RON HART: Pride & Prejudice, the religion of Southern football

Published: Sunday, September 29, 2013 at 09:27 AM.

ORLANDO — Southeastern Conference football teams have won the national title seven years in a row now. Before that it was the University of Texas. Southern teams dominate this fanatical American pastime. You have to go back to 2002 to find a Northern team that won the national championship (Ohio State). We Southerners take pride in football like Northerners do in corrupt politicians, high taxes, cold weather and potholes.

In last year's championship game, Alabama beat Notre Dame and imaginary linebacker Mante Te’o 42 to 14. The Fighting Irish were distraught. Too bad the Irish do not have some sort of time-honored custom in which they commiserate with each other and drown their sorrows.

It is an article of faith here in the “Bible Belt” that SEC football is holy. You are to have no other gods before it, or even at halftime, not even NASCAR or the lottery.

If you drive south in the fall, about the time you start seeing Elvis artwork and shot glasses with the Confederate flag on them, folks will be watching SEC football. That pastime stretches from Kentucky south to Orlando. South of Tampa, you are back in Michigan.

The only college football weekend I missed was opening weekend, when I had to go shopping for wedding preparations with my daughter. It was torture, tantamount to violation of the Geneva Conventions. To no one’s surprise, I got all ADD and kept trying to find a TV. Do you know how hard it is to find football on a TV in a bridal shop? It is like trying to find a romantic comedy on ESPN.

Northern elites resent pretty much anything Southern. That is why it is fashionable to be snarky about colleges in the South. To be fair to Northerners, if I lived in a state that smelled like bong water and lost its top football recruits to the South each year, I’d be angry too. They are kind of just left with hockey.

Rest assured, the South beating the North in football is rooted in far deeper issues than an amateur college football contest. It could be maneuvers in preparation for secession.

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