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The SEC Has To Have Less Cowbell

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↵ Mississippi State is like Papua: the poor, marginalized half of an already marginalized area of the world. (Say what you want about the New Guinea bit, but at least they've got their own country.) Did you know there was a burgeoning revolutionary war in Papua? Almost definitely not unless you are the sort of dedicated Economist reader that actually delves into the articles about depressing places with funny names, in which case you're probably reading the Economist instead of this. ↵

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↵You're here, so did you know that there's a long-standing simmering discontent in the SEC because the native traditions in Starkville are a little too noisy for the tastes of relative plebes? Probably not unless your team has become one of Mississippi State's inexplicable home victims over the past decade, which has seen MSU's school-wide addiction to ringing cowbells as loudly and annoyingly as possible become a matter of contention. ↵

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↵The Cowbell War is now entering the phase where important people meet at places with funny names to have pictures taken and documents signed. The SEC has long banned "artificial noisemakers," and Mississippi State has flouted that ban in favor of wild cowbell waving for as long as that ban has existed. Things are coming to a head with what is destined to be known as the Cowbell Compromise Of Destin: ↵

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↵⇥Southeastern Conference athletic directors will evaluate a Mississippi State proposal for compromise on the artificial noisemakers issue over the next two days. ↵⇥

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↵⇥MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin wouldnt discuss details of the proposal after the second day of ADs meetings at the leagues annual meeting at the Sandestin Hilton. ↵⇥

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↵⇥Barring a compromise, though, Stricklin expects that the alternative is going to be financial penalty, he said. In an informal straw vote, the league ADs voted this week to shoot down a MSU proposal to eliminate the leagues ban on artificial noisemakers. ↵⇥

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↵You may be surprised to find out this actually matters. Over the past decade, Mississippi State's had the best homefield advantage in the SEC, winning eight more games at home than they did on the road. Since MSU's road record is an appalling 6-34, that means the Bulldogs are more than twice as likely to win in front of the clangorous cowbell cacophony than they are anywhere else. Part of that is an effect of MSU's general dismal performance, but even the raw numbers are compelling: +8 is better than any other team in the SEC over the past decade, with only two teams (Ole Miss and Arkansas) within three games of the Bulldogs. What evidence exists actually suggests that this matters. ↵

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↵Will financial penalties levied at the institution stop the cowbellls? If the Ole Miss fanbase's fevered reaction to the abolition of Dixieor any other situation in which a school has attempted to get its fans to stop doing something considered a traditionthe answer is "probably, but only after an extended period of caterwauling." From the perspective of enforcement staff, cowbells have the merit of being difficult to conceal in a climate not conducive to parkas. If the university decides to take action, there's not much a potential cowbell-ringer can do other than stick it on his head Adam-Sandler-style and declare himself Crazy Cowbell Head Guy. That will fly one week a year, at most. ↵

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↵(HT: Get The Picture.) ↵

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