What’s the deal with the SEC! chant?

Now that college football season is over, and FSU won the final BCS Championship, there’s a bit of a college football vacuum to fill. I might as well take a few minutes and explain something that seems to really confuse people outside the SEC: What’s the deal with the “S-E-C! S-E-C!” chant?

The short version

The SEC! chant was a marketing gimmick to get SEC teams more votes and more favorable rankings in the polls, meaning higher BCS rankings and more shots for SEC teams to win the BCS Championship.

The longer version

The BCS era was a transitional regime between simply voting for the national champion and deciding the championship “on the field” with a playoff. It was essentially a two-team playoff whose participants were determined by a computer algorithm that accounted for poll rankings, strength of schedule and some other stuff. The actual algorithm changed often throughout the BCS era as components were dropped, certain polls got more weight, the strength of schedule formula changed, and they made other tweaks here and there. But at its core, the BCS relied very heavily on polls, getting votes, and beating other BCS-ranked teams.

The SEC! chant reminds voters that the SEC is pretty good, so they’ll give SEC teams more votes, leading to higher poll rankings for SEC teams. This has an explicit benefit of nudging SEC teams ahead of non-SEC teams in the polls, and subsequently improving BCS rankings for SEC teams. For the last half of the BCS era, if it came down to a tight race between an SEC team and a non-SEC team in the polls, the SEC team would generally get preference. Sometimes, the preferred team would be a non-UF SEC team, but sometimes it would be UF, and we’d get a shot at a title. So that’s one way it helps UF when UF fans root for the SEC.

There was a nice indirect benefit, too: The BCS formula also included a bump for “quality wins”, so beating a Top 15 BCS team meant a better BCS score, which often meant a better BCS ranking. Most of a football team’s season is played against conference opponents, so if your conference had a lot of BCS-ranked teams, then that was good for your team because there were more “quality win” opportunities available. But if your team was the only BCS-ranked team in its conference, that meant there were no in-conference quality wins available. In this sense, rooting for the SEC was also rooting for UF.

To put a finer point on it, the SEC! chant gave SEC teams a small mathematical edge over non-SEC teams in the BCS formula; since UF is an SEC team, UF got a small piece of that edge. So, at least in the SEC, we could have our cake and eat it too—we could root for our team by rooting for our conference.


The trick with this whole gimmick is the SEC had to show up and actually win games so that the SEC! chant would continue to carry weight. If the SEC had gone to a couple BCS Championship games and lost, the chant would’ve been almost worthless. Of course, the SEC dominated the BCS era with the most appearances of any conference, winning three more BCS Championships than all other conferences combined. So it seems the SEC! chant served its purpose.


Gator Bait!!

I don’t have much to say because there isn’t much to say. We own the ‘Noles. We beat ’em at Ron Zook field last year and, if not for some egregious officiating, we would’ve beat ’em at home two years ago. In fact, there are a lot of parallels to our 2003 matchup, but the glaring difference is that the refs didn’t blow call after call this year.

At any rate, by blowing out FSU, Urban Meyer has redeemed himself and our season (not that Urban really needed much redeeming). Granted, a win at South Carolina a couple weeks ago would’ve been wonderful, but beating all our big rivals–UGA, UT and FSU–in a season for the first time since 1996 is plenty reason to celebrate. Pile on our first season since 2000 without a home loss and things just seem that much sweeter.

So, the pros of our season just might outweigh the cons. With the whooping we put on FSU, we might get a decent bowl bid. Also, we played a very difficult SEC schedule this year and Urban still had a decent season while installing a new system and working around several key injuries. It’s obvious that a healthy Gator squad with a full year of Meyer’s offense under its belt will be a force in the SEC next year. Also, it seems we may have finally taken back the Swamp.

All in all, it’s been a good season. I’m glad I got to go to both the Tennessee and FSU football games. Next up, the Alabama State vs. Florida basketball game on Monday night.


So far, so good

Thanksgiving was excellent and I really enjoyed the time I spent with my family. It was a little short, but very good.

Then, last night, I went to the Florida State vs. Florida basketball game. Although we opened facing a 21-4 deficit, we came back to win by 8 points (74-66). It really should’ve been a much bigger win, but the ref’s were calling everything, even things that didn’t actually happen. I wasn’t happy with the way they called it, but I doubt FSU was either. It was just a sloppy officiating job on both sides of the floor.

Anyway, it was good to see us get the win because our guys had to win in completely different ways than they did in New York. In the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament, we won with our 3-point shooting. Last night, we were forced to win without our 3-pointers. We were also facing a very aggressive defense and finicky ref’s who would sometimes call every little thing and sometimes would miss obvious calls. All in all, it was a tough way to win, but our team was able to pull it out in spite of our youth.


Time to travel

Well, it’s that time of year again. For about the next six weeks, I’ll be criss-crossing the lower half of the country. Here’s my itinerary for the next 10 days:

  • Tomorrow, I leave for Jacksonville at noon
  • Thursday, I’ll wake up and spend the day visiting my family, first at Dad’s place, then at Grandma’s
  • Friday afternoon, I’ll head down to Gainesville to see a couple basketball games, hopefully the FSU football game and just bum around for a few days
  • Tuesday afternoon, I head back to Jacksonville to board a plane to L.A.
  • Tuesday night through Friday afternoon, I’m in El Segundo for work
  • Finally, I head back to Dallas on Friday night (December 2)

I’m looking forward to the next couple weeks, but I know it’s going to be exhausting. Then, I only have a couple weeks before I head home for Christmas.

I’m pretty much done packing, so I think it’s time to get some sleep.


Big game tonight

I’m not even being sarcastic. The Gators need this game pretty badly, but not in the typical sense. Meyer has begun to retool the offense, but we’re far from polished. We squeaked by Georgia using a stripped down offense that mostly went north-south. But that’s not Meyer’s vision and I’m sure he hasn’t forgotten his beloved Spread.

This game will be a chance for the Gators to add some Spread plays and work on blocking in the more complicated schemes. We have to remember that we still have to beat South Carolina on their field, then we have FSU at home and a bowl game. But, if Auburn prevails in Athens, we’ll be playing in Atlanta for the SEC Championship, a likely rematch against the Tide. We already saw what happened in Tuscolusa and if we’re going to beat them the offense has to be clicking on all cylinders. Now is the time to start tuning up the engine.

I expect to see a good mix of old school play calling and some new school Spread plays. I also expect our defense to give Vandy fits. I’m not necessarily predicting a blowout, but I expect us to cover the spread (looks like about 19 points).


Heading home for Thanksgiving

I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to make it home this year because of the high plane ticket prices, but things have worked out just in time. I was able to get my return ticket paid for by my company, so that means I only have to buy a one-way ticket to Jacksonville, which I got for a reasonable price. Basically, I’ve arranged for a training session in El Segundo the week after Thanksgiving. I’ll fly to J-ville on Wednesday, the 23rd, hang with the family for a couple days, go to Gainesville on Friday or Saturday and hopefully get a ticket to the FSU game. Then I’ll continue hanging in G-ville for a few days and I fly to El Segundo on Tuesday afternoon. I’ll be in El Segundo until Friday afternoon, then I finally head back to Dallas to return to the grind.

Christmas travel plans

Tentatively, I’m leaving Dallas around December 15 and driving east. A friend of mine might be accompanying me so we can hit Shreveport on the way and maybe go to a casino or two. If he joins me, the plan is that he’ll fly out to Dallas (one-way) and then ride with me back east. After Shreveport, we’ll go to Atlanta (where he lives) and hang for a few days before parting ways to go spend Christmas with our respective families. Of course, there’s a 10-day gap between when I’ll leave Dallas and Christmas day, so I’ll have to see about visiting G-ville and maybe going to a Gator basketball game during that week.

After Christmas, I’ll probably head north to Atlanta to hang with all the locals I know and also to see all the Crusade Staffers that will be there for Christmas Conference. Last year, a friend of mine threw a pretty sweet New Year’s party, so hopefully she’ll do that again.

I’ll head back to Dallas around January 2nd and prepare to begin another year of boring work.


It’s still great to be a Florida Gator…

But it’s a bummer losing like that. I’m still not sure what happened but, if I had to guess, I’d probably use the words “meltdown” and “unprepared”. Our defense stunk up the stadium and our offense was a one-trick pony with little resembling anything “spread” or “option”. ‘Bama played well, but they beat a team that was only a shell of the team I’ve seen the past few weeks. I don’t know where the Gators were on Saturday, but they weren’t in Tuscaloosa.

Hopefully we’ll play well and run Meyer’s offense this weekend against Mississippi State. I hope we’re able to get a win and gain some confidence in our schemes so that we’re prepared when we go to LSU in a couple weeks. I think the most important thing to remember right now is that we’re still in control of the SEC East. We do have a loss, but it was to West team, so it did the least amount of damage possible. If we get back on track and run the table in the East, we’ll go to the SEC Championship game and hopefully get a rematch against the tide.

Anti-Gator fans?

Since our loss to Alabama, I’ve had a few people–none of whom are Alabama students, fans or alumni–say to me or e-mail me a big “Rolll Tiiiide!!” I don’t get it. I don’t understand why people dislike Florida so much. My only guess is that Spurrier was so dominant and cocky that people just decided to hate the Gators. One of the people who said that to me is an Auburn grad. When they lost to GaTech earlier this year, I didn’t say a word to him. When they got snubbed out of the National Title game last year, I told him I thought that was stupid and the BCS was flawed. The only jawing I’ve ever done is to say, “We’ll see you in the SEC Championship.” That’s it. But when we lose to a tough football team, this guy starts giving me lip. Seriously?

Another person, an FSU fan, e-mailed me with nothing but “Rooolll Tiiiide!” I guess she may’ve been irked because, after she tried to tell me how we’re going to lose this year and UGA has our number, I called Doak “Ron Zook Field”. I never e-mailed her last year (or any of multiple opportunities) to say “Go ‘Canes!!!!” or “Go Terps!!” I didn’t e-mail her to talk smack after we beat FSU on their field last year. But we get a road loss to a Top 15 team that she doesn’t even root for and I immediately get an e-mail? Seriously? Nevermind that an astute FSU fan would realize that Florida’s record come November 26 could have a huge impact on FSU’s potential to play for the National Title, and a Florida loss doesn’t help their cause.

After UGA beat us last year, I was at Radio Shack buying some batteries or something. Some random dude saw my hat and came up to say, “You a Gator fan? Man, them Bulldogs beat y’all today, huh?” He was obviously trying to get a rise out of me and also obviously not a Georgia fan. I said, “Well, we have to give them one every 15 years or so. We figured this’d be a good year to do it since we don’t have a coach and all.” He just kinda’ sheepishly put his head down and walked away. I guess he hadn’t really thought his chiding through. But why say anything to begin with? I’m surrounded by Sooners fans. I haven’t said a word to any of them about their season so far. I work with several Aggies. I haven’t made a peep. It’s one thing to root for a football team, but it’s another thing entirely to root against a team just to spite its fans.

Yes, I know what a rivalry is. No, I don’t like FSU or Tennessee. But, no, I wouldn’t e-mail anyone from those schools if their team lost a football game to some team I don’t even root for. That just seems silly and sort of mean-spirited.


It’s great to be a Florida Gator

Wow. Saturday’s football game was really incredible. I’m pretty sure the last time a home game held that much significance was Tennessee in 2001 at the end of the season. If we won that game, we would go on to play for the SEC Championship and possibly play in the National Championship. But we lost.

It’s been almost four years since then and we’ve had some big disappointments and a couple nice wins, but Saturday’s game was the first game in a while that’s meant something. We’re back in the Top 5. Our schedule is difficult, but if we remain undefeated and win the SEC, we’ll have an excellent shot at playing for the Championship. We still have to play LSU, Georgia, Alabama, another West team in the SEC Championship and so-far-undefeated FSU. If our schedule is as difficult as it seems it will be, we could have to win five games over Top 10 opponents.

But all that’s just chit-chat. The real deal was going to a big game in the Swamp and beating a solid opponent when it really counted. And the best part of the real deal was watching the game from the student section, 20 rows up on the 30-yard line. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had at the Swamp, and I’ve been to a lot of home games.

Now, I just have to see about getting tickets (plane and football) for the FSU game in November. I’m hoping to take Thanksgiving week off and travel home to see family, friends and some Florida football.


Florida: Days 9 through 11

Well, my last few days in Florida were relaxing, but fun. On Friday, we went out to Newberry for a baby-back-ribs fix and then watched Miami beat FSU again. Obviously, I take great pleasure in seeing the ‘Noles beaten again and it was even better that FSU could’ve iced the game with a late fieldgoal if only it hadn’t been blocked. Before the game, I predicted they’d go for something new and different since “wide left” and “wide right” were becoming sort of cliche. They didn’t disappoint.

Saturday, I went to the first Gator football game of the year and it was a route, just as everyone expected. I actually left near the end of the third quarter because we’d already been there about four hours thanks to a rain delay. We ended up winning 49-10 and, although we didn’t look perfect, all of the problems I saw can definitely be corrected by some well used practice time this week. I can’t wait for the Tennessee game on Saturday night.

Sunday, I went to church and then packed up and started heading home. A couple of my friends in Gainesville took me to Starke (half-way between Gainesville and Jacksonville) to eat lunch at Sonny’s and then they passed me off to another friend who got me the rest of the way to the airport. My flight home was uneventful (my favorite adjective for describing plane rides) and I got in about 9:30 last night. Since then, I’ve been laying around feeling absolutely exhausted and trying to get some things done around my apartment.

I’m really surprised how tired I am and I hope I’m ready for work tomorrow. I just realized that, before my 11 day trip, I worked 16 of 17 days consecutively and the last 4 days before I left were jammed with shopping and last minute preparation. Basically, I’ve been going for 3 weeks straight and I’m looking forward to doing nothing this week.

Acting trudging along

Since my coach left for LA and I’ve been out of town, I haven’t been working nearly as hard on my acting as I would like to be. I’ve been doing a little reading, but I haven’t been practicing, training or signing up for showcases and such as I should be. I feel like a real slacker. I guess the good news is that in three weeks I’m headed to L.A. for five days and part of that time will be spent getting my stuff together for acting. I’ll be getting headshots, meeting with my coach and hopefully doing a little networking. I really need to turn up the heat and get serious and I’m starting to feel a sense of urgency. Mostly, I feel I should always be moving forward and I haven’t been doing that lately (at least not at a pace I’d like).


Florida: Days 6 through 8

Well, power was restored here a couple days ago and we finally got cable/internet back up today. This trip has been a lot different than my last trip because it’s basically been about seeing people and spending time with them. Usually, I spend time with people by getting a meal with them. My routine has been to wake up around 10:30, go to lunch with someone around noon, then come home and nap or whatever, then go to dinner with someone else (usually a group) around 6:00 or so, then hang out and play cards or something till around 2 AM.

Last time I was here, I spent more time playing frisbee golf and basketball and stuff like that. Ironically, though the two trips are a lot different, they’re very similar in that my goal is to spend as much time with my friends as possible. Last time, it worked out so I was playing sports with them; this time, I have spent my time just sitting around and eating with them. Both experiences have been equally fulfilling.

Last night, I went to a Crusade meeting and I was really impressed with how well it went. The emcees were great and the meeting flowed smoothly and was effective. I enjoyed it and I had a great time seeing everyone while I was there.

Tonight, I’m getting the crew together to head out to Newberry for Newberry Backyard BBQ–the best babyback ribs I’ve ever had. Then, we’re going to come back here and watch the FSU vs. Miami game. Hopefully, FSU will lose by a field goal. I guess the only thing better than that would be if they lost by a field goal that was allowed by some ridiculous oversight by the ref’s.

Only a few more days and I’m headed back to Texas. Looks like I’ll be traveling a lot over the next few months: First week in October, I’m going to be in LA; Third week in October, I’ll be in LA; Thanksgiving, I’ll be in Florida; Christmas, I’ll be in Florida and Atlanta. All this traveling is already putting a huge damper on my workout schedule. It’s a hard-knock life.