There are perks to being king in a state whose insitutions of higher learning are governed by a process committed to perpetuating that unrivaled status, at the expense of all other local challengers if necessary. But it has its discomforts, too: take reigning uncontested in Louisiana, for instance, which after decades has left LSU in the uniquely hollow position of forging on without a natural rival.
And what kind of school - what kind of SEC school, at that - plays without a tried and true object of eternal spite? Vanderbilt? Certainly Louisianans don't care for Auburn, they hold a grudge of sorts against Florida, they really don't like Ole Miss, but that's just contempt bred by familiarity; it's not a legitimate, year-round hatred forged in the blood of ancient antagonists and the seizure of farm equipment and stuff. Hell, the rest of the country doesn't even know how much LSU fans hate Ole Miss, even Ole Miss might not recognize this, and the Rebels still have Mississippi State, after all. What does LSU play for, a trophy whose only significance is based entirely on the political boundaries of states that otherwise mostly ignore one another? Enough of these petty, short-lived regional squabbles that exist for a week, two weeks prior to and after a meeting, and then lie dormant as the opposition moves on to its real hate-based passions: real rivals foster an inviolable, tumor-generating contempt deep in the bowels of their partisans, and could conceivably inspire actual warfare along color-coded lines under the proper circumstances. LSU has nothing like this.
But you can't pick just anyone to be your rival. A true rival has to be close. It has to be someone you play every year, and have played for a long time, and can ipso facto inspire a seething passion in anyone associated with either school in any potential setting. The rival's reciprocal malice is required as well, a rival also has to hate you back, to some degree - it can't just be some one-sided antipathy directed at a mere nemesis to whom you're just another good team on the schedule. It has to have committed some heinous act that disregards or devalues everything for which your program stands and holds sacrosanct, some misdeed so foul it inspires genuine hatred bordering on - occasionally surpassing the bounds of - insanity, and is the source of a pathological drive for the most violent retribution allowed by local statutes. In certain cases, screw the law, in fact. And to make sure it's a really for real rivalry, officially, it must be declared:
Such a declaration has been brewing since Alabama chose former LSU coach Nick Saban as its top man Jan. 3, an announcement that riled the Tigers faithful. Miles, true to form, has remained low key, almost nonchalant, about that hire, but Wednesday, simmering over vague allegations of Crimson Tide recruiting "irregularities," he let loose.
"We went down to the Sugar Bowl this year with no real rival," he told a fired-up crowd at the River Center. "We look forward to playing Florida, certainly, and we look forward to playing Auburn, certainly."
Then, his voice rising, his finger jabbing, and his mouth in an emotional rictus, Miles brought the crowd to its feet, roaring, in anticipation.
"But we found a big time rival in the Crimson Tide!" he shouted.
It was a discovery 114 seasons and 70 all-time matchups in the making, but an inevitable one. At last: LSU. Alabama. This time, it's
personal professional, in the broad sense of defining appropriate ethics concerning hiring practices among competing institutions. SMQ anticipates the contract signing for this cage match on an upcoming episode of SEC West RAW.
Les "The Animal" Miles isn't sure he can wait till November 11 for his shot at Saban. Watch your back, jabroni.
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Inspired, SMQ moves to declare his own rival. Since most blogs are beholden to teams with their own rivals, it has to be a site with a national focus. It has to be a site SMQ can rail against, who has unwittingly committed some barely perceptible slight that can be blown into a brazen, intentional trangression and pushed to absurd levels of unjustified malcontent. And run by some dude in really gay sunglasses.
So watch your back, Doug Walker, because SMQ found a big time rival in Every Game Counts! That's, right, SMQ is calling you out! Do they really? Does every game count? North Texas-Florida Atlantic? Huh? Does that game "count"? What a crock. Like the interview you did with SMQ in October didn't "count" as an entry from one of your "celebrity guest bloggers." Joe Taylor from Hampton U. is a "celebrity" but SMQ isn't? You think Joe Taylor gets recognized on the street? Well, look what happened! SMQ took you down for Best National Blog and he'll take you down again! SMQ owns you! You and your "celebrity guests"! It's not SMQ, so EGC must be SMQ bait! Bring it, Walker, you bum!
Awww, you are so going down.
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• Related: Dictionary.com entry for "jabroni" (SMQ did not know this).