I guess this is the way it’s done these days. Or, maybe this is the way it’s done in Alabama. A YouTube video, decorated with the banners of two rival schools and filled with the rants of an angry man in a pair of cheap sunglasses and an Alabama polo. “Those California dreamers are going to wake up to a Crimson nightmare,” says a YouTube trash-talker known as “Lawtide.” Speaking about Saturday night’s game against USC, he goes on to explain in graphic detail where Alabama is “fixing’ to put our Crimson foot.”
It doesn’t stop with ‘Ole Lawtide.’ Fellow Deep South YouTube sensation “Hoss4107” follows up with his own solo production, saying “it’s about that time, to get a little hate in on these USC Trojan fans out there.” I’d give you more detail if I could, but I’ll confess, I didn’t make it very far into the video.
So it seems that us West Coast folk are being introduced to something called ‘Hate Week.’ We usually just call it Game Week around here, with a preference for following the action on the field over that which occurs across the internet. I suppose, in some strange way, it’s an honor. This level of attention is normally reserved for Alabama’s arch-rivals - bitter enemies like Auburn and Tennessee (as explained on various occasions by our counterparts at Roll Bama Roll.)
It’s not exactly clear who fired the first shot in this early season barrage of hate. By some accounts, including ESPN, it was actually the USC bookstore, with the launch of a special edition t-shirt emblazoned with the words: “Roll Tears Roll.” Alabama fans retaliated with the release of their own anti-Trojan shirt, which takes a dig at USC’s historical association with O.J. Simpson. Whatever.
Despite the fact these teams haven’t played each other since 1985, the level of emotion attached to the rivalry seems to be fairly high. Even the marching bands are fighting. Last week, Zach Helmand’s article in the LA Times revealed a dispute over the Fleetwood Mac song “Tusk,” with both schools claiming original ties to the tune. I’m told that both squads will be making the trip to Arlington. Fans might want to remain in their seats at halftime just in case there is an actual ‘battle of the bands.’
With only a few days until kickoff, the trash talk is likely to ramp up even more. Fortunately, for those that are new to ‘hate week,’ or have never had to deal with an SEC team in this manner, there are some useful resources available. Last season, fans of the Iowa Hawkeyes put together a short public service announcement designed to help you talk to your children about ‘the myth of the SEC.’ In clear, simple language, this video explains why the ‘national narrative’ continually favors the SEC over other conferences. This might be helpful for SC fans as they sit through ABC’s coverage of the game on Saturday night - and it’s a heck of a lot better than listening to ‘Ole Lawtide.’