Here's what happens when you merge two Southern institutions
For decades in the South, there have been two appointment television mainstays: SEC football and "The Andy Griffith Show." Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, football will be as big as ever once it returns, and "The Andy Griffith Show" is likely getting more views.
With a little more time on hands these days, I took a stab at combining both of these institutions. Here is my take on which characters go best with each school.
Alabama: Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith)
Love them or hate them, the Crimson Tide have been the steadiest program in the SEC since it formed in 1933. In many ways, it is similar to Andy playing the straight man in a town full of colorful characters.
Arkansas: Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson)
Since joining the SEC in 1992, Arkansas has had a few moments of greatness but lately, the program has the feel of someone that still lives with his mother.
Auburn: Helen Crump (Aneta Corsaut)
It is hard to imagine Alabama without Auburn in the modern football era, just like it is difficult to picture Andy without his future wife Helen. And when these two fight, watch out.
Florida: Ernest T. Bass (Howard Morris)
No character seems more fitting for a fan base notorious for throwing debris at its opponents and fans than the rock-tossing vandal Ernest T. Bass.
Georgia: Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier)
The gameday experience in Athens is the best in the conference and Aunt Bee's supper table is where everyone on "The Andy Griffith Show" wants to be.
Kentucky: Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors)
It is hard to believe that Gomer was on the show for 23 episodes. In turn, the Wildcats have had only 33 winning seasons in their nearly 90 years in the SEC.
LSU: Otis Campbell (Hal Smith)
There is a vicious stereotype that LSU fans smell like booze and corndogs. I’ll bet Mayberry town drunk Otis does too on Saturday night.
Mississippi State: Thelma Lou (Betty Lynn)
Barney's long-suffering girlfriend played second fiddle to him in the way that the Bulldogs do their in-state rival.
Missouri: Ellie Walker (Elinor Donahue)
The town druggist and Andy's girlfriend was only on for one season before leaving the show and Mizzou won the SEC East twice in its first three seasons in the conference before slipping into obscurity.
Ole Miss: Barney Fife (Don Knotts)
In 2004, Ole Miss fired David Cutcliffe, who had given the program its greatest success since the Johnny Vaught era, and replaced him with Ed Orgeron, who went 10-25. That sounds like something Barney would do.
South Carolina: Opie Taylor (Ron Howard)
Gamecock fans are generally the nicest and most courteous to visiting opponents, much like Opie was to every character on the show.
Tennessee: Goober Pyle (George Lindsey)
The Volunteers' greatest success came in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s and Goober was at his funniest when the show was still in black and white.
Texas A&M: Briscoe Darling (Denver Pyle)
Like the mountain-clan Darlings, Texas A&M has a ton of strange traditions that only Aggies understand.
Vanderbilt: Floyd Lawson (Howard McNear)
I imagine at one time, Floyd was a good barber as Vanderbilt was a great program in the early 1900s. But both have since come across as mainly bumbling once the show started and the SEC was formed.
— Compiled by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.