Monday, September 03, 2007

Explaining My Anti-Big Ten Bias

As my last post made clear, I have an anti-Big Ten Conference bias. This bias is less than a year old. It dates back to early last December, to the day when UCLA beat USC and UF beat Arkansas in the SEC Championship Game. On that day, it became clear that my alma mater, the University of Florida, would send its football team to play in the BCS National Championship Game against The Ohio State University team. This is the point at which by bias began to form.

I have to confess that initially I wasn't looking forward to this game. Like everyone else, I had bought into the hype that the 2006 Bukeyes team was the greatest college football team of recent years. (Which was silly on the face of it, given how good some of the teams from USC and Texas had been in the then IMMEDIATE past.) I would have been happier going to the Sugar Bowl and beating Notre Dame senseless. (There would have been personal reasons for that, which I won't go into here. Let's just say that work would have been a fun place to talk college football for a few years.) But we had to play OSU anyway, so I sucked it up and got myself into the game by listening to local sports talk radio.

Now central Florida is a land of immigrants. Recently that immigration has come from points south, but not so long ago the immigrants were almost exclusivelty from points north. Central Florida has a LOT of residents from the Mid-West. When I was a child, it seemed like half the people in the state were from Michigan, Wisconsin or Ohio. (The other half was primarily from West Virginia, oddly enough.)

With the reality of a UF vs The Ohio State University national championship game, all of those Mid-Westerners came out of the woodwork and onto the local airwaves, and man were they obnoxious! One call after another for a whole month explained to us UF partisans that up there they play real football, men's football. Down here we allegedly just played some form of flashy touch football with no real substance, no real physicality - nothing more than glorified Pop Warner football. (Apparently none of these idiots had watched the LSU-Auburn game from earlier in the season, which was the most hard hitting game I've ever seen at any level.) This was compounded by the fact that several of the local sports talk radio announcers and producers were from the Mid-West themselves, so we had a month of almost entirely anti-South, anti-SEC and anti-UF sports talk radio ... in Central Florida! (Incidentally, if these people are so found of the Mid-West, they're all welcome to move back - the roads run both ways.)

(I should point out that there was one notable exception to the above on the local airwaves - Dan Sileo on WQTM's 740 The Team station had been stating since early November that UF would destroy Ohio State if the two teams played. Sileo is a former University of Miami Hurricane and Tampa Bay Buccaneer. I don't much care for him, as he's a loud-mouthed fool most of the time, but he is usually an excellent commentator about college football.)

Needless to say, this was all highly aggravating on several fronts. First of all, I AM a native-born Floridian. (Even now there aren't that many of us.) Secondly, I am a graduate of the University of Florida. But most importantly, I have watched college football off and on for many decades now, and I know for a fact that SEC football qualifies as serious football.

In any even, after a month of this, I was quite happy to see THE Ohio State University get demolished in the desert of the South West on January 8th.

I should say that by the time the game itself rolled around I was actually expecting a UF win. Having looked at the records, it had become apparent that OSU hadn't actually played anyone that was all that good, other than perhaps a very inexperienced Texas team. Meanwhile Florida had run an even tougher than usual SEC gauntlet. (Let me tell you, I'm happy we didn't have to play LSU a second time last year. LSU got robbed in the Auburn game, and I'm not sure UF would have beat them on a neutral field in December.) On top of having looked at the records, by January 8th, Michigan had been destroyed in the Rose Bowl, and LSU had ruined Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl, speaking to the relative strength of the two conferences. So January 8th was a sweet, sweet day for UF and its fans and alumni.

And of course, in the NCAA Men's Division 1 Basketball Tournament in early April, we got even more satisfaction. Yep, good times to be a Gator!

Anyway, that's why I have an anti-Big Ten bias these days - that and the fact that they can't count. Hey guys, there are actually ELEVEN TEAMS in your conference!

Post Script: I should add that having achieved satisfaction, as it were, last January and April would be enough for a normal person to let the matter drop. However, UF fans and alumni are not normal people - we are in fact world class jerks. I say this with no pride, and a great deal of chagrin. But that's a story for another time.


Pastor_Jeff said...

Well, they do have an "11" in their logo, but it's a fair cop. Who invited Paterno, anyway?

Pastor_Jeff said...

Hey, I just read a pretty cool essay on southern football which you might like. It's mostly deep south, but it was still a fun read.

Icepick said...

Dude, that essay is way too long. shorter version: "College football RULZ!!!"

Icepick said...

Jeff, thanks for the link to the logo. I hadn't known about that. I still find it irritating, however. Michigan and Wisconsin both have excellent mathematics departments, as does Northwestern, if memory serves. And Purdue is just chock-full of engineers. Come on, guys, COUNT!