UPDATED Friday night with a few changes and plenty of additions. Mad, stupid, crazy props to everyone who has linked this post in the last 24 hours: Ian at Sexy Results, I'm a Realist, Orson and Stranko at Every Day Should Be Saturday, Paul Westerdawg at Georgia Sports Blog, and -- holy s?#@! -- SI on Campus. Not to mention what is, quite frankly, a humbling and intimidating number of school-specific forums and message boards. (I couldn't read what they said about this on Tider Insider, but I'm fearing the worst.)
UPDATED 12/13, and again 2/5/6. And again 5/10/6. Jeebus. OK, I'm going now.
Earlier this week Nathan at Golden Tornado took the unique initiative to run down the entire Atlantic Coast Conference by picking out which Smurf was most representative of each ACC team. And somehow today the long, convoluted Kevin Bacon chain of Web sites I surfed to led me to this epic, amazing, utterly impossible-to-recreate post from Ian at Sexy Results matching just about every DI-A football team with a rap act. And since Ian's most recent post includes pictures of a bunch of Simpsons characters each rocking their most appropriate ACC-team gear, well . . . I did what every good blogger would do and bogarted ideas from blogs that, when all is said and done, are probably a lot better than mine. Herewith, your field guide to the Southeastern Conference (and a bunch of other teams besides), as explained via the cosmology of "The Simpsons":
Georgia: Homer Simpson
Like Homer, the Dawgs are a good-hearted bunch who aren't always the most socially acceptable people in any given group, but they mean well. Ever since Vince Dooley surrendered the job of head coach, they've been hoping someone will call them "sir" without adding "you're making a scene," and though season after season seems to have been set up for breakthrough success in recent years, they still manage to trip over something along the way. Which usually has something to do with . . .
Florida: Bart Simpson
Flippant, cocky, some dare call them "assholes," but they're the kind of guys who, even when they're not completely on their game -- which pretty much describes Florida ever since Spurrier left -- are still good enough to be envied by 90% of everyone else. Despite whatever shortcomings they may have, they're still a constant thorn in pretty much everyone else's side. Both are also frequently seen in blue shorts of some kind. And both have consistently managed to get the better of . . .
Tennessee: Sideshow Bob
Both Sideshow Bob and Big Orange Nation are convinced of their own superiority, though there's not much backing either of them up these days. Sideshow Bob has been spending most of his time in jail, while the Vols have been sucking wind on a 5-6 season (and spending a lot of time in jail, now that I think about it). Two of the most easily dislikeable characters in their respective neighborhoods.
South Carolina: Edna Krabappel
Like Edna, the Gamecocks have gone a long time with very little to celebrate, and they've gotten used to crushing disappointment. Yet there's that kinda-sexy, kinda-trashy thing about both of them that tell you she could be really hot if only the right guy with the initials SS -- be it Seymour Skinner or Steve Spurrier -- came along.
Vanderbilt: Lisa Simpson
A lone voice of reason and intellect in a 'hood that is otherwise completely insane. She rarely garners much attention for her exploits, but yeah, she is gonna be your boss one day.
Kentucky: Ralphie Wiggum
Utterly, completely, laughably dysfunctional, and just as utterly, completely, laughably unaware of this situation (unless the UK administration honestly believes Rich Brooks is their ticket to the big-time). And now the 'Cats have to deal with NCAA sanctions on top of that. "You'll wear 'em until you learn, son."
LSU: Nelson Muntz
The schoolyard bully, LSU would just as soon kick your ass as look at you, and then laugh about it. Yet there's deep dysfunction lurking within that's always the chink in the armor. Residual anger over a deadbeat dad? Turnover issues? An inexplicable fourth-quarter collapse to Tennessee? An equally inexplicable crush on Lisa? Yeah, they're scary, but that doesn't make them invincible. Very complex characters both.
Alabama: Moe Szyslak
The crankiest, most dyspeptic fan base in all of college football, and the biggest complainers. Win or lose, there's something to fume about, usually a perceived lack of respect from everyone else. While Moe/Alabama is absolutely convinced that everyone else sucks, though, they also suffer from some deep-seated self-loathing. Yes, Alabama, you went 3-8 not that long ago. Yes, you got jilted by Dennis Franchione. But you're still better than dirt. Well, not that fancy store-bought dirt. That stuff's loaded with nutrients. You can't compete with that stuff.
Auburn: Marge Simpson
Just as Marge has a long history with Homer, so does Auburn have a long history with Georgia; the Tigers and Dawgs have been inexorably linked ever since they played the Southeast's first college football game in Piedmont Park more than a century ago. They spar on a regular basis, and while Marge/Auburn frequently gets the better of her counterpart, she still feels underappreciated for her exploits. Every once in a while, this simmering resentment comes boiling to the surface, but Marge usually just solves this with a weekend at Rancho Relaxo. Auburn, regrettably, lunges for the fire hose.
Ole Miss and Mississippi State: Lenny and Carl, respectively
Perpetual sidekicks, occasionally good for a laugh, but they're almost certain to never make their way into the limelight. However, the Rebels and Bulldogs have a grand total of one appearance in the SEC championship game. Even Lenny and Carl can count on at least a little screen time in each episode.
Arkansas: Groundskeeper Willie
A loner, an outsider, a funny-talkin' sort who comes off as just plain weird to most other people. Yet there's just something indescribably dangerous about them that can be counted on to rear its ugly head every once in a while.
And a quick look around the country:
Southern Cal: Fat Tony DeMico
He is the Godfather, the man with the plan, the man pulling the strings. And if you've turned on ESPN in the last five months, you know there's absolutely no escaping his clutches.
Notre Dame: Montgomery Burns
Been around since the beginning of time; the amount of money and power he controls is massive, absurd, and quite frankly, a little scary. The kind of guy everyone in town loves to hate -- but they'd switch places with him in half a second.
Boston College: Waylon Smithers
Loves Montgomery Burns. Wants soooo bad to be Montgomery Burns. Ain't gonna happen. (Note: This is in no way intended as a knock on Doug Flutie, one of the most awesome people who ever lived.)
Texas: Mayor Diamond Joe Quimby
Powerful, attention-getting, glamorous, yet always in danger of being brought low by its unshakeable vices -- e.g. money, poontang, losing to Oklahoma.
A straight-up thug and proud of it. If you don't fear him, you're a fool; if you don't dislike him, you're just a dick.
Florida State: Police Chief Clancy Wiggum
Oh, man, what a season. It's no cakewalk being an aging football coach, juggling a punchless offense and a growing nepotism controversy like so many juggling balls . . . two, I suppose. Still an authority figure, mainly because nobody else stepped up to take the job, but getting easier and easier to laugh at.
Virginia Tech: Krusty the Klown
Famous, powerful, living the kind of celebrity life anyone in his circle would gladly trade for. Yet each is haunted by his own demons of self-loathing -- Krusty is constantly worried he's going to be exposed as a no-talent fraud, while the Hokies are constantly worried they really are going to be pumping gas one day for the kids over in Charlottesville.
Ohio State: Drederick Tatum
Thugs. They may wear nice outfits, but they're still thugs.
Virginia: Apu Nahasapeemapetilon
Went through long, difficult, trying ordeals to get from where they started out (the slums of India, a 32-77-1 record in the 1970s) to where they are now . . . which still ain't that good, unless you like working in a convenience store or spending your postseason on blue Astroturf. Then there's the whole mustache thing.
Michigan: Kent Brockman
Huge television draws both, and because of that, you just can't quite get away from either the Wolverines or Brockman; they demand your attention. Yet neither is quite as relevant as they think. At least three losses in six straight seasons? Now, at the risk of being unpopular, this reporter places the blame for all of this squarely on YOU, the viewers.
Texas A&M: Disco Stu
Once upon a time, both Stu and TAMU were forces to be reckoned with. Now they are sad shells of their former selves, regarded mostly with head-shaking derision.
In both cases, both of these guys are really on different planets compared to the rest of us. Yet any recruit who'd pass up a shot at NFL dollars for the chance to serve his country is pretty far beyond the rest of us, too.
Georgia Tech: Comic Book Guy
This one I shouldn't really have to explain.
Oklahoma: Superintendent Chalmers
Powerful guys who've risen to the top, or very near, but where do they go from here? Just as Chalmers harbors ambitions of running for higher office, wouldn't the Sooners love to go to a national-title game and not get their asses handed to them this time?
Penn State: Abe Simpson
Old school. Older-than-old school. At times they almost make you worry they're losing it, but even then they demand your respect. After all, have you won 357 D-IA games or fought with the Flying Hellfish in WWII? No? Then STFU, whippersnapper! (Came up with this independent of commenters, but since corroborated by numerous people.)
Wisconsin: Barney Gumble
Stout, hard-drinking, the life of every party -- yet even when things are going well, they're never very far from total collapse. (Also one of those great-minds-think-alike situations.)
Michigan State: Gil the Salesman
All together now: "Damn, that felt like a Big 10 championship season!" It always begins the same with these guys, so hopeful, so full of promise, but they always manage to blow it sometime before the deal is closed. Since Gil is supposedly based on Jack Lemmon's sad-sack character from the film adaptation of "Glengarry Glen Ross," we have some advice for the Spartans: Coffee is for closers. (Thanks to ryno for the suggestion.)
Illinois: Milhouse Van Houten
Everything's coming up Illini! Yeah, sure it is. A sidekick, a second banana, a perennial also-ran. Even when good things happen for them, it ain't really that good, and thus they've become conditioned to accept mediocrity. Linked to Florida/Bart Simpson (q.v.).
BYU: Ned Flanders
Like Vanderbilt/Lisa Simpson, a lonely voice of reason and morality, only waaaay more in-your-face about it. And white -- so very, very white. So white they make George Will look like Young Jeezy. So white they can be seen from space. (Suggested by a number of folks.)
Utah: Maude Flanders
Basically Ned, but hotter.
UCLA: Troy McClure
"Hi, I'm Troy McClure. You may remember me from such recent embarrassing bowl losses as the 2004 Las Vegas Bowl or the 2003 Silicon Valley Classic." Straight-up Hollywood, still a headline-maker, but the celebrity sheen masks a distinct lack of substance -- McClure can't really act, while the Bruins can't really play any defense. In severe danger of being superseded by newer, hotter stars, such as . . .
Oregon: Rainer Wolfcastle
Suffers from some of the same shortcomings as its rival (acting/defense), yet their overall body of work has been more solid of late. And with Nike dumping all of that money into the Ducks' program, they can afford to sleep on top of a pile of money, with many beautiful ladies.
Washington and Washington State: Patty and Selma Bouvier
Washington chose celibacy by hiring Ty Willingham, Washington State had celibacy thrust upon it by being located out in the middle of f#@!ing nowhere. They may have been hot once, but while they may pop up and do something amazing every once in a while -- Wazzou by sneaking into a Rose Bowl, Selma by somehow marrying Krusty or Troy McClure -- life is pretty sad and barren for them at the moment.
Stanford: Martin Prince
Smart. Quite often annoyingly so. Those who feel inferior because of this can console themselves with the knowledge that both Martin and Stanford will be grease spots in short order, at the hands of either a school bully or a Pac-10 team with a remotely competent offense. (Suggested by a commenter.)
Fresno State, Texas Christian, and Southern Miss: Jimbo, Dolph, and Kearney
Nothing-to-lose ass-kickers from the wrong side of the BCS tracks. They're stuck in a dead-end situation, to be sure, but that doesn't mean they won't whip your ass and then laugh about it afterward.
North Carolina: Maggie Simpson
Baby-blue-clad small-fries who spend most of their time sucking, but every once in a while will knock off a major player in a fashion absolutely no one saw coming. Also neither one has ever accepted me into college. (Suggested by ugalee.)
Clemson: Snowball I/II
Any team that can follow up a blowout loss to Wake Forest with an ass-pounding of FSU knows all about having nine lives, and Clemson has died and been resurrected at least as many times as the name of the Simpson family's perpetually walking-on-the-edge housecat. Just as likely to commit an awe-inspiring act of heroism as they are to cough up an embarrassing hairball. (Suggested by a few people.)
Kansas State: Dr. Nick Riviera
At first glance, they appear to have all the qualifications: a medical degree, a busy practice, a recent Big XII title, a devoted fan base. But a closer look reveals that it's all being done with smoke and mirrors. Neither a degree from Hollywood Upstairs Medical College nor a schedule containing Troy State, McNeese State and UMass (yes, K-State really did play that trifecta in 2003) can be considered anywhere close to the measure of a true contender.
Arizona State: Duffman
They always burst onto the scene with great fanfare, a lot of flash, and usually surrounded by a bevy of insanely hot women. Yet when all is said and done, they're usually exposed as just a bunch of drunks. (Suggested by Mike G.)
South Florida: Santa's Little Helper
Both spent their formative years in an environment typified by an endless parade of dog tracks and were later rescued from a life of misery (Conference USA/long nights at Springfield Downs). There are those who would say that their current situations (the Big East/a life of semi-negligent care from the Simpson family) isn't much better, but they seem content to sit there with goofy smiles on their faces, willing to take what life gives them.
Toledo and Bowling Green: Itchy and Scratchy
In the grand scheme of popular culture they barely merit a second thought, but you can't deny that on a boring-ass Tuesday night, when there's nothing else on, they're always good for some offensively oriented turn-your-brain-off entertainment.
Nebraska: Lionel Hutz
"This switch from an option attack to a West Coast offense might be just what I need to revive my flagging football program. Care to join me in a belt of scotch?"
Colorado: Seymour Skinner
They're both the big fish in their respective ponds, but look what those ponds are -- Springfield Elementary and the Big XII North. Um, yeah. So I should respect you because . . . ? Closely tied to . . .
Colorado State: Agnes Skinner
"I don't live with my mother -- she lives with me!"
New Mexico State: Wendell Borton
Best-case scenario at this point is probably just making it through one bus ride/one game without vomiting all over themselves. Probably still too much to hope for.
Duke: Baby Gerald
Crafty nemesis of Maggie (q.v.). Forces to be reckoned with in their own very specific milieus, but at the end of the day they're still just small fries.
Louisville: Luann Van Houten
Not really as hot as their reputations would imply, yet you can't deny that they're a lot more attractive now that they're not stuck alongside the likes of . . .
East Carolina: Kirk Van Houten
Yup, once upon a time you had a situation that was way better than it had any right to be. You may consider those days long gone.
UAB: Frank Grimes
Ain't a harder-working cat around, son. Fighting against all kinds of obstacles to get noticed for their exploits -- yet they seem destined to get passed over for people who can somehow half-ass it and still succeed.
West Virginia: Cletus
Their hillbilly steez leaves them vulnerable to a lot of redneck/inbreeding jokes, but they're crazy like a fox, so don't mess with them unless you're prepared to see some serious damage left in their wake -- just ask the Bulldogs. (Browbeaten into this by literally dozens of commenters.)
Northwestern: Professor Frink
Geek quotient and steady stream of hoyven glayven-worthy screwups in the lab and on the gridiron would seem to indicate that they don't need to be taken all that seriously, yet every once in a while, in the midst of their usual explosions and embarrassing misfires, they manage to come up with a weapon that qualifies as truly dangerous.
Purdue: Dr. Julius Hibbert
Jolly sorts who seem to be able to weather any kind of tragedy -- losing a patient, stumbling through a 5-6 season -- with an "Oh well, we'll get 'em next time" kind of attitude. While this outlook might be sunny and carefree, however, they're eventually going to have to get on the stick and start taking things seriously if they ever want to advance. (Of course, as Kansas State and Nick Riviera have demonstrated, things could certainly be a lot worse.)
California: Dr. Marvin Monroe
Touchy-feely approach seems to be just the ticket on paper, and has been hailed by countless trend-followers looking for the Next Big Thing -- yet nobody who's been through this program, be it one of the Simpsons or Kyle Boller, seems to have improved all that much.
Tulane: Bleeding Gums Murphy
Hard-luck cases you really want things to work out for, even if you have no personal attachment to them, yet paradoxically, their deep ties to the blues mean that any lasting success would kind of negate their underdog status and thus their ability to make people root for them.
Hawaii: Bee Guy
¡Que curiosidad! Out on the fringes, to be sure, but they've each managed to parlay their respective gimmicks into personae that are memorable, if not exactly multifaceted. Consequential or not, they seem like they'd be perfectly enjoyable to hang out with. (Yes, I know everyone was expecting Bee Guy to be Georgia Tech, but come on, Comic Book Guy was perfect.)
Texas Tech: Sideshow Mel
Also gimmick players, but gimmick players who have managed to take their various devices and turn them into a whole lot more media attention than they ever would've gotten otherwise. At times they actually look a good bit smarter than the headliners, but at the same time you can't really see them carrying a show all by themselves.
Idaho and Utah State: Rod and Todd Flanders
Small-time, easily dismissible tykes hailing from some of the Jesus-freakiest places on earth. Barren, ultraconservative existences make even the most minor victories worth cheering about. Main roles in life seem to be serving as easy marks for the LSUs/Ralph Muntzes of the world as they go in search of easy targets.
Kansas: Rev. Timothy Lovejoy
Non-flashy, ultraconservative, occasionally manage to do something that captures the attention of the general public, but this usually lasts only a few moments before everyone turns to hipper, more visible programs. They give it their all every weekend, yet you can't help but think they?d be a lot happier if they could just chuck the whole thing and concentrate on their true passions, be it basketball or model trains.
Marcus Vick: Helen Lovejoy
OK, I know this doesn?t really make much sense, I just had to make one "Won't somebody think of the children?" joke.
Missouri: Jessica Lovejoy
Wicked seductresses who'll only break your heart every single time. Seem to have everything a guy could want, but you're destined to come away feeling disappointed, empty, and used.
North Carolina State: Otto Mann
Two cast members for whom underachievement and relaxed standards have become a way of life. Constantly keep people guessing as to whether there's really any higher brain function going on up there or not.
UTEP and Tulsa: Sherri and Terri
Minor enough that you really don't want to have to pay attention to them, but they're quick-witted enough to be constant thorns in somebody's side. Very strange, even unsettling, coloration.
Southern Methodist: Jebediah Springfield
Each was once an O.G. in their respective universes, to the point where any historical account has to include them virtually by default -- but once their horrible secrets were laid bare to the public, they pretty much became a joke after that. Embiggened by a little face-saving cromulence of late, but they've still got a long way to go before they can hold their heads up high around anyone.
Boise State: Inanimate Carbon Rod
Showered with media coverage and ticker-tape parades, but how much of what they've done is actual accomplishment, and how much of it is simply managing to look good compared to the bumbling incompetents they're surrounded by? Have garnered a truly astounding amount of adulation from simply being in the right place at the right time (and being wielded by the right guy).
San Jose State: Hans Moleman
How is it that these guys aren't dead yet?
The Sun Belt Conference: Happy Little Elves
The Elves aren't real people, and I'm not convinced any of the SBC's members are real D-IA football teams. Crude in their methods, entertaining enough for those with relaxed standards, but most discerning fans grow out of them real quick.
By all means, if you have any additional nominations or changes you'd like to make, suggest 'em in the comments. The Simpsons universe is vast enough that we could probably find an analogue for all 119 D-IA teams (and maybe even a few D-IAAs) if we tried.