Friday, December 18, 2009

Fatal Attraction

Yesterday's post on "Act like you've been there before, please" received quite a flurry of emails and Facebook discussions. About half were applauding the post, and the other half were from disgruntled Bammers claiming it was unfair to Bama fans as a whole. And like all things, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.

Yesterday's post featured the story of a wrongful death case being postponed in Birmingham so an attorney can attend the National Championship game. It began with mention of the fact that the University of Alabama has also suspended classes for three days for the game.

Chris Low pointed out on ESPN's SEC blog that the Bama media guide opens with "At some places, they play football ... At Alabama, we live it." And true to form, that seems to be precisely the case.

Our point was Alabama was once the jewel in the crown of the SEC. Bear Bryant was respected more than hated and Alabama was both the team and institution respected in the South. But now, in our opinion, it seems they are becoming the butt of the joke nationally. And for what? For their excessive celebrating and apparent exultation at seeing Tim Tebow cry. And as members of the SEC we'd like to be able to support the winner of the SEC in the NC game, but Bama fans, and not the actual team, are making that more and more difficult to do.

Post game gloating between intense rivals isn't at all surprising. Especially given the long history of bitter rivalries within the SEC, but what is unprecedented is the ability to track the internet migrations and searches of fans and groups for the past few years. And searching the trends associated with Tim Tebow, and Tebow Crying have produced some interesting results.

If you look at "Tebow Crying" over at Google Insights for the month of December, Alabama is unsurprisingly the overwhelming leader in searches:





What is surprising is that if you do a search for "Tebow" from June 2005 to Dec. 2009 (spanning his entire college career - including his recruitment), Alabama still leads in searches of Tebow.




If you narrow that search to Febuary 2008 to November 2009, thereby excluding the 2007 NC game and the 2009 SECCG, Alabama only falls to second by one point to Florida, despite neither Bama or Auburn having played Florida in the regular season for those two seasons.




When you factor in the populations of each state, the data is even more telling. Alabama's population, according to the US Census in 2008, was approximately 4.6 million. Florida's 18.3 million. That means that the ratio is roughly 1:4. For every one Alabamian there are four Floridians, and yet Alabama exceeds Florida in their interest of Tim Tebow than even the Sunshine State. And that is without factoring out the searches generating from Tallahassee.

If you compare the top searches for each region it is apparent that Alabama has had a more intense interest in Tebow's girlfriend, injuries, and crying than even his home state.

Alabama - Florida

1. Tim Tebow (100) - 1. Tim Tebow (100)
2. Tim Tebow girlfriend - (15) 2. Tim Tebow girlfriend (10)
3. Tebow girlfriend (15) - 3. Tebow girlfriend (10)
4. Tim Tebow Alabama (10) - 4. Tebow picture (5)
5. Tebow crying (10) - 5. Tebow injury (5)
6. Tebow Alabama (10) - 6. Tebow crying (5)
7. Tim Tebow Injury (5) - 7. Heisman Tebow (5)
8. Tim Tebow crying (5) - 8. Heisman (5)
9. Tebow injury (5) - 9. Gators (5)
10. Florida Gators (5) - 10. Florida Gators (5)


If you narrow the search of Tebow's career to just the state of Alabama, the great majority of the searches within the state originate from Birmingham, which includes Tuscaloosa. When you narrow even further to Birmingham/Tuscaloosa/Leeds the top searches are confined to four topics:

1. Tim Tebow
2. Tebow girlfriend
3. Tebow crying
4. Tebow injury


So what does this all illustrate? That from the very beginning, Alabama and Tide fans have a greater interest in Tim Tebow than even the State of Florida. But after his decision to go play for the Gators and not the Tide, the interest soured and to a great extent became bitter and even vitriolic. The fascination or interest in his injury and crying surpasses all the other schools and regions.

The only other school that saw Tebow cry was LSU in 2007 and their ranking is only a 43 to Alabama's 100. There is also no registered interest in Tebow's "injury" for LSU.

When you compare the interest from Florida's three rivals, Florida State, Georgia, and Tennessee the level of interest does not compare to Alabama's. (Even Georgia's numbers don't compare which include both Jacksonville and Tallahassee in Georgia's data, or limiting to Athens/Atlanta which includes Bama's searches from the SECCG.)


Clearly, the Crimson Tide had their hearts broken when Timmy Tebow chose Florida over Alabama, and have never forgiven him for it. The schadenfreude, the rejoicing over Tim Tebow's loss and tears, isn't the product of a few rowdy bandwagon Bama fans, it is the sentiment of a group over time.

The Facebook group "Tebow Crying" with its 160,000+ fans isn't a figment of the Gator Nation's imagination, nor are the vile comments posted on it.

The cottage industry of "Tebow cried for our sins" t-shirts are not the norm. You show us the John Parker Wilson t-shirts that Gators printed up last year. Or the t-shirts LSU fans frenetically bought with Phil Fulmer throwing his clip board.

And yes, if UF had canceled classes for any of the championship games, students would have gladly had a day off. But UF never canceled classes. There are similarly no stories of Florida judges being too intimidated to deny an outrageous motion requesting to attend a championship game from an attorney of a rival alma mater, from either Florida, FSU or Miami judges.

And Florida fans didn't mock or make t-shirts of Mark Ingram's tearful Heisman acceptance speech, or the heartbreaking story of his father's condition. We are unafraid of Tebow's tears, we are quite used to them and even salute them. And Gators are not embarrassed or condemning of a rival's tears in such a great moment as Ingram's.

What used to be a private joke among friends at a rival's expense can now be tracked and measured via the internet. Don't pretend we don't know, and act like we can't see how you've behaved as a group Bama fans.

And to be clear, our beef is not with Nick Saban or the team. Nick Saban was gracious and conducted his post game interview with class. It is what we expected from the head coach of the Univ. of Alabama. And we weren't bothered by Ingram and other Alabama players doing the Gator chomp. It's fair game. But the excessive celebration and continuing lack of class by Bama fans embarrasses the SEC.

Your team won the right to represent the SEC in the National Championship game, how about as fans now earning the respect of the rest of the SEC and its fans too. Get all the use out of the Bama 32:13 t-shirts that you can, because the rest of us might be readying Tex 24:17 eye black.

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