Birmingham is to the Southeastern Conference what Mecca is to Islam.
SEC headquarters are in Birmingham, and while Alabama and Auburn are the top draws for area sports fans, other SEC schools are a source of considerable pride, too. The SEC is strong in pretty much all sports, but it is the league's achievements in football that make area chests swell with pride.
For the past two Januarys, local sports talk shows have been abuzz after SEC schools--first Florida and then LSU--won the college football national championship game. In both cases, the victim of the SEC schools was Ohio State, of the Big 10 Conference.
Birmingham sports fans love to crow about how the SEC is superior to the Big 10 and other college sports leagues. And I would say the locals are right--the SEC probably is the best conference in college sports, particularly football (which is all most Alabamians really care about anyway).
But I find some irony in the local pride over SEC football. And that's because I have to ask this question: Why is the SEC superior in football to leagues from other regions of the country? And I think the answer is obvious: Southern states have a higher percentage of black athletes than non-Southern states. And when it comes to sports that require speed, quickness, explosiveness, and jumping ability, blacks are superior to whites.
I know I'm walking on the same turf that caused Jimmy the Greek to crash and burn. But while the Greek was a bit crude in making his point, he was essentially correct. And I think most any college coach who recruits would say the same thing: Black athletes, in general, can run faster, move quicker, and jump higher than whites.
Thanks to the South's unfortunate history with slavery, we have a higher percentage of black residents than most states to the north. And that is very good indeed for college football in our region. If you follow the sport, you probably have heard college coaches talk about Florida as a particularly talent-rich state. They ain't talking about white boys. (Although Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow is a pretty talented white boy from Florida.)
Now that I've offended a fair number of people, let's turn this discussion to politics--and what I find to be rich irony. White Southerners love to brag about strong SEC football teams, which are strong mainly because of superior black athletes. But when it comes to election day, white Southerners tend to vote for the Republican Party, which since the 1964 presidential election, has been lukewarm at best on the issue of civil rights and efforts to level the playing field for blacks in America. That's why blacks have come to overwhelmingly support the Democratic Party--the party that has consistently stood for civil rights.
The SEC stretches from LSU in the west to South Carolina in the east, from Florida in the south to Kentucky in the north. And in recent years, all of those states have trended red--as in the Republican Party. In other words, white Southerners support blacks on Saturday afternoon. But the rest of the time, they support their own white interests.
Which leads me to this thought: If there is one thing that white Southerners love more than college football, it's college-football recruiting. We are in the midst of recruiting season right now, with national signing day on Feb. 6. (That, of course, is one day after the Super Tuesday primary elections, which this year includes Alabama; I guarantee you many white Southern guys--and gals, for that matter--will be far more interested in the outcome on Feb. 6 than the one on Feb. 5.)
Democrats need to take the Southern love for college-football recruiting and turn it to the party's advantage. And here's how they can do it:
Get a list of the top 1,000 college football recruits in the Deep South. Shouldn't he hard; there are lists all over the Internet. My guess is that about 75 percent of that list will be black. Take out the offensive linemen and the kickers, and the list is probably close to 90 percent black.
The majority of these young black males probably are Democrats. And the majority of their parents almost certainly are Democrats.
So here is what Democrats need to do: Contact these players and their families and try to form a coalition. And the platform of the coalition, in the voice of the players' parents, will say, "As long as Southern states tend to favor the Republican party, and oppose the interests of black Americans, our sons will sign college football scholarships with northern schools. When Southern states begin to vote Democratic, supporting the interest of black Americans, our sons will be happy to play for Southern schools. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy watching Ohio State, Michigan, Missouri (go Tigers!) and others whip your Southern butts."
I can think of nothing that would turn the South blue faster than that. Heck, Southerners would be naming their baby girls "Hillary" and their boys "Barack" one after another.
So there you have it, the Legal Schnauzer plan for turning the South blue--one football prospect at a time.