TMG College Sports is pleased to announce today it has filled the posted opening for writer to chronicle\monitor\second guess and otherwise disabuse the Southeastern Conference.
TMG elected to go in house and hire its former copy boy:
Before you cough up your grits, consider:
It's true this venerable participle dangler was born in surf's up Southern California, far from Toomer's Corner, but also true he has covered every SEC national title victory starting with Tennessee’s in 1998.
Rankman has poked his share of fun at the SEC, yet recent emails released by WikiLeaks revealed a secret, puppy-love crush for the league that concocted the BCS and then gerrymandered the system to its advantage.
A psychiatrist once told Rankman his sleights of the SEC were likely an overcompensation reflex to appease his left-coast upbringing and readership.
The Pac 12’s failure, however, to satisfactorily provide for its fans has allowed “SEC-creep” to infiltrate the hearts and minds of Southlanders from San Pedro to Pico Rivera.
“Because I have DirecTV, which doesn’t carry the Pac 12 Network, I have probably seen more SEC games in the last five years,” Rankman admitted to TMG. “I watched so much SEC on TV it almost became like Stockholm Syndrome in that I basically fell in love with my captors.”[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here. [/membership] [membership]
How bad is it out West?
Rankman went two years without seeing Colorado, Pac 12 Net’s house band, on television. He did catch the Buffaloes once on radio, in his car on the driveway, at the end of overtime against UCLA.
The next summer a writer from Boulder asked Rankman what he thought of Colorado and his honest reply was, “They sounded much improved.”
Rankman will pen a weekly column for TMG called “SEC Outsider,” an outsider’s inside look at America’s Greatest Conference (Just Ask Them).
He is well-equipped to handle this assignment. As the free-wheeling, former national college football writer for the Los Angeles Times, Rankman touched toes on every SEC campus except Missouri, which he still really doesn’t consider an SEC team. He has covered epic games at Florida, Auburn, LSU, Georgia and Alabama. He interviewed Eli Manning on campus at Ole Miss, Tim Couch on campus at Kentucky and Tim Tebow in a Los Angeles hotel room one year before the ESPYs.
Have you been in the home of John Vaught, the legendary former Ole Miss coach?
Rankman’s first-ever plane trip, in 1979, was to Baton Rouge. He was dispatched by the Cal State Fullerton Daily Titan to chronicle the national championship in women’s gymnastics.
Rankman’s favorite college player growing up?
Rankman’s favorite sherbet flavor?
Tennessee’s uniform colors.
He has visited Elvis Presley’s grave at Graceland, his birthplace in Tupelo and is not afraid in the shower to belt out Elvis’ life-concert show stopper, “American Trilogy,” which happens to begin, “Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton.”
Rankman doesn’t own a dog but, if he did, it would certainly be named “Smoky,” “Uga,” “Tebow” or “Cam.”
Even his favorite drinking cup is a "Dixie."
How more SEC can you get without putting on a pig’s nose?
The book closest to Rankman in his home office is “Southern Fried Football” by Tony Barnhart. It sits not far from books written by Willie Morris and Lewis Grizzard.
If that wasn’t enough, when Rankman covered the Los Angeles Rams in the 1980s, the team’s owner was named Georgia.
Rankman is marinated in SEC tailgate goop and has barbeque sauce shipped to him from “Dreamland” in Tuscaloosa. He deeply understands the SEC’s unquenchable passion and overriding need to be great which, it can be argued, is tied to the South’s loss in the Civil War.
Sorry, we mean “The War of Northern Aggression.”
Rankman didn’t really buy any of this Shelby Foote, psycho-babble bunk until he read in Barnhart’s book a story related to him by former Georgia Coach Vince Dooley.
Dooley recalled the emotional reaction in Athens after Georgia’s victory at Michigan in 1965.
“I didn’t just hear from Georgia people,” Dooley said, “but from people all over the South. “To go up there and invade the North and come back as a winner was the greatest thing for a lot of people. It was as if we had had the chance to go to Gettysburg again.”
General Lee, remember, could have easily led the Union Army, just as Nick Saban could have easily remained loyal to Michigan State.
Rankman has enjoyed a Forrest Gump-like seat at many seminal SEC moments. He was the Starkville press box Sept. 4, 2004, when Mississippi State’s Sylvester Croom became the SEC;s first African American head football coach.
He remembers most people thinking it seemed about time.
Rankman has sat in the offices of Steve Spurrier, Hal Mumme, David Cutcliffe, Lou Holtz, Urban Meyer and once sneaked into a private SEC writers-only session with Saban.
Rankman has long been impressed with the South’s unwavering ability to bully the pulpit, stay on message and control the national narrative.
“The SEC is sort of like Fox News, and I mean that in the best, non-creepy Roger Ailes kind of way,” Rankman said. “They get their talking points in the morning and never stray from the script. They are relentless in their collective promotion of the league's greatness. You know: the only tougher SEC opponent than the one we just played is the one we’re going to play Saturday. Only an SEC coach can make Kentucky sound like the Seven Blocks of Granite.”
No wonder the SEC’s motto is “It Just Means More.”
It just does.
Rankman is a 1981 graduate of Cal State Fullerton, which played Georgia in 1991 and ’92, losing two “body-bag” games by the cumulative score of 83-14. He lives in Chino Hills with his wife and three children: Bo, Herschel and Shug.
He recently served as judge for the annual sports writing contest in the state of... Georgia.
His assignment begins, effective immediately, with the purported purpose to bathe and\or bask in the SEC’s reflective glory. He will also hold the conference accountable. For instance: it’s just a fact Florida has not left the state for a non-conference game since 1991.
And, sorry, no self-respecting program should ever schedule a train stop: Chattanooga, Charleston Southern, or Southern Pacific.
Rankman will continue to scrutinize CBS, the Soviet-like propagandist arm of SEC football, and monitor closely each off season how many more national championships Auburn has retroactively awarded itself.
Well, anyway, as they like to say down South, "Boys, it’s time to tee it up." [/membership]