They have little to zero respect for your team. If you show any signs of wavering or weakness, then you’ve already chummed waters for their shark-like vitriol.
As the old (and slightly amended) adage suggests: If you can’t stand the heat, then step away from the flaming burn barrel that is the Facebook page SEC Throwdown.
But despite the carnage regularly distributed hourly on the private page among some of the most ardent SEC fans this side of the Mason-Dixon line, the hardened members possess hearts bigger than all of Dixie.
“I like to call it ‘sports banter comedy’,” Travis Elsberry, a founding member of SEC Throwdown said of the group.
Elsberry and several others founded SEC Throwdown on Sept. 30, 2015, and quickly experienced meteoric growth. As of the national title game, the group boasted more than 5,250 members overseen by nine administrators with an eye on the page at all hours of the day.
Not too shabby for a collection of fans that would regularly battle it out against one another in the comments sections of SEC-related websites, such as SEC Country. Creating their own forum seemed to be the logical thing to do.
The majority of the original members were Georgia and Tennessee fans, with a few Alabama, Arkansas and LSU fans smattered between. SEC Throwdown allowed them to connect on a more intimate level and put bodies, voices and humanity behind the keyboards, Elsberry said.
Creating their own page was akin to taking their heated discourses to the parking lot. At SEC Throwdown the smack-talk eventually evolved over the years, developing comedic overtones — thanks in large part to the group’s affinity for ruthlessly funny memes.
The page’s evolution also grew to include engaging features such as fantasy games, season previews and bowl pick ’ems, as well as the popular live game threads.
While the quick success was an unexpected surprise, the idea now is not to see rapid growth, but, rather, smaller gains with new members whose interests extend to other sports such as basketball and baseball.
But no matter how many new members they add, it’s those that they’ve lost that will forever leave an indelible mark in their lives.
Jacque Dillard, Bulldogs Super Fan
Jacque Dillard was a diehard Georgia Bulldogs fan and an SEC Throwdown member since the page’s inception.
Dillard could dish it as well as she could take it and quickly endeared herself among her fellow SEC Throwdownians.
“I would be catching absolute hell,” Jimmy Welch, a Tennessee fan, said about Dillard and the Bulldogs in the National Championship Game. “She’d be all like … JIM-AYYYY!”
That made her unexpected death on Nov. 8, 2016, at the age of 41, all the more devastating. While some may believe that Dillard missed out on Georgia’s magical season, others know deep in their souls that Dillard has played an ethereal hand in the Bulldogs’ run toward destiny.
“She’s got the best seat, yelling ‘Go Dawgs’,” SEC Throwdown member David Fuller said. “RIP, sweetie.”
When it came time to honor the beloved second-grade teacher at Vanderlyn Elementary in Dunwoody, Ga., creating the Jacque Dillard Memorial Golf Tournament was the easiest decision the page’s members ever made.
“Jacque’s name attached to it makes it something special,” Elsberry said of the tournament that funds the group’s philanthropic endeavors.
Jacque Dillard Memorial Golf Tournament
Everyone remembers their first SEC football game. The sights, sounds and smells that cradle the South every fall Saturday are uniquely distinct — from Columbia, S.C., to Columbia, Mo., and all hallowed haunts in between.
The members of SEC Throwdown hold the memories of their first games in such high esteem. So much so that they’ve decided to pay it forward through their annual charity.
This spring the group held its second annual golf tournament and the first dedicated to Jacque Dillard. All proceeds from the event goes toward sending children from disadvantaged backgrounds to their first-ever SEC game.
The group raised a little less than $500 during its first year in 2016, with most of that money coming from the pockets of tourney founders. That total jumped to $2,000 after the tournament’s second installment held on June 4, 2017, at Stonebridge Golf Club in Rome, Ga.
The money was enough to send three kids to Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee games with all expenses — ranging from gas, food and hotel — paid courtesy of SEC Throwdown. Members even volunteered their own season tickets to the kids.
“For us to beat up on each other all day, then do something like this is pretty amazing,” Elsberry said. “There’s nothing better than seeing those pictures of those kids at their first games.”
Plans are already underway for this year’s tournament in Nashville, with the goal of sending children to Arkansas and Florida games during the 2018 season. Elsberry and the group hope to expand their efforts further in the years to come. Eventually, they’d love to be able to annually send a deserving kid to a game at each SEC school.
It’s a lofty goal, but one whose rewards far outweigh the effort.
The 2017 season might end with Alabama and Georgia in the College Football Playoff title game. But for the members of SEC Throwdown, the season is never truly over. On Tuesday after the dust settles, the group will go back to trash-talking grind.