This weekend will mark the Missouri Tigers‘ official welcome to their new home, the Southeastern (SEC) Conference. They open conference play on Saturday with a road game against the Georgia Bulldogs, who are ranked in the top-ten. The scheduling of this game makes sure that the Tigers’ welcome isn’t an easy one, rather that a new member to the conference gets a taste of one of the conference’s best at the first possible chance. But Tigers defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson may have made his team very unwelcome in their new conference thanks to some comments he made this past weekend.
After the Tigers beat Southeastern Louisiana this past Saturday, Richardson was watching the Bulldogs take on Buffalo and ended up turning off his T.V. When asked why, Richardson replied, “it’s like watching Big Ten football, it’s old man football.” Needless to say, those kinds of comments will not be appreciated in the SEC, especially coming from a team that hasn’t played a conference game inside the conference yet.
There are plenty of fans out there who understand and agree with Richardson’s comments on the SEC. The conference is a defensive one that is dominated by running games on the offensive side of the ball. That type of football gives you a lot of hard hitting games, but to fans of the extremely pass-happy game football is becoming, it also seems boring.
But if you’re looking for a reason why the SEC has won the past six national championships, you simply have to look at the two things people may find boring about the conference: running and defense. The major benefit of having and playing against strong defenses is that anything lighter almost seems easy for the top SEC squads.
Also, having a running game only gives SEC teams an added bonus because they have something to fall back on if their quarterbacks under-perform or have an off night. But in conferences where the long ball rules the day, if your passing game fails you on a particular day, it’s going to be a long, long day for your team.
Of course the SEC looks like old man football to Richardson as he’s played in the Big 12 his whole collegiate career. It must seem like old man football to him considering how pass-happy that conference has become over the last ten years, not to mention that some Big 12 defenses looked like high-school football defenses last season.
But this isn’t a story about one player’s trash talk so much as it is a team coming to grips with their new surroundings. This “old man football” is going to be the norm for the Tigers going forward. They are going to be playing against it at least eight times during the regular season every season for the foreseeable future.
And then there are the SEC fans that Richardson likely pissed off with his comment. This is a comment that may end up being attached to the Tigers during conference play at least for the rest of this season. And these are fans that do not appreciate in any way the besmirching of their football, something I’m sure many will believe Richardson has done with his comment.
Some of the crowd atmospheres in certain SEC cities are among the best to see and the worst to play against in college football. The Tigers will only get a taste of that this year as they have home games against Georgia & Alabama, and no LSU on the schedule.
To be fair, the Tigers have some experience with this as the crowd atmosphere’s in Norman for the Oklahoma Sooners, in Austin for the Texas Longhorns, and at College Station for the Texas A&M Aggies are something else. However, anyone who’s watched or been at SEC games in Tuscaloosa or Baton Rouge or Knoxville or Jacksonville for the annual Florida/Georgia game know there is something separate about the atmosphere for SEC football games, something different.
One thing is for certain, and that is that a new chapter in the history of Missouri Tigers football officially begins this Saturday.