Then a little Googling told me that if I want to pick a team with some muscle in the rankings, I might need to keep looking.
If I'm going to adopt an SEC team, I need to be sure that they will enjoy success in my inaugural season of fandom.
Nick Marshall, the Auburn quarterback, is favored in some circles to win the Heisman Trophy this year.
Would it be completely insensitive to root for the team that caused my husband and parents so much grief last year?
Probably. And yet they do have a flair for the dramatic. Coming off their worst season in 60 years, they almost won the national championship last season! Sounds like a good fit for a theater person.
Is this it? Am I an Auburn fan? WAR EAGLE!
-- Natalia Naman Temesgen is an independent correspondent. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @cafeaulazy.