College Football: 14 Musicians Talk About Their Favorite SEC Teams

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With the World Cup come and gone, we here at Paste turn our attention to another kind of football near and dear to our hearts—college football. In particular, SEC football. As we prepare for the season, we decided to examine the cross-section of music and sports, taking a look at each Southeastern Conference (because conference pride, y’all) football team through the eyes of musicians who are fans. Paste rounded up a representative for each school and talked about Saturday pigskin in the South.

1. Alabama
Musician: Paul Janeway – St. Paul and the Broken Bones

Why he’s an Alabama fan: I’m named after Paul “Bear” Bryant so I think it was probably at birth for me. Being named after a famous Alabama coach, I had no choice. It’s the only thing I ever knew. My grandfather, aunt, uncle, other uncle, et cetera, all went to the University of Alabama.

Most memorable game: I was little, real little, but I went to the 1992 SEC championship game, the first SEC championship game. I remember Alabama intercepting the ball from Florida and everybody going crazy. I was also at the Rocky Block when Alabama played Tennessee in 2009, and they blocked the field goal at Bryant Denny [Stadium] and Alabama won the game.

Favorite player: Shaun Alexander. I always loved him. He’s my favorite player. I met him one time and he was just such a nice dude and I loved the way he played.

Most hated rival: There are no two ways about it. It’d be Auburn. One time, I wore an Auburn hat when I was about four years old, and my grandfather spanked me for wearing it. How about that? I was wearing the hat to be cute. I think I was being kind of a smart-ass. My grandfather took it seriously, and he gave me a spanking. I mean he didn’t beat me up or anything. He just popped me on the bottom and said don’t wear that again. I said “absolutely, yes sir.”

2. Arkansas
Musician: Todd Gill – Lucero, The Paper Hearts

Why he’s an Arkansas fan: My parents moved us to Fayetteville when I was in first grade. I remember my entire extended family being jealous that we were going to “live with the Hogs.” Arkansas has no professional teams or in-state college rivals, so the Razorbacks are the biggest show in the state. It’s hard not to be a Hog fan here. It’s infectious across the state, and in Fayetteville, it’s absolutely in the air. Arkansas is often portrayed as an underdog, and there’s nothing more fun than rooting for the little guy.

Most memorable game: Arkansas was ranked No. 10 and hosted No. 1 Alabama in Fayetteville in 2010. Aside from being one of the best matchups I’ve ever seen, it was easily the loudest game I’ve heard inside Razorback Stadium. I recently heard former [Alabama] Crimson Tide quarterback Greg McElroy say the same thing. Arkansas was moving the ball down the field for the winning touchdown, but an interception in the final two minutes gave Alabama the win.

Favorite player: Without a doubt, Darren McFadden. It was so easy to be proud of him. He was an Arkansas native from Little Rock who chose to stay at home in spite of being recruited by a host of schools including Alabama, Auburn and Tennessee. He won two consecutive Doak Walker Awards as the nation’s top running back and was a runner-up for the Heisman Trophy two years in a row which kept him and Arkansas in the national spotlight. D-Mac was so fun to watch. He could run and catch, and I think he even threw four touchdown passes here at Arkansas. I’ll never forget that guy.

Favorite game day tradition: Oh, that’s easy. It’s Calling the Hogs, for sure. Describing the Hog Call makes it sound ridiculous. You raise your arms, wiggle your fingers and call out a falsetto “Wooooooo” before screaming “Pig Sooie!” with a big, over-animated fist pump. It’s something I would hate with a passion if I weren’t an Arkansas fan, which is why I love it so much. When an opposing team’s players or fans hear it for the first time, they laugh. They honestly laugh, but who can blame them? It’s one of the strangest things ever. But after the fourth of fifth time, it becomes annoying—you can see it in their eyes. And once Razorback fans sense that, they get louder and louder which only amplifies the frustration. It’s weird. It’s awesome. I love it.

3. Auburn
Musician: Ben Tanner – Alabama Shakes, Co-founder Single Lock Records

Why he’s an Auburn fan: Total indoctrination from birth. I didn’t attend Auburn, but my parents and grandfather went there, so I was raised to be an Auburn fan. They’re pretty intense sports fans, so Auburn football was always a very big deal growing up. In my life, we’ve gone from being the football step-child in the state to being a legitimate rival of Alabama. That rivalry is so intense and amazing, and it’s hard to describe to anyone who isn’t from Alabama. In most recent seasons, both teams have been good, which raises the stakes even higher. Last year’s Iron Bowl was emotionally exhausting.

Most memorable game: Some of my best friends went to Auburn, so I’d often go down there for game weekends when we were in college. My favorite was probably when Auburn upset Florida in 2001. I jumped a barricade to sneak into the student section to watch the game with my friends. Florida was No. 1 and undefeated, and Auburn was unranked, and Auburn won on a last-second field goal, and everyone went insane, rushing the field, climbing the goalposts, getting pepper-sprayed – total mayhem.

Favorite player: It’s gotta be Bo Jackson. I was too young to remember watching him play at the time, but I’ve watched many of his old games, and he was just such a freak athlete, he made defenses look like they were in quicksand.

Favorite game day tradition: The eagle flying around the stadium is always breathtaking.

Final Thoughts: There’s nothing in my life quite like being an Auburn football fan. It engages a completely non-rational and emotional part of my brain. I know, intellectually, that it’s only a game played by 20-year-olds, but when the game starts, I can’t help but care a LOT—sometimes too much. But that’s also the beauty of being a sports fan, and we have something really special and unique watching college football in the South.

4. Florida
Musician: Ken Block – Sister Hazel

Why he’s a Florida fan: I’ve lived in Gainesville my whole life and still do. My father was a professor at UF when I was a kid, and I went there for college. I sold Cokes in that stadium when I was a kid. [Sister Hazel] has played Gator Growl, the world’s largest run student pep rally, three times and Drew [Copeland], and I even hosted it one year. We have been the grand marshals of the homecoming parade, and I have been going to games since the south end zone was bleachers. We bleed orange and blue and love college football, especially SEC football.

Most memorable game: The Sugar Bowl in January 1997. Florida beat FSU 52-20 for the national championship. FSU had squeaked out a three point win in Tallahassee just a few weeks earlier, so the redemption in the Sugar Bowl was, pardon the pun, SWEET! Danny Wuerffel was unreal, and Florida played a nearly perfect game.

Favorite player: Emmitt Smith. He was an absolutely incredible running back to watch. His highlight reel plays were obviously amazing, but it was how he could turn plays that most backs would lose yardage on or get stuffed at the line of scrimmage into impressive positive yardage that always blew me away. And that was without a stellar offensive line. I can’t say enough about how great a player he was at UF and then in the NFL.

Bigger rivalry – Georgia or Florida State: Very tough call but I’d have to say Florida State. It seems we recruit more against them too. But, I’ll add that the level of intensity towards either one rises dramatically if they are having a great year or if something big like a conference or national title is on the line.

5. Georgia
Musician: Thomas Johnson – Futurebirds

Why he’s a UGA fan: I’ve actually been a fan my whole life. Both my folks went to UGA. Actually, they both grew up in Athens also, so it’s kind of been in my blood I guess. My folks have always had season tickets, and my grandparents have too, so we grew up going to lots of games. I eventually went to school there also, but I was a fan long before my enrollment there.

Favorite player: David Greene. I always felt like Greene was an underdog story. He didn’t have the biggest arm and wasn’t necessarily a fast guy, but he was a guy that always made the right decisions. I always felt like if he had the arm of [Matthew] Stafford or the legs of [D.J.] Shockley, what could have happened? So yeah, he [David Greene], and David Pollock were great. Having them on the team at the same time was pretty amazing.

Most memorable game: For some reason most of the memorable ones for me are games we lost. But one of my favorite games, because of the context, was [in 2002] when we were playing Georgia Tech and we beat them 51 to seven. I happened to be sitting with my best buddies and we were in the small Georgia Tech section in Sanford Stadium. It was really awesome to see the heartbreak on their faces.

Which team he’d rather beat: Florida, Auburn, or Georgia Tech: That’s a tough one. I’ve always talked about this growing up with my brothers or my dad or my friends. It seems like no matter what’s happening, no matter how good a team we had, we could never beat Florida, Auburn, Tennessee, and Tech in the same year. It was always one or two of them who got us… But Florida, they carry some importance for some reason…it’s got that importance that none of the other ones quite have, although they’re all great rivalries.

Final thoughts: You need to go to a good game at Georgia or LSU or Alabama or Auburn or Tennessee or Florida; some of these schools that have such great traditions and the mania of game day. It’s different at every school, but I know each one of those schools has really cool traditions. Just walking around the town, even, before the game: tailgates going on everywhere. The craziness of it all. It’s something to see. Even if you’re not a sports fan, it would be eye-opening.

The Futurebirds will release an EP on August 26. They’ve also partnered with Athens-based coffee Jittery Joe’s on a special roast, Baba Java. The EP will be given away with cans of Baba Java and will also be available separately.

6. Kentucky
Musician: Nate Kremer – The Delta Saints

Why he’s a Kentucky fan: Like my father before me, I was born into the Big Blue Nation. I love UK football because not only am I privileged/obligated by the pure blue blood coursing through my veins and not just because I happened to attend college there, but because I simply believe I will live to see them ascend to their rightful position alongside other SEC elite teams. It’s only a matter of time. We will simply become self-actualized and go grab what is to be our destiny.

Most memorable game: The most memorable game has to be [in 2006] when UK beat then-No. 1 LSU at home after three overtimes. It’s one of those special games you hope you’re able to experience as a student. And I’m glad to have taken part in the revelry that followed. Although we didn’t burn any couches. We save that for basketball season.

Favorite player: From Tim Couch, Jared Lorenzen, Derek Abney to Wesley Woodyard and Stevie Johnson it’s hard to pick a favorite, although Randall Cobb is a beast for my favorite NFL team.

Favorite game day tradition: There’s nothing quite like waking up on a Saturday morning with the sole purpose of getting your ass to that tailgate with all your loved ones and friends. You find some form of bourbon to lubricate your vocal chords, which will inevitably be torn apart by the ludicrous screaming and howling to follow. There’s some real beauty in these tailgates and many fuzzy memories.

7. LSU
Musician: Marc Broussard

Why he’s an LSU fan: I’ve been aware of LSU football prowess for most of my life, but it wasn’t until I started touring with my drummer, Chad Gilmore, a former member of the LSU marching band, that I really fell in love with LSU. Especially under Coach Les Miles, the Tigers have made Saturdays a whole lot more fun.

Most memorable game: I’d have to say LSU versus Florida in 2007. It was an incredible back and forth game. Both teams were highly ranked. And we were overseas in Africa, I think, on a U.S. military base watching the game in the middle of the night on a tiny TV in officer’s quarters. LSU won of course.

Favorite tradition: Every home game the Golden Band from Tigerland marches through campus to the stadium. As they near the stadium, they come over a small hill and play “Pregame [Salute]” and ”Touchdown [for LSU],” which are traditional LSU songs, and the fight song. The crowd goes absolutely nuts! It’s a great way to get fired up for the game.

Which rival he hates more – Alabama or Ole Miss: Yes
Final thoughts: LSU is an amazing game day experience. You’ve gotta take in a game at Tiger Stadium, no matter who you root for.

On his new album he just released: I’m extremely proud of this record. The songs are very personal and have come directly from my life. I had so much freedom creatively while being restricted financially, in comparison to my previous work, which actually made for a more efficient recording process and cut out a lot of second guessing. In the end, what was done was done very well and with focused intent. Unfortunately, by the time I hit the road with the Southern Soul Assembly, this album was good and done. I predict that not only will my future projects include those men, but be heavily influenced by them as well.
Broussard’s A Life Worth Living was released July 29.

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