Dr. Saturday's Matt Hinton reminded us today that college football is a very different phenomenon in the South than elsewhere--with "elsewhere" being typified by the West Coast, where powerhouse Stanford was happy with a turnout for its Spring Game that would have been beyond scandalous anywhere in the SEC. Since I live less than two hours from Palo Alto, this post certainly resonated with me. To tell you the truth, I don't know who shows up at Stanford's actual regular season games, because there are no visible signs of popular support, even in the midst of the football season, for the Cardinal or, really, any other Pac-10 (or Pac-12, I guess it is now) team. No game day banners; no car horns bleating out the Stanford (or Cal) fight songs, whatever they are. There are sports bars, but best I can tell, the crowds there on autumn Saturdays are typically present to root for teams far, far away.
I'm sure alumni turn out for Pac-10 games, but what's missing here is broader public allegiance. Some of it may be academic selectivity: totally aside from quasi-Ivy Stanford, it is really, really hard to get into state schools in the UC system (Cal or UCLA). And in fact, the only semi-local college sports regalia you ever really see on the central coast belong to Fresno State (from the more accessible Cal State system) which is quite a distance from here. But still, there is nothing like the common phenomenon in Georgia of the most fanatical Dawg fans being folk who never went to college, and/or who couldn't get into UGA (particularly after the HOPE scholarship vastly boosted entrance requirements).
Matt's right: it's a cultural difference, and one that I hope people in SEC country fully appreciate.