Shanoff's WUC: SEC, Vick, IOC, Tigers, KU

Today's Calls: SEC vs. Everyone, Kansas hoops vs. Kentucky hoops (vs UNC hoops et al ...), Tigers vs. Rockies, Ricky Nolasco vs. Jamie Moyer, Obama vs. IOC, Tim Tebow vs. Joe Webb, Knicks 2009 vs. Knicks 2010, Nike vs. Mike Vick, Reggie Bush vs. Lamar Odom and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: The SEC's defining characteristic? Its own sense of exceptionalism. ↵

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↵All of the things on SN's fascinating list of why the SEC rules -- including coaching egos, on-field success, economic power, traditions (like cheating!) -- derive from the power of the fans' sense of their own superiority. ↵

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↵It causes them to rabidly attend games, excessively buy merchandise, support extreme coaching salaries, approve win-at-all-costs methods, drive TV ratings and indoctrinate their kids. ↵

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↵As a mid-life convert to the SEC, I have had the ability both to observe the culture with a sense of perspective -- but also immerse myself in it (not that this detail is a proxy, but I probably personally own two dozen Florida football T-shirts, and those are just acquired since I entered my 30s). ↵

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↵So maybe I'm projecting -- the exceptionalism was part of what lured me to SEC fandom. But don't take my word for it: Ask CBS and ESPN, which collectively pay billions to tap into it. ↵

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↵But for all the big personalities and performance metrics and TV exposure on the field, the SEC's real engine is off the field, in its fan base. ↵

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↵Consequently, for leagues seeking to replicate what makes the SEC successful, here's the secret: Arrogance. ↵

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↵SN College Hoops Top 50: Too early for this list? No way. In fact, it was kind of thrilling to check it out and start thinking about the upcoming season, which -- ironically -- seems destined to be defined by an overwhelming sense of inevitability about who will make the Final Four: Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, UNC -- SN's Top 4. (I like Villanova over MSU -- hardly a stretch.) ↵

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↵MLB Playoff Picture: As good as locked in, after the Tigers beat the Twins to go up 3 with 4 to play. ... Same with the Rockies, now up 4 on the Braves with 4 to play. ... The Phillies clinched (as expected), and even though the Dodgers didn't clinch, it's an inevitability. Makes for a pretty low-key final four regular-season games in baseball; that's OK, because next week's playoffs will reclaim the spotlight for MLB quickly enough. ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points: If they're going to win for a lame-duck manager, maybe the Indians should have fired Eric Wedge a couple of months ago. ... At this point, Mets fans should be amazed at (and, frankly, appreciating) the new and creative ways the team manages to fail. ... Red Sox got a glimpse of what might have been had they managed to trade for Roy Halladay. ... Stud: Ricky Nolasco (MLB season-high 16 Ks) Anyone going to win their fantasy league title thanks to Nolasco's Ks? ↵

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↵Olympics: Obama en route to Copenhagen, where his presence is expected to be the difference between the IOC granting the 2016 Summer Games to Chicago, over Rio. Should be a pretty exciting moment tomorrow when the IOC announces the choice. ↵

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↵NFL Must-Read: Florio's 10-Pack on the teams whose fans might want to start to panic already. Leading the pack: Titans. (Notably not on the list: The Lions -- low expectations, combined with a middle-of-the-pack 1-2 record, has its advantages!) ↵

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↵Tebow Watch: "The best I've seen him" is how Urban Meyer described it. Still nothing conclusive on whether Tebow will play against LSU. ↵

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↵CFB Unbeatens: Which of the 17 remaining unbeaten teams is most likely to run the table? Dave Curtis correctly IDs Boise State -- with its laughable schedule -- as the clear favorite. Florida at No. 2 is fine, but I'd move up Texas from No. 6 to "2A." ↵

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↵CFB Must-Read: Why the SEC rules (included here for obvious reasons). "SEC" obviously stands for "Sense of Exceptionalism, Collective." ↵

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↵(However, the league's online strategy? A wee bit flawed.) ↵

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↵CFB Tonight: Colorado at West Virginia, which is worth watching for WVU RB Noel Devine alone. (Truth be told, I'd rather be watching the Southern Miss-UAB game, featuring SoMiss's prolific offense vs. UAB QB Joe Webb, the most under-the-radar talent in the country.) ↵

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↵NBA Countdown: No. 28 Knicks. Shoals gives you more reasons to care about the Knicks than simply "270 days -- or so -- until the team can sign LeBron!" ↵

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↵NBA Preseason: Tyreke Evans with a knee issue? Arguably the NBA's most talented and promising rookie hits a bump, about as early as is possible. Hopefully, he's fine, because he and Kevin Martin are the only reasons to care about the Kings. (Meanwhile, tonight is the NBA Preseason opener: Nuggets at Jazz.) ↵

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↵Scandals: Binghamton AD Joel Thirer resigns, amid an insane scandal involving the basketball team. This was more inevitable than the MLB playoff field. ↵

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↵Endorsements: Nike would be wise to clarify their "endorsement deal" with Mike Vick. It's not like it involves a million-dollar contract or a signature shoe. More like: "Hey, Mike: Here's a couple thousand bucks -- head over to Foot Locker and buy some cleats on us." ↵

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↵Twitter: The NBA will ban players from tweeting anytime from 45 minutes before games until after they have talked with the media, post-game. That makes Charlie Villanueva's halftime tweet last season both a breakthrough -- and a one-time novelty. ↵

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↵The Last Word: Reggie Bush and Kim Kardashian, together again. Perhaps Reggie was inspired by the depth of love from Kim's sister Khloe and her new brother-in-law Lamar Odom. ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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