When it comes to the SEC, there are a few hard-and-fast rules you have to remember: don't come to the tailgate empty-handed, don't try to out-crazy the die-hards, don't mention Vanderbilt ... and don't try to saddle the conference with a bro-country song so saccharine and commercial-friendly that it causes cavities.
Friday afternoon, the SEC gave some love to a new tune called "Y'all Life," by Walker Hayes. Don't know who Walker Hayes is? He's the guy who brought you the "Fancy Like" song last year that ended up as an Applebee's ad. "Fancy Like" wormed its way into the subconscious of every college football fan like a tick, so much so that you're singing it right now, aren't you?
Anyway, here's "Y'all Life":
It's a remarkably song-like product that sports all the market-tested, minivan-approved button-pushers: high school football, cheerleaders, soaring yet tasteful major-key guitar riffs, Friday night, ice cream, the South, sweet tea, and a whole raft of hey-I-recognize-that references: Dolly Parton, the Olive Garden, Jesus. Sure, it sounds like country music, but it's got about as much relation to George Jones or Johnny Cash as a McRib has to 12-hour smoked brisket.
The SEC rolled out the song to its followers on Friday afternoon, saying it "just might be the song of football season right here" and asking Hayes, "wanna collab[orate]"? To which Hayes responded, "Ummmm YES". Hey, if the guy loves football that much, having the SEC reach out with an offer to join forces has to feel like you just got a free Bourbon Street Steak at Applebee's, right?
Not so fast. After a social media onslaught so fierce it made Georgia's 2021 defense look like a gaggle of puppies, the league's Twitter team took down the "wanna collab?" tweet. Which led to the rather sad scene of Hayes taking joy in an offer that no longer exists:
(We've reached out to the SEC to see if Hayes will get a makeup call.)
Look, Hayes seems like a decent guy. And there's nothing wrong with liking "Y'all Life," even if it sounds like its catchiness was bred in a laboratory. Love what you love. But when you're talking about the South, the home of country music, you've got to bring a little more game to the picnic than this. Friendly and inoffensive is really more of a Big Ten thing.
Contact Jay Busbee at email@example.com or on Twitter at @jaybusbee.