From one Columbia to the other, pockets of fans will puff out their chests and murmur “SEC! SEC!” on Monday night if No. 1 Georgia beats No. 3 TCU to repeat as national champions.
The SEC’s pride is immense, to the point where fans pull for rival schools in postseason games as a way to positively reflect on the conference.
But I don’t see how Georgia (14-0) becoming a repeat national champion helps Missouri or South Carolina, or Tennessee or Alabama, for that matter.
In fact, I can offer 13 reasons why fans of other SEC programs should support TCU (13-1). Here’s a reason for school.
Florida: What do you call a Gators fan who roots for Georgia in any game? A fickle Gators fan. It’s bad enough that Billy Napier, born in Tennessee and raised in Georgia, led Florida to a 6-7 record in his first season. Seeing Kirby Smart celebrate back-to-back national titles would be a punch in the alligator nose.
Kentucky: TCU coach Sonny Dykes’ Air Raid roots trace to Hal Mumme, who coached four seasons at Kentucky. Dykes spent two seasons on Mumme’s staff, and with Dykes as an assistant in 1999, the Wildcats beat four SEC foes and reached the Music City Bowl. Dykes helped develop James Whalen into a consensus All-America tight end. Big Blue Nation can embrace Dykes as one of its own.
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Missouri: The conference logo on the Tigers’ jerseys these past 11 seasons said otherwise, but Mizzou is more of a Big 12 school than it is reflective of the SEC. True, TCU was not in the Big 12 while the Tigers were, but Missouri has more in common with the Lone Star State than it does with Georgia.
South Carolina: An ideal season ending for the Gamecocks would have been wins against Tennessee, Clemson and Notre Dame. It achieved the first two before losing to the Irish in a bowl game. For a consolation, how about seeing rival Georgia fall on the big stage? Plus, Gamecocks fans should appreciate another school with a funky mascot, even if there’s no naming controversy over TCU’s lizard.
Tennessee: For the first time since 2004, the Vols beat rivals Alabama and Florida in the same season, but Tennessee could not conquer Georgia. The Vols should have no desire for Georgia’s emergence as the SEC’s new power to gain more steam. The Bulldogs’ lordship over college football won’t assist UT’s ascent. When the Vols flourished under Phillip Fulmer, Georgia punched below its weight.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores twice canceled a game against Georgia in 2020 amid low roster numbers during the pandemic season. A rankled Greg McGarity, who was Georgia’s athletics director, shot barbs at the Commodores. “We’re angry,” McGarity said in 2020. McGarity departed after the season, but Vanderbilt’s dozens of fans surely haven’t forgotten Georgia’s testy reaction to the cancellations.
Alabama: Georgia has surpassed the Tide as the SEC’s best thing going, and UA should not welcome a national TV audience receiving a reminder of that while the Bulldogs celebrate becoming the first repeat national champion since Alabama went back to back with its 2011 and ’12 teams. You don’t root for the team you’re chasing, and Alabama is chasing Georgia.
Auburn: The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. Need I say more? OK, I will. Auburn and Georgia compete for many of the same prospects. Already, top recruits have good reason to pick the Bulldogs. Smart pumps talent to the NFL. Another national championship would further boost Georgia’s recruiting momentum and interfere with Hugh Freeze’s efforts.
Arkansas: Hogs fans like anything that gets caught in the Texas Longhorns’ claw. If TCU beats Georgia, it will become the first national champion from the state of Texas since the 2005 Longhorns. That will eat at the Longhorns’ ego.
LSU: TCU beat Alabama in three consecutive seasons during the 1950s. After the last of these triumphs, the AP wrote that the “razzle-dazzle kids” from TCU “shattered Alabama.” Any program that shattered Alabama is a friend of LSU.
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Ole Miss: The Rebels should draw inspiration from seeing a program go from plucky underdog to slaying giants. TCU surged by developing three-star athletes into stars and supplementing the roster with transfers. That’s encouraging for an Ole Miss program unlikely to pace the nation’s leaderboard for five-star pledges.
Mississippi State: The Pirate would be pulling for the Horned Frogs. Dykes worked seven seasons as an assistant for Mike Leach at Texas Tech. Dykes attended Leach’s memorial service after MSU’s coach died of heart complications in December. Dykes said he thought about his former boss as the final seconds ticked off in TCU’s Fiesta Bowl win over Michigan. Leach “would’ve gotten a kick out of” TCU won 51-45 in a shootout, Dykes said.
Texas A&M: Did I say 13 SEC teams have reason to pull for TCU? Never mind, make that 12 teams. The Aggies already experience Little Brother Syndrome. Imagine if TCU won a national championship while A&M’s last title came in 1939. It would spiral into Littlest Brother Syndrome. No one needs that. It’s “Go Dawgs” in Aggieland.
Blake Toppmeyer is an SEC Columnist for the USA TODAY Network. Email him at BToppmeyer@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter @btoppmeyer.
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