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Tennessee Writer- Internet, Radio, spiteful fans hurting SEC
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calling_the_hogs Offline
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Like FOX News says... I post, you decide.
This article is by Jimmy Hyams in Knoxville, TN.
Comments to his report... jhyams@hallsnews.com

SEC fans hurt the sport

I’m concerned about the SEC.

I’m not so concerned that seven SEC schools have been accused of running afoul of NCAA rules within the past year.

I’m not so concerned that the SEC has a rogue reputation nationwide.

I’m concerned about the behavior of SEC fans. That’s right, the behavior of SEC fans.

Over the past 10 years, the SEC fan has become more obnoxious, more arrogant, more spiteful, and more vengeful than ever before. He has become abrasive, all-knowing, inconsiderate, self-righteous and indignant.

Not all SEC fans are like this, but the legion is growing.

You see venom dripping from their fangs as they spout accusation after accusation at opposing teams. They don’t need evidence that coach Snake N. Grass is cheating. They just know. They believe what they want to believe, never mind truth or evidence.

As former Alabama coach Gene Stallings might say: "That bothers me."

It bothers me because SEC fans might just tear this conference apart, just as Southwest Conference fans left a trial of slime all over the SWC. As you might recall, the SWC had seven of its eight teams on NCAA probation at the same time. Arkansas was the escapee, and that might be because the Razorbacks were in another state.

The SWC is no more, swallowed up by a merger with the Big 12.

One factor that led to the demise of the SWC was the fact that member schools kept turning each other in to the NCAA. Many of the snitches were fans.

I’m not suggesting the SEC is about to go bottom up. But it could have numerous teams on NCAA probation at the same time. It could enhance its reputation as the dirtiest conference in the country if the many allegations of wrongdoing at several schools prove true.

I don’t like the direction the SEC is going. And I don’t like the attitude of many fans.

Tennessee fans chuckled when Alabama was nailed with a two-year bowl ban and scholarship reductions by the NCAA, confident there was nothing under the Big Orange rock.

Many Alabama fans vowed revenge, feeling UT coach Phillip Fulmer turned in the Crimson Tide. In truth, about five other SEC teams besides Tennessee blew the whistle on Alabama’s recruiting shenanigans in Memphis.

Now, Tennessee has been found guilty of NCAA violations regarding Eric Locke, with the possibility of more bad news regarding the Tee Martin situation. Juicy Locke promises he has more up his slimy sleeves. Who knows if more is to come?

I’ve received numerous e-mails from Alabama fans who are convinced the SEC Office – commissioner Roy Kramer, in particular – is protecting Tennessee.

Why? Why do they believe this? Why would Kramer protect Tennessee any more than he would Alabama or Georgia or Florida or LSU? Kramer isn’t a graduate of UT, he never coached or worked at UT, he’s not a UT donor. What would be his motive?

Many in the Alabama media have chimed in. In fact, a few Alabama sportswriters have taken shots at the Tennessee media, insinuating that some who cover the Vols are "homers" who put a Big Orange spin on any charge made against UT.

Alabama fans claim the SEC Office told nine other SEC teams not to recruit Albert Means, but didn’t tell Alabama. A setup, cried Crimson Tide fans.

Tide fans also say that NCAA investigators, during the course of interviewing Alabama football players, learned of cheating by Tennessee, but told the players they were only interested in what Alabama did – not Tennessee.

Why would an NCAA investigator take such a stance? Is the conspiracy wagon that big?

Alabama fans feel their program is guilty until proven innocent, but that Tennessee is innocent until proven guilty.

Unfortunately, the Tennessee-Alabama rivalry – once built on mutual respect – is being measured by piles of manure thrown at each other.

My problem with the SEC isn’t limited to Tennessee-Alabama. Tennessee and Florida fans have been at each others’ throats for years. Florida fans have thrown cups of urine on UT fans. Florida fans claim they’ve had vehicles vandalized on trips to Knoxville. LSU athletic director Skip Bertman is so upset about complaints aimed at Tiger fans, he wants to install cameras to catch perpetrators in the stands.

I think two things have led to poorer behavior by fans: Talk radio and the Internet.

Talk radio gives fans a forum to vent and rip. Some of it is aimed at their own team. Most of it is aimed at the opposition. Unfortunately, some sports talk-show hosts stir the pot and feed off this frenzy.

Many of these same fans send the nastiest notes on Internet message boards, saying things they wouldn’t dare say to someone’s face. It’s amazing how brave some people are behind a keyboard.

This lack of respect and decency has led to more animosity among fans.

Suddenly, Florida fans despise Georgia fans because of a few negative posts by Gator Hater. Tennessee Stud has attacked Alabama Insider. Kentucky Blue Grass is telling Auburn War Eagle to wait until basketball season. And Rebel Rouser swears to Bayou Bill that LSU players are on the take.

Folks, all this finger pointing and verbal abuse isn’t healthy.

I would hope that many of these fans who show such disdain for one another would take a deep breathe and realize they’re taking all this sports stuff too seriously.

But I’m afraid that once these horses are out of the gate, it might be too late to corral them.
05-21-2002 10:08 AM
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