Blanchat: A field guide to SEC fans

Oct. 27, 2011, 1:45 a.m.

Can you hear them coming?

Sometimes they bark like dogs, other times they squeal like swine. Can you smell them? High-priced perfume mixed with cigarettes, bourbon and Natural Light?

That’s right, the SEC has caught wind of the No. 4 Stanford Cardinal football team–and the SEC fans are getting a little scared.

In the last couple of weeks, the Cardinal has started to impress the national media with an ever-expanding streak of blowout wins. As you probably know by now, Stanford has beaten its last 10 opponents by 25 points or more–the first streak of its kind since Franklin Roosevelt was president. Now the national media is paying attention, saying that the Cardinal can “hang with the SEC’s best” and “may well match up better with LSU or Alabama than most teams.”

Of course, the notion that Stanford could challenge teams from the undisputed best conference in college football ever known to man means that the fans in the Southeast are going to do everything they can to debunk this notion. If you look at one question in this week’s Sports Illustrated college football mailbag, you’ll see that Todd from Tuscaloosa says, “We cannot afford angry fans from Indianapolis or Miami descending upon our towns after Andrew Luck gets hurt in his first-ever game against a real defense.”

As much as I appreciate any jokes about how bad the Dolphins and Colts are, there’s an interesting point to be made here–Stanford and the SEC are essentially total strangers to one another.

Stanford has only played five football games against SEC competition in its history, and it hasn’t played a squad from the south since the 1978 Bluebonnet Bowl, when head coach Bill Walsh led the Cardinal to a 25-22 victory over the Georgia Bulldogs.

So in these next few weeks, when all eyes will be turned to the LSU-Alabama showdown, it’s probably for the best that Stanford fans get familiar with just who these crazy SEC fans are and learn how to interact with them in the case that the Cardinal does face off with the Tigers or Tide down the road.

As an Arkansas native, I’ve gotten to know these fans pretty well, and I imagine that you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Who are these people? Why are they so obsessed with college football? Can’t we all just get along? Do LSU fans really smell like corn dogs?”

So here are a few critical things that you should know about SEC fans.

1. They will argue about absolutely anything. A great way to make an SEC football fan upset is to say that the SEC is not the best conference in college football. It’s not true, but back your argument up by talking about the 2009 Sugar Bowl, when Utah dominated Alabama, 31-17. It’s amusing to watch fans bend over backwards to defend Bama getting trounced by saying that they “didn’t care about the game anyway.” Another good one is to suggest that Boise State would be able to go undefeated playing an SEC schedule, but be prepared to get insulted if you pursue either argument.

2. They love conspiracy, controversy and coup d’états. Why do you think Cam Newton’s pay-for-play scandal was such a big story? Even though “everybody cheats,” SEC fans will be damned before they see a cheater play for another school. Additionally, they love to set unreal expectations for their teams so that they can call for their coach to be fired every year.

3. They come from all walks of life. The tailgating scene around Stanford is pretty much homogenous outside of the students–it’s all old people drinking red wine and chatting idly in lawn chairs. In the SEC, it’s people doing anything and everything imaginable. Sure, there are people wearing sleeveless shirts and jorts (or even no shirt at all), but they’ll be shoulder-to-shoulder with fraternity pledges wearing suits and middle-aged guys who scream way too loud and wear coaches’ polo shirts.

4. If provoked, they can be terrifying. LSU fans are the scariest people I have ever met in my life. They get scarily drunk, yell “Tiger Bait” at men, women and children who support the opposing team and make for the wildest gameday atmospheres ever. If you meet an LSU fan, try to befriend him or her.

5. They all hate Tim Tebow (except for Florida fans). See, even fans in Pac-12 territory have something in common with your neighbors to the South! But seriously, everybody hates Tim Tebow.

So there you go, Stanford fans, a few things to think about as we come down to the exciting second half of the college football season, and a few things to be prepared for if the Cardinal end up facing off against one of those SEC teams–teams with the wildest, rowdiest, most unusual and interesting fan bases in America.

As a native of SEC territory, Jack Blanchat knows a thing or two about how to have a proper tailgate. See if he’ll teach you the Little Rock Bounce at blanchat “at” or follow him on Twitter @jmblanchat.

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