It's Thanksgiving and time to count our many blessings, SEC Banter style. Join me as we give thanks for the traditions that make the SEC the nation's finest football conference.
I'm thankful for the passion that is SEC football. From College Station, Texas to Columbia, S.C. and every SEC college town in between, the passion runs deep. Occasionally too deep, perhaps. But it's real, honest and pure, and it's not replicated anywhere outside of the SEC.
I'm thankful that at this year's BCS championship game, we'll hear - for the seventh straight year - prideful "SEC!" cheers from the stands. You think Big 10 fans spontaneously break out in similar cheers for their conference? Think again.
I'm thankful that CBS play-by-play man Verne Lundquist says "Oh! My! Goodness!" on almost every good play, that he makes innocent gaffes throughout the broadcast, and for the CBS theme song that plays at the beginning of every SEC game. The song triggers an almost Pavlovian reflex: hit the fridge and hit the couch in a hurry. It's Saturday afternoon and time for SEC football.
I'm thankful that the conference is chock-full of head coaches with larger than life personalities. You just can't make up characters like Steve Spurrier, Les Miles, Will Muschamp, and Nick Saban. Please, please let Tennessee hire Jon Gruden.
I'm thankful that what when bands across the South strike up their famous tunes, whether it's Rocky Top, Glory Glory, The Aggie War Hymn or any other SEC fight song, the reaction from tried-and-true fans is uniform: chills up and down the spine.
I'm thankful that SEC football makes for strange bedfellows. One week, you're pulling for your team to beat an archrival. The next, you're pulling just as passionately for your archrival to beat someone else because it helps your team. I wonder how often this type of exchange plays out in SEC households: "But we hate Florida, right daddy?" "Yes, son, and I'm proud of you for learning one of life's great lessons. But this week and this week only, we love Florida!"
I'm thankful that, because the SEC game-day experience is so special, you can have a ball at a game that doesn't involve your favorite team. If you're a Florida fan, for example, go to a South Carolina vs. Georgia game. Sit back, relax, take in the sights and sounds without any pressure and hope for both teams to lose. It's fun!
I'm thankful that the SEC is home to by far the best-looking fans in the country. And, to be clear, by "fans," SEC Banter means girls.
I'm thankful for SEC tailgate food. Give me chicken-on-a-stick from the Chevron Food Mart in Oxford, roast beef poboys from Pastime in Baton Rouge, and fall-off-the-bone BBQ from the original Dreamland in Tuscaloosa. Food is synonymous with college football everywhere. Exceptionally good food is synonymous with SEC football.
I'm thankful that SEC fans always come back for more.
We've all told ourselves after a tough loss that we're done, we can't take it anymore, enough with investing so much time, energy and emotion into our team.
Then that CBS theme song comes on and we return for more of what we love - SEC football.
I'm thankful that all of these traditions and countless others combine to create more than just a collection of football teams across the Southeast. They create a way of life.
Happy Thanksgiving and, regardless of whether your team is playing for championships or pride, let's give thanks for the SEC.
Ben Prevost is a contributing columnist for The Covington News. Follow him on Twitter @SECbanter or contact him at SECbanter@hotmail.com.