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A Valentine's Wish, For the SEC and Big Ten

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If not for you, winter would have no spring
I couldn't hear the robins sing
I just wouldn't have a clue
Anyway it wouldn't ring true
If not for you

- - -

A new-ish reader e-mailed me this week, a Big Ten fan, bewildered and alienated by the characteristic aloofness of the SEC. The Southeastern and Big Ten are soulmates by nature, lately the SEC has grown arrogant, preening, disrespectful of the Big Ten as a conference. The years of taunts, chants and jeers finally crossed the line.

You say 'potato,' I say, 'protect the integrity of the bowl system.' Let's call the whole thing off?

- - -
I got into this mess last year, to no avail, and my only advice now is: Give it time, man. If the SEC needs its space, let it go. It'll be back. They always come back. Once those oats are sown, it will wake up from another Liberty Bowl tryst with Conference USA with a splitting headache and a new tatoo and look at itself in C-USA's dingy mirror and think, "There's more to being a hegemonic super conference that this."

Sometime after that, the Big Ten and SEC will find themselves at home again on Saturday night, alone, after even the MAC said it was busy. And then later they'll stagger out feeling sorry for themselves, and randomly bump into one another at the old bar where they first met (it was called "The Citrus" then, or something, before downtown got all corporate). They'll be defensive, at first, contending they're only there as a lower seed, and it's not, like a routine. But the games won't last long, when they swallow their pride, start catching up, laughing until the bartender says, "Time to get a room," or something to that effect, and they realize all over again how perfect they really are for each other, and how empty life is when you're apart from the one you belong with. That's when you'll know it's for real.

Because no matter how many rivalries you share with the ACC, or how many bowl tie-ins you negotiate with the Pac Ten, when it comes together - when it's just right - that's when you know. It's that certain glimmer in their eye, a subtle quiver in your voice, the din of a small city packed inside of a towering concrete shrine wafting from miles away, that barely perceptible little way they perfectly complement your head-to-head record in bowl games over the last eleven years. It's only a matter of time before Mike Slive and Jim Delaney gaze longingly into each other's eyes and whisper, breathlessly, "You complete me."

Happy Valentine's Day, you crazy kids.