Everyone in the South loves college football. Everyone in college loves road trips. I'm thinking a college football road trip through the South needs to happen.
So if you have a semester to spare and don't mind watching Vandy, I have just the trip for you. Now I know it'll be tough, but the itinerary will have to stay the same. It is required that you watch a football game at each and every campus in the SEC and that you do not visit one stadium more than once. It might mean you miss a few enticing games, but once outside Nashville and Lexington, you'll most likely be seeing the conference's game of the week.
So load up your Combos, your Red Bull and your buddies and go out on the road to find you some parties, some sorority girls and some football (if time permits). Here is your schedule:
Saturday, Sept. 7 - Gainesville, Fla. - Miami at Florida
I hope you're reading this in the car. The game is tomorrow and you don't want to miss this one. It is one of only two non-conference games you'll see and it'll be the first time these national powers have met in 14 years. How will the Gators respond in their first real test of the post-Spurrier era? How will you respond to the first obnoxious Gator fan you see? It's up to you, but just keep the orange stuff in the suitcase, please. You have 13 more games to see.
Saturday, Sept.14 - Columbia, S.C. - Georgia at South Carolina
Is this finally the year Georgia is better on the field than they are in the preseason magazines? Or will good ol' Lou continue to work his magic? By the way, feel free to jump in with 80,000 Gamecock fans when they yell "Go Cocks!" during their fight song. Then feel free to laugh.
Thursday, Sept. 19 - Starkville, Miss. - Auburn at Mississippi State
That's right, Thursday night in beautiful Starkvegas. Oh come on, would you rather be doing Econ homework or something? Don't answer that. Look, if for no other reason, come down and marvel at the creative ways Bulldog fans smuggle in their illegal cowbells. They aren't that different in shape from a Jack Daniels bottle, you know. Besides, you can always stop by the local hangout on your way out of town and re-stock on some Red Bull. Wal-Mart is always in supply.
Saturday, Sept. 21 - Knoxville - Florida at Tennessee
You escape from Mississippi just in time to get back home for the annual Gator-Vol war. It might not be quite the same without Darth Visor, but there are still plenty of things to look forward to. You get to sleep in your own bed, you get to cheer in your own stadium, and you get to have a drunken brawl with Florida fans in your own bar. Home, sweet home.
Saturday, Sept. 28 - Nashville - South Carolina at Vanderbilt
I apologize for this one. Rules are rules. If it makes you feel any better, though, there really aren't any decent SEC games this week, so you're not missing much. It could be worse.
Saturday, Oct. 5 - Oxford, Miss. - Florida at Ole Miss
Don't you dare miss this one. Yes, Georgia and 'Bama in Tuscaloosa will be tough to miss, but it'll be well worth it to see Rex Grossman and Eli Manning battle it out for what likely will be the only time in their college careers. Oxford is the quintessential college town and while you're there, you need to check out some of Ole Miss's finest traditions: the Square, the Grove, the women, etc.
Saturday, Oct. 12 - Athens, Ga. - Tennessee at Georgia
It's another great college town. Just remember what I told you about keeping the orange stuff in the hotel room. If you insist on wearing it, at least bring along a few doggie biscuits so you can toss them at the frat boys who get down on all fours and start barking at you as you walk to the stadium. Ah, if only I was kidding...
Saturday, Oct. 19 - Baton Rouge, La. - South Carolina at LSU
Oh boy. What do you get when you oppose the rudest and drunkest fans in the SEC with the team with a nickname such as South Carolina's? A lengthy police report is what I'm guessing. Tiger fans start drinking on Thursday, don't stop till Sunday, and are relentless on opposing fans in between. We can only hope this is a night game. If Lou thought Neyland was too loud, he should be in for a treat. When this place shook a few years back, it actually registered on the seismograph at the LSU geology department. No joke.
Saturday, Oct. 26 - Fayetteville, Ark. - Ole Miss at Arkansas
Have fun getting to Fayetteville. It takes about four days from anywhere in the country. If you get to the game in time, be sure to make up your own creative words to replace "Pig Suuuey!" and don't be too harsh on all the good ol' boys wearing hog heads. Most of them were just born that way.
Saturday, Nov. 2 - Jacksonville, Fla. - Florida vs. Georgia
You knew I was going to have to find a way to squeeze this one in. It's the World's Greatest Outdoor Cocktail Party for crying out loud. You'll also get to see a great game if you're coherent by kickoff. I hope you now understand why you had to spend a Thursday night in Starkville.
Saturday, Nov. 9 - Lexington, Ky. - LSU at Kentucky
Just cross your fingers and hope this is the one football game Ashley Judd goes to this year. And that Kentucky QB Jared Lorenzen doesn't find your snack food.
Saturday, Nov. 16 - Auburn, Ala. - Georgia at Auburn
It's an underrated rivalry game and it always seems to produce classic finishes. You might be out of luck, though, as far as the local tourist destinations go. The city of Auburn is about 90 percent campus, 10 percent gas station.
Saturday, Nov. 23 - Tuscaloosa, Ala. - Auburn at Alabama
Pick a side and stick with it. In no other rivalry is the hatred this thick between two schools and their respective fan bases. No neutrality is allowed around here. While you're down in T-town, though, gently remind 'Bama fans that the Bear passed away 20 years ago. They need reminding every once in awhile.
Saturday, Nov. 30 - Honolulu, Hawaii - Alabama at Hawaii
God bless the new 12-game schedules. After a dozen grueling weeks of beer, parties and football, what better place than the islands to relax, soak up the sun, and enjoy more beer, parties and football? Thank the Crimson Tide for getting into trouble. Probation has never been this sweet.