5. What Makes Football in the South Different?
RCS: While we're talking about younger kids, even though your book focuses on Tennessee football, it also occasionally examines the larger world of college football as a whole. A particular passage that struck a chord with us was when you brought your son, Fox, to a Volunteer game for the first time. "We come to watch college football games and root for out teams not because we need to see them win but because it's part of who we are. In the South, college football is in our blood."
What is it about SEC football, and football in the South, that makes it different than anything else?
Travis: Well, excluding major league baseball most sports leagues in this country aren't very old. We aren't a very old country for one thing. At the end of every NFL season comes the Super Bowl. But the first Super Bowl didn't even happen until 1967. My dad, my own dad, was already 23 when that happened! Yet the way the Super Bowl gets covered nowadays, it's like the event has been with us since the Pilgrims. The reality is, it's still really new.
SEC football began in 1933. And Southerners have considered it our own since before that time. And college football was very popular even before that, way back to the turn of the century. So I think SEC football is unique because it truly links generations down here.
Fox, my son, is named after my grandfather who played for General Neyland in 1933. I was raised a UT fan; UT football is literally in my blood. It's in Fox's. Other regions of the country don't have that relationship with football. The NFL came late to the South. It's a birthright down here in a way that I don't think any other sport in the country but major league baseball can even compare. It's also regional in a way that major league baseball isn't, the teams really aren't that far apart geographically, it's like baseball before World War II.
Then take a step back and imagine that baseball's 162 games were distilled into 12 Saturdays. No playoffs. 12 games. Can you imagine how crazy that would be? You can if you come South for a game.