“In the East, college football is a cultural exercise. On the West Coast, it is a tourist attraction. In the Midwest, it is cannibalism. But in the Deep South, it is religion, and Saturday is the holy day.” — Former Southern University coach Marino Casem, College Football Hall of Famer.
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Like the flamboyant old football philosopher once so eloquently described, college football might live all across America’s diverse athletic landscape, but its true lifeblood has always pumped hardest in only one place, and that’s the Deep South.
In the South, football matters. Deeply. Madly. On my recent vacation through the southern heartland, I gathered confirmation that the game is indeed a religion. In Tennessee, they blogged about which high schools have the best natural grass fields and spend hours on talk radio fretting over who will be the Vols’ backup punter.