Having been born in Texas, and raised in California, I’ve never quite been able to figure out why I love Southeastern Conference football so much. Aside from the fact that I watched a few episodes of “Two-A-Days,” I have no real connection to the Southeast, yet there I am, every Saturday, religiously watching Louisiana State University play Florida or Auburn versus Arkansas. The quality of SEC football is outstanding, but I always felt like I was drawn to the conference for other reasons, and then I figured it out. First, SEC broadcasts tend to focus on an inordinate number of gorgeous coeds. When you’re watching men tackle each other for three hours, it’s always good to get a few shots of southern belles to keep things balanced. Second, SEC games are just more fun to listen to, in large part because of the names of the players. You won’t find another conference out there with more made up or interesting player names, and it definitely adds some sauce to those Saturday afternoon broadcasts.
LSU has traditionally had entertaining names up and down the roster, and this year’s squad is no exception. While the quarterback is the mildly named Matt Flynn, the rest of the offense gives the tongue goose bumps. Early Doucet and Trindon Holliday both rack up touchdowns for the Tigers, while Colt David puts through the extra points and field goals before undoubtedly kicking back with a couple of post-game Colt 45s. The rest of the team isn’t bad either. Cornerback Jonathan Zenon sounds like a character out of a Disney movie about teenage girls in space, while fellow defensive back Phelon Jones had better hope he never commits a serious crime. Like any good SEC football roster, the Tigers also feature a bit of alliteration, with defensive end Lazarius Levingston causing radio announcers to trip over their words all over the Southeast. No one on the Tiger squad, however, more exemplifies the “what’s in a name” feel of this column than center T-Bob Hebert, whose parents clearly thought they were giving birth to a new breed of dinosaur.
LSU doesn’t play Tennessee this year, but if they did, the announcers would certainly have a good time. The Volunteers play the name game in a number of different ways. They’ve got Bram Cannon, who was probably made fun of as a child considerably more than teammate Sinclair Cannon – although to be fair, Bram might be a more common name in the South than Sinclair. And how about freshman Court Courtney, who had to go through life knowing that his older brother got the considerably more normal name of Geoff. The Volunteers can stack letters with the best of them as well, with Dylan Dickey and Dorian Davis leading the way. It should come as no surprise that Tennessee recruits some great names. After all, they do have a coach named Jim Bob Cooter, who was destined to play football in the South from the moment his parents signed his birth certificate.
Mississippi has a couple of guys, LaDerrick Vaughn and LaMark Armour, both of whose parents may have skipped school the day that they talked about the gender of nouns in French class. And then there’s star running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Green-Ellis will probably play in the NFL one day, which is a well earned reward considering he has probably suffered through years of painfully filling out those bubbled name sections on standardized tests.
Auburn brought us one of the great names in recent memory, Cadillac Williams, who now runs through tackles in the NFL rather than the SEC. This year’s squad has no Cadillac, but there is a Slaughter, a Savage and a Shoemaker. And then there’s Sen’Derrick Marks, who I can only hope one day realizes that his true destiny is to become a U.S. senator.
Sure, there are other schools around the country with snazzy names on their roster, but you’d be hard pressed to find the kind of talent that exists in the SEC. USC, for instance, features a pretty lame roster, with the exception of QB John David Booty. And then there’s my hometown Cal Bears. The best they can do is 300-pound lineman Alex Mack, who is considerably harder on the eyes than that cute girl from “The Secret World of Alex Mack.”
Alas, no column about great names would be complete without the legend from Eastern Illinois. Standing at 5 feet 11 inches and 209 pounds, he’s a senior linebacker from Delray Beach, Fla.: Ladies and gentleman, I present to you the world-renowned Lucious Pusey. For a while there, he was an Internet icon, unfortunately he couldn’t handle the heat and legally changed his name to Lucius Seymour. What a Pusey.
Daily Nexus Sports Editor Alexander Pavlovic is not the same guy as Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard Aleksander “Sasha” Pavlovic but that doesn’t prevent him from telling the ladies that he is.