We asked Fred Barnes about his latest piece and he gave us this quote:
“Football and politics go together. In Alabama, Republicans win the statehouse and Auburn wins the football championship — a perfect fit.”
And now, as only Mr. Barnes can do …
SEC teams, which reach across the South from Florida to Arkansas, are the most fiercely competitive. They’ve won the past five national football championships. Even Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney says, “They’re a step ahead of everybody else.” Given this, it shouldn’t be surprising that SEC states—you can throw in Texas too—are the most economically competitive, vying against each other and with states outside the South to attract new investment and create jobs. And, like their football teams, they’re succeeding.
At the risk of being redundant, here’s another way to understand the phenomenon: The values and practices that produce extraordinary college football teams are similar to those that have transformed the South from the backwater it was a few decades ago into a region bristling today with prosperity, growth, and Republican ascendancy.
The teams play conservative football, with 300-pound (or bigger) linemen the rule and a style of play that overpowers opponents. And they come from states that are increasingly governed by Republicans who play a popular brand of conservative power politics. The similarity is not entirely coincidental.