Road Trippin' to the SEC
Hittin' the road? Be sure you're headed to the best places
Posted: Monday September 19, 2005 7:34PM; Updated: Thursday September 22, 2005 2:18PM
Which do you prefer: calendar babes or Southern belles? Alternative rock or bluegrass? Football in a Swamp or Death Valley? Having trouble deciding? Then join SIOC on a tour of the SEC, home to all of that as well as fierce rivalries and raucous tailgates. And the odyssey doesn't end here--in each issue SIOC will drop in on a new conference to rank, from top to bottom, the schools to hit.
(Click on the school name for more info.)
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You can always hear a banjo playing in Knoxville, or at least that's how it feels. From the bluegrass joints on the Strip to the ceaseless renditions of Rocky Top on game day, guitar's country cousin is the ideal accompaniment to a weekend in eastern Tennessee. But if you only think of Knoxville as a place that puts the "hick" in hickory, you're missing out. Football weekends do not get better than this.
Baton Rouge is Cajun for "drunken stupor." Not true, but after a weekend here, you won't be sure. Cajuns love their food, their fun and their football. Saturday nights are a jambalaya of all three, and Death Valley (real name: Tiger Stadium), the only stadium we know of that has numbers marking the gridiron every five yards, is the bowl in which it is served. Les bonnes temps rouler! Geaux Tigers!
Now that the FireRonZook.com bloggers have been appeased, what is there to do in Gainesville? Everything. No college town does a better job of combining the most appealing aspects of spring break (a women of UF calendar begs the question, Why aren't there more months in a year?) and the excitement of a college football weekend. A stalwart on any magazine's "Most Livable City" list, Gainesville will benefit even further the Urban renewal taking place this season. If you're looking for a romp, head to the Swamp.
It's a rhetorical question: "How 'bout them Dogs?" which translates to "We love Georgia!" Well, then, how 'bout a music scene with an unparalleled place in the alternative rock landscape? How 'bout Sanford Stadium, which is wedged into the heart of campus like a serving of grits on an overstuffed breakfast plate? How 'bout "between the hedges," a three-word GPS for anyone who follows college football? How 'bout a college town that embraces the arts while also remaining true to legends of yesteryear such as Herschel Walker and Frank Sinkwich? How 'bout Athens?
In Birmingham they love the governor ("ooh, ooh, ooh!"), but in Tuscaloosa they live the Crimson Tide. No Southern school is more steeped in football legend, whether it be that of Bear Bryant, Joe Willie Namath or even Forrest Gump. And as for tradition? Twelve national titles, an NCAA-record 29 bowl victories and the simplest helmets this side of Happy Valley make the Capstone (as the campus is also known) a purist's paradise. More than that, Alabama feels like home. Sweet home.