In the South, Saturdays are dedicated to college football. Southerners' obsession with sports is not a matter of simplicity. In fact, in the South, culture and college football is intertwined, a directly deep-rooted reflection of the history of the South, the innovation of the game itself, and the resources the Sun Belt affords.
Hall of Famer Marino Casem once said, "Football is a cultural experience on the East Coast. In the Midwest, it's a form of cannibalism. On the West Coast, it's a tourist attraction. And in the South, Football is a religion, and Saturday is the holy day."
It's no secret the South came out of the Civil War in bad shape as it was exclusively based on farming, while the North focused on industrialization. Southerners always had the impression that the Northerners were looking down on them. The mindset of the time was mostly likely conceding they may not be able to beat them in the war or economically, but they could beat them on the football fields.
For a nation that was just a few decades removed from the Civil War, football and sports became a rallying point for the often embattled South. The North/South rivalry helped propel college football and sports through the early 1900s, the Great Depression, and the two World Wars. It was possibly because football, a gritty yet strategic game, was comparable to the hardships of surviving the era.
In the 70s and 80s, teams like Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State, Notre Dame, and USC dominated the football scene. But all of that shifted in the late 90s, as of the 20 teams in the College Football Playoff, 75% were from the South.
But what caused the shift? In the 60s, many of the Southern football teams were still segregated. Unfortunately, it wasn't until the mid-70s that those schools began to integrate their roster, and it took until the 90s for the South to catch up to the rest of the country. But when they did, the South began to dominate.
Southern geography and weather are usually pretty warm, allowing teams to train all year round. Players from places like Washington or New York had to contend with snow and freezing weather. Southern teams had months of training, allowing them to be miles ahead of other states.
It's Just Different
Football in the South is approached differently than in the rest of America. From birth, kids are exposed to football games, enrolled in football, learn about coaching, and are surrounded by passionate fans. The love of the game and sports has always been there and has simply grown over time. Sports in the South is a way of life. The success of competition lies in our culture, the fact it is a weekly gathering shared by the community and a chance to put our troubles aside to watch the game.