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Introducing SEC Week: Underlying Literary Themes in the SEC

The Individual in Society
Society and a person's inner nature are always at war.
In spite of the pressure to be among people, an individual is essentially alone and frightened.
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It wasn't always this way, but for years now, Vanderbilt has been the John Quincy Adams of the SEC, the distinguished, pedigreed gentleman of a bygone era, overwhelmed and held hostage by the democratic transfer of power to the less educated public, whose emphasis on the mind was hijacked and turned into a bludgeon for proponents of the "natural man," eventually compelled by the surrounding culture to hide its true nature or fade into obsolesence. The fight has been a sustained one, but never destined for anything better than failure as long as it disdains the crass enterprise of the opposition for satisfaction in esoteric principle and graduation rates.

But if Vanderbilt would be more at home among some bizarro Ivy League with Duke, Northwesetern, Rice, Tulane and the like, it has made some adjustments to the vulgar reality of its predicament; as the university is simultaneously the smallest and wealthiest school in the SEC, its ethos of maximizing per student resources has carried over to its athletic department, which counterintuitively spends more money per athlete, male and female, than any other school in America. It's nothing but the best for Commodore athletes. They're just not the best athletes.

The role of the individual's inner nature in society as it relates to Tim Tebow: Society, like, couldn't be more eager to relate to Tim Tebow's inner nature:

There is no limit to Tebow's capacity for friendship and giving...

Growth and Initiation
Aspects of childhood are retained in all of us, sometimes hindering growth.
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In Les Miles' first game an SEC head coach, against Tennessee back in `05, with the game tied in the fourth quarter and a few seconds on the clock, LSU picked off a pass that set it up with a chance to make a quick throw or two and win with a field goal. It was potentially a crucial, game-winning play, and in his excitement, Miles tried to call his team's last timeout, though the clock was stopped (this was pre-3-2-5-e) and LSU had to have the timeout for a chance to kick. Assistants restrained him, and despite Tennessee's win in overtime, I attributed his astounding loss of cool to a momentary lapse.

But I've been reminded of that moment again and again over the offseason, during Miles' one-man pissing match with old mythical title/Joe McKnight recruiting rival USC, a team that bears no bearing on LSU's chances to win the SEC or play for the mythical championship, and especially in his expletive-laced tirade against Alabama, which he unilaterally declared LSU's new "big time rival," WWF style. In six months, Miles has built his reputation as a petulant hothead who either a) feels the need to lash out to compensate for his insecurity in the shadow of his balleyhooed predecessor, or b) is a firm believer in a Bush-like doctrine of preemption, hell bent on an overwhelming show of force that commands respect in far flung lands and disregards the penalties of hubris. With comparable weaponry at his disposal, Miles should hope his tough rhetoric prior to engagement ends better than all that.

Manhood is often established by an abrupt, random crisis, sometimes at an unusually early age.
A person grows only in so far as he or she must face a crisis of confidence or identity.
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In the same game referenced above, Erik Ainge suffered his own breakdown in the first half, of a much greater magnitude, ending in a stunning, no-look toss out of his own end zone into the grateful arms of Kenneth Hollis, putting LSU up three touchdowns and signalling the sophomore's total submission to the pressures of his position. Ainge barely played in the last nine games, and led losses to South Carolina and Notre Dame when he did. His face was recorded for future textbooks on crises of confidence in upper adolescence:

I think it will be to his enduring credit, then, that Ainge came back to win eight of the ten games he really played in last year, one of the losses by a point to the eventual mythical champion, and that he returns as the only stable element of Tennessee's offense, and therefore one of the conference's most indispensible players. The no huddle that's rumored to make up a significant portionof the Vols' upcoming game requires Ainge to be "a coach on the field," which couldn't be further from where he was two years ago, when it wasn't certain he had it in him to shoulder anything.

There are many ways for Tennessee to fail, but continued competence from Ainge is its only forseeable path to success.

Growth and Initiation as it relates to Tim Tebow: Tim Tebow sprung fully formed from the skull of John Elway. He has never suffered a crisis of confidence. Tim Tebow's childhood is lived vicariously through others' interpretations of his great works:

Alienation
Modern culture is defective because it doesn't provide group ties which in primitive cultures makes alienation virtually impossible.
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For anyone desiring proof that Arkansas is not, in fact, a primitive culture, see only its failure to cohere to any ties as a group, and its melodramatic tendency for the last eight months to produce nothing but alienation: Damian Williams felt alienated, Gus Malzahn felt alienated, Mitch Mustain felt alienated, and so all three alienated themselves from their home state for fresh starts to the west. The program itself alienated rabid e-mailer Teresa Prewett, a move that alienated certain segments of the fan base, who then alienated themselves from reality via the most overwrought and litigious means possible, thus leaving Houston Nutt somewhat alienated from his wife.

They do all, however, still agree that Darren McFadden is one fast tranny.

Alienation as it relates to Tim Tebow: If Tim Tebow occasionally feels alienated from his adoring public, it's only because he suspects their well-meaning but feeble minds fail to grasp the complexity of his true, infallible brilliance: