Wiedmer: Should SEC fans root for Bama?

Wiedmer: Should SEC fans root for Bama?

January 7th, 2013 by Mark Wiedmer in Sportscolumns

Alabama Crimson Tide logo

Fourteen SEC football fans, none of them Alabama backers. One question to each: Which team are you rooting for in tonight's BCS title game between Bama and Notre Dame?

Could a Tennessee Volniac or Georgia Dawg really cheer for the Crimson Tide to win its third national championship in four years?

Or would they instead embrace the Fighting Irish, never a favorite throughout the South, but quite often Kryptonite when it comes to bringing down SuperBam?

Faced with choosing between twin enemies, could all these Southerners (at least all but one) actually subscribe to the Chinese proverb "The enemy of my enemy is my friend," rightfully concerned that another Tide title could further the growing distance between Bama and the rest of the league?

"I guess I'd like to see Alabama win," said Brian Tate, a 2010 UT grad who often pumps up the crowd at Big Orange basketball games. "But only because they're an SEC team."

Fellow Volniac and 2007 UT grad Johnny Buchanan, like Tate a Knoxville resident, will also back the Tide.

"And if Bama wins, I hope [Tide coach] Nick Saban will leave. I don't care where, I just want him to leave the SEC."

Then there's Lentz Reynolds, also a Big Orange backer, but a longtime Bama hater, as well.

Voicing an opinion surely shared by many throughout the country, Reynolds said, "I'm just watching a college football game tomorrow night. I can't stand Notre Dame and I don't like Alabama."

Of the 14 folks who were interviewed, 11 sided with Bama, mostly because the Tide can deliver the SEC a seventh straight national championship.

As for one of the three who said they'd be pulling for the Irish, former Notre Dame basketball great John Shumate believes all his support will be for naught against the Tide.

"I'm so proud of my Irish," said Shumate, the Phoenix Suns scout who was a crucial member of the ND team that halted UCLA's 88-game winning streak in 1974.

"They've had a great, great season. But I'm afraid Alabama plays on another level. I just don't see Alabama losing this game."

Not an hour after Shumate offered that opinion during Friday's Memphis-Tennessee game, current UT guard Jordan McRae said he'd be backing Alabama, "Because they always have the best players."

The Tide probably does have the best team. It's a 9.5-point favorite in Las Vegas, and while the odds makers sometimes get it way wrong -- think Florida being a 14-point favorite over Louisville in the Sugar Bowl -- it doesn't happen often.

But there's also always been something magical about the luck of the Irish against the Tide. ND was 2-0 against Bear Bryant in bowl games. These Irish seem similarly kissed by destiny.

The American Heart Association's Emily Fuller is so psyched to watch her Irish that she plans to have her baby Tuesday in order to view the game away from a maternity ward.

Finally, there's Katelyn Armstrong. Her father backs Tennessee. Her mother cheers for Georgia. Her friend Brandon Robertson is an Alabama student.

"I'm for Notre Dame," said the Mercer sophomore, "because I don't want to have to listen to Brandon gloat all year if Bama wins."

Now that's more like it.