SEC Outsider: "America's Conference" looks to NASCAR as it tries to left-turn the early season around

The SEC playing football at a NASCAR track might be the most perfect union ever of sport, culture, sweat, pork rinds, beer and religion.

It’s like a shotgun marriage between a fried banana and peanut butter sandwich. I only wish Elvis was alive to eat it.

Tennessee and Virginia Tech are facing off Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway where the border cuts right through Tennessee and Virginia. The event is expected to draw a collegiate-record 150,000 tank tops.

“Show us your…um, TICKETS!”

The game could only be more Southern if the teams were playing on a giant artificial-grass portrait of Kenny Chesney. We have to assume that, unlike oval track racing, the wide receivers will be allowed to make right turns.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

The game was immaculately conceived back in 2013 to celebrate, basically, two of the most import things to Southern folks. It’s being billed as “The Battle at Bristol” in a venue NASCAR has dubbed as “the last Great Colosseum.”

We all have our impressions of Rome a millennium ago, so maybe the question now is: what will people think of US in a thousand years?

Those of us who watch UCLA play in the half-filled Rose Bowl can only stand back and marvel at the lengths the South will go to televise and promote their passions.

To be honest, though, we thought LAST week was a car wreck for the SEC.

Good people are already starting to sweat Valvoline in anticipation of this clash of the Tennessee Vols, not the Titans.

This event conjures every unfair stereotype of the South—but they asked for it.

Getting the football field ready took the kind of man power a God-fearing community might otherwise utilize to repair a damaged bridge. It took 11,000 tons of rock and sand over eight days to build a playing field on a short-track.

In God’s book of building, that would amount to two full days of overtime pay.

There will be 240 tour buses standing by to shuttle people to the hallowed grounds. Imagine if the states below Mason-Dixon pumped this kind of time and energy into highway infrastructure, or their children’s education systems?

There we west-coasters go again, butting our heads into other peoples’ business, forgetting the unalienable promise of life, liberty, open carry and the pursuit of college football attendance records.

Oh, well, there is no turning back now. Gentlemen, start your pulled-pork smokers.

The only thing left to do now is burp.

 GRITS AND BITS

Damage assessment: OK, it’s bad. The AGFC (America’s Greatest Football Conference) went 7-7 on weekend one and that included three party-pooper wins: Tennessee (OT) over Appalachian State, Arkansas (one-point) over Louisiana Tech and Florida over Massachusetts. The Gators only led, 10-7, at home, in the fourth quarter.

Louisiana State’s loss against Wisconsin in Green Bay can be mitigated so long as the Badgers don’t end up 6-6, but there’s no denying the intensifying heat on Les Miles, who says he is aware of the “perimeter, out-side-the building, opinions.”

Um, Les, there are people that want you fired and are already clamoring for a Hail Mary overture to Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher.

What they’re saying: “I can tell you they’re just like you; they’re sick, they’re miserable,” Miles said this week.

It wasn’t just a loss, as Tiger offensive lineman Josh Boutte disgraced his university and college football with that cheap shot on Wisconsin’s D’Cota Dixon during the 16-14 loss. Boutte has been suspended for this week’s game against Jacksonville State. Had Wisconsin's player not gotten up, the suspension would have reportedly been for an SEC game.

What’s next: Miles said, correctly, that there’s “nothing off the table,” in terms of LSU’s long range goals, the benefit of righting any wrong with a win over Alabama.

Oh, and don’t sleep on Jacksonville State, which beat Ole Miss in 2010 and last year took Auburn to overtime.

What’s more: Auburn’s home loss to top-five Clemson is also forgivable so long as Auburn turns out to be better than it looked.

Mississippi State’s home loss to South Alabama was a deal breaker and the Bulldogs are dead, done. Stick a cowbell in them.

Arkansas is trying to talk itself out of a loitering charge after last week’s one-point home win over Louisiana Tech. “We won, we won by one, but it’s in the record books for the rest of time,” Coach Bret Bielema said.

Don’t look now, Bret, but here comes next week’s game at Texas Christian.

What’s all the big fuss? The SEC appears down this year. Alabama is a clear-cut above the rest, although we won’t go as far as saying the Crimson Tide is to the SEC in 2016 what Florida State was to the ACC in the 1999.

Mississippi appeared to have plenty of firepower before blowing a 28-6 lead to FSU, but FSU might be really, really loaded.

What they’re in for: The rest of the SEC is mystery meat. The East had a miserable week beyond Georgia while the West is Bama, Ole Miss and maybe Texas A&M?

Johnny comes (sort of) marching home…hurrah? It was at first encouraging to hear bad-boy Johnny Manziel had re-enrolled at Texas A&M to earn the degree he failed to obtain as the team’s Heisman winning quarterback. It was discouraging to hear he will take online courses and continue to live in Los Angeles. Johnny’s major is said to be in recreation, parks and tourism sciences. He should nail the “recreation” mid-term. Manziel has been shielded and coddled his whole life—that’s part of his problem. To avoid the distractions due to his fame, he was allowed to take online courses while he was a player at Texas A&M. Maybe what Johnny needs is to get his actual butt on campus and live like the normal student he never was.

Last word: Based on the best information available at this time, USC Coach Clay Helton could become an Alabama special advisor anytime between the Stanford game and 2018.[/membership]

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