Introducing the Excitement/Butthurt Scale
For the first five minutes of last week’s ‘Podcast Ain’t Played Nobody‘, a must-listen for college football fans who want more than the ESPN narrative-focused CFB content, there was an assault on Georgia. An angry listener responded to Stephen Godfrey’s assertion that he hopes Mark Richt wins five national titles at Miami. From there, Godfrey attacked the narrative of the Richt firing fallout, the absurdity of the 90-day FOIA law pushed through the state legislature– apparently, Georgia fans did not react well.
As a Georgia fan, none of this offended me. SEC fanbases are nothing if not insular and passionate. This leads to a lack of rationality that makes the whole thing so damn fun, and the offseason a little less of a slog.
Godfrey posited a scale rating teams on two variables: Excitement and Butthurt. Presented below, the first (and ever-changing, thanks to Laremy Tunsil fallout) Excitement/Butthurt tracking chart. Click image to enlarge.
More Excited than Butthurt
Not a very well-represented sample, the fanbases that can currently be characterized as more excited than butthurt are all among the more anonymous ones in the SEC. After the Dak Prescott era, there is certainly some consternation as to how Dan Mullen maintains Mississippi State’s unprecedented recent run. But aside from the occasional “Mullen to ____” rumors, I can’t see anything to be too mad about. Arkansas falls in the same boat (definitely underselling their crazy) because of the way they keep finishing seasons strong and maintaining high yet reasonable expectations. And Bret Bieliema is officially the most fun coach in the league.
I’ve never met a Mizzou or Vandy football fan, but I think they both toe the line where apathy may play into a lower butthurt rating. Missouri came back down to earth due to an offensive collapse, and maintained a VERY strong (per Missouri standards) status quo by promoting Barry Odom to the head coach position.
Vanderbilt improved last year. That’s enough to keep them on the happy side, as I didn’t leave room in MS Paint for anything below zero on either axis.
Borderline Fanbases- Where the Pendulum Swings
Five programs find themselves just barely on the wrong side of the chart, and I swear I’ll do my best to justify them. As the bell curve of this exercise, these are the programs that have the most potential to make enormous shifts in future iterations of this post.
Kentucky: They’re hard to place here. Mark Stoops now has three years of recruiting and on-field improvement under his belt, but the Cats have completely collapsed in November in each of the past two seasons. Both collapses have led to narrow misses of bowl eligibility. This year represents a chance to get over the hump to the excited scale of the graph– they have three winnable SEC home games in South Carolina, Vanderbilt, and Mississippi State.
Florida: Their excitement would be through the roof if they had a quarterback. Their collapse (while still falling back-asswards into the SEC Championship game) was directly related to the suspension and subsequent transfer of Will Grier.
Alabama: You’d think 4 of the last 7 national championships would have the excitement at a fever pitch. However, I still hear more from Bama fans about their 2015 loss to Ohio State than I do any of their successes. Nick Saban to Texas this offseason is still my fantasy.
Georgia: Yeah, we’re a butthurt fanbase. There’s the GLARINGLY OBVIOUS desire to be Alabama, yet the ‘we’re Georgia, we are better than that’ sentiment still lurks in the “but…” of every sentence out of our mouths. We claim Mark Richt’s firing was a mutual decision, but we know that isn’t true. The excitement comes from what should be perfect fits: Kirby Smart the alum, Jacob Eason the savior, Jim Chaney the perfect OC for a defensive coach…but let’s stop living in denial.
Tennessee: The favorites* to win the East this year. But they’ve been irrelevant for a full decade, Butch Jones systematically covers up rapes, and, let’s be honest…he hasn’t won shit.
Butthurt. Delicious Butthurt.
LSU: Underperforming because Cam Cameron still exists, and the defense for all its talent is prone to month-long slumbers. The botched Les Miles firing was insane, and anything less than 10 wins will lead to more absurdity on the Bayou.
South Carolina: They hired Will Muschamp. The inferiority complex of the fanbase exists in droves and will forever continue to do so. I don’t have them high enough on the butthurt scale. Oh well.
Ole Miss: We all know its gonna hit the fan here.
Auburn and Texas A&M: I couldn’t really separate them, yet they’re here for completely different reasons. With Auburn, the ‘you came within a play of a national championship’ honeymoon period is ending for Gus Malzahn. They’re my SEC Georgia Tech though– they exceed expectations when nobody’s looking and fall flat on their face when everyone is– and they could move on the scale (while, obviously, still leading the country in non-Ohio-State-or-Notre-Dame butthurt). AND they made the term popular.
A&M just feels like its on the verge of collapse. There was QB-gate, Golden Boy Manziel busting in the NFL, the loss of yet another 1st-round O-lineman, and a still-pretty-sorry defense. And Texas always looms.
It speaks to the passion of the SEC that so few fanbases can claim to be legitimately, unabashedly excited about their football programs. It also speaks to the absurdity of their expectations. Remember this next time you start the S-E-C chant at a bowl game: we are a weird, insular, and prideful group of people.