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SEC Banter: Broaden your non-SEC horizons
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Forsyth County News

Each week I consult my handy SEC helmet schedule when deciding the topic for SEC Banter.  The schedule shows every game for every SEC team using helmets. It’s fantastic to view an entire SEC football season on a single sheet of paper, and I have to admit that the little helmets are kinda cute.

But as much as I like the helmet schedule, I have an idea to improve it. Teams should be represented by pictures of fans instead of helmets. 

Each SEC school selects one fan that embodies their football team. For example, Alabama would choose a middle-aged psychopath man from nowhere Alabama who did not attend the University of Alabama but nonetheless measures his self-worth and happiness based entirely on Crimson Tide football.   

On second thought, let’s stick with the helmet schedule. 

The trusty helmet schedule displays just two conference games on tap this Saturday -- Tennessee at Florida and Auburn at LSU. Historically classic matchups but, with the Vols and War Eagles/Plainsmen/Tigers in rebuilding mode, the contests lack their usual luster this year. 

Such a light SEC schedule means less SEC Banter to go around. What to do?

Let’s broaden our horizons. We Southerners catch a bad rap for being too, well, Southern, with a constant focus on everything SEC. Certainly we’d benefit from learning a thing or two about the fine non-SEC institutions on this week’s schedule.

The following are SEC Banter’s deep, highly meaningful and sometimes slightly offensive thoughts about this week’s slate of out-of-conference opponents.

North Texas at Georgia. The Bulldogs should count their lucky stars that this game is in Athens.  According to the North Texas University website, every time the "Mean Green" take the field in Denton, Texas, the announcer yells and the crowd cheers, "Heeeeeeeere come the Mean Green!" 

UGA would wither in such an intimidating environment. 

Also, the "Mean Green" mascot is, naturally, an eagle. Eagles are scary enough on their own but throw in a green eagle that’s also mean? Look out.

Missouri at Indiana. I’m not convinced that Indiana actually fields a football team. Have you ever witnessed Indiana play football? Didn’t think so.

When I hear "Indiana" my first thought is 1986’s classic movie about basketball and self-belief in the heartland, "Hoosiers." And, since Indiana hasn’t won a Big 10 conference title in football in 46 years, I have to imagine Indiana fans think the same way.

Vanderbilt at UMass. Why on earth is Vanderbilt traveling to Boston to play a football game against UMass? Aside from mining the fertile recruiting grounds of the Northeast -- cough -- there is no upside to Vandy playing this game. 

Of all the elitist Boston-based schools that occasionally play tackle football, I confess I did not know UMass was one of them. Just a hunch, but I suspect UMass turns out far more limousine liberals than football fans.

Colorado State at Alabama. Colorado State has helmets just like the NFL’s St. Louis Rams. The school is located in Colorado, I believe. That’s it.

Arkansas at Rutgers. Another strange one with an SEC team heading up north, this time to beautiful New Jersey. I’m picturing Arkansas fans in jerseys in Jersey (sorry, couldn’t resist) rambunctiously "Calling the Hogs" by yelling "Woooooooooo, Pig! Sooie!" Excellent SEC ambassadors, those Hogs fans are.

Troy at Mississippi State. Troy was formerly known as Troy State but someone decided plain-old Troy was better. I’m confident that dropping the "State" did wonders for the school’s enrollment, brand recognition, and overall prestige.

It may have even brought the Confucius Institute to campus. That’s right, the Confucius Institute in Troy, Alabama. According to Troy’s website, the Confucius Institute is a rich resource for students eager to gain valuable Chinese language training and exposure to Chinese culture and business exchange. Who knew?

SMU at Texas A&M. After the Aggies lost last week’s thriller to ‘Bama, they get a recovery game against the ponies of SMU. Seems that SMU was more successful at football when, drunk off oil money in the early 1980s, boosters paid SMU’s players handsomely. After the NCAA honchoed SMU with the "death penalty" by banishing the entire football program, money has totally ceased to influence big-time college football.

Enjoy Saturday’s light lineup of conference games. In the meantime, I’ve been invited to speak at UMass about how SEC football is woven into the cultural fabric of life here in the South.  They’re sending a limousine to pick me up from the airport. Wish me luck!

Ben Prevost is a contributing columnist for the Forsyth County News. Follow him on Twitter @SECbanter or contact him at