The Duty

Like Jerry, I went to last year for inspiration… and since its tears were so salty, simply borrowed and tweaked.


The duty of this eleven was

To put Tuscaloosa in tears.

There was Smith and Shafer and Johnny Glenn

And Brown and Williams too.

Many others with us came,

And wore the Orange and Blue

For eleven little tiger boys, lad,

For eleven little tiger boys.

Everyone’s mothers and their brothers

Just knew what they could do.

And eleven little tiger boys, lad,

Will break Tuscaloosa’s heart.

She is another that we will smother,

Before we drift apart.

The earliest surviving reference to the Auburn football team as “Tigers,” written by Walker R. Tichenor, Auburn’s quarterback, and youngest son of former Auburn president Isaac Taylor Tichenor, prior to the 1894 Auburn-Alabama game. Which we lost. But listen to the tone…

… and we were underdogs.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for Auburn’s genetic advantage in its rivalry with Alabama. Whether bringing eleven wins or eleven losses or five wins and six losses, Auburn will always enter the Iron Bowl as the underdog.

In the beginning, we owned them. When the fires of football, set by George Petrie, first engulfed the state, Tuscaloosa could but bow the gods of Auburn and pray for dark. Yet even then, in the bowers of innocence and ease and conquest, the Tigers were a priori underdogs, presumed inferior, a mere college fighting… The University.

The wins came, as did the losses. The Bryant years were mostly misery. The Dye years mostly great. They’ve had a streak of nine. We’re on a streak of six. But Auburn, a tiny village, has never entered a game with Alabama, an entire state, without that Tiennamen Square middle finger and the support of heaven.

And it never will.


I often imagine the shift. What will happen? When the wins are even? When we take the lead? When our wins outnumber theirs by double digits? Triple digits?

Though we want it, though we await it like Christ’s return, I once quietly feared that win column dominance would dull the blade that drew the nectar of ’72, of ’82, etc. I feared it would change us.

I fear no longer.

For over the course of the past six years, I have realized that the dynamic forged in the ’60s and ’70s – the wilderness of our fathers, a wilderness that my generation has never known, but that bore in them the hate on which we were nursed – provides Bama fans no alternative to the filthy arrogance they’re known for.

That is who they are.

When we streak again, when the streak stretches to 10 … to 10 x 10 … they will bark and they will howl and they will return to their vomit. But they will never be able to tap the spirit of the underdog. It is a sixth sense kept from them by the facts of the world and by their sin.

Meanwhile, it is Auburn’s birthright. It’s why we won the first Iron Bowl. It’s why we will win the last.

And it is why we have a much better shot of winning tomorrow than anyone on their side dares think (and … shhhh … they’re just not that good).

And it’s why we’re better.

I quote myself:

Auburn is not pro-football, Auburn is not some damn, trendy logo team, we are Auburn University, we are Auburn, Alabama, we are the heart’s hail mary, the twice-blocked punts, we are 1989, we are 1993, we are 2004, hell, we are 1950, we are Christ-painted sunsets, we are hope in things unseen, we are Spirit – I kid you not, we are Christmas, and Coca-Cola, we are Tygers burning bright in the Forest of the Night…


It’s Americana, boys. It’s country boy goes to town.

“Always remember that Goliath was a 40-point favorite over David.” — Shug

So, as Jerry said, gather ye freaking stones, men. Load up the slingshot. Or if you’re Tommy Trott, raise your sword. Tomorrow, we ride.

To everlasting hell with Alabama.

War Damn Eagle Forever.

About Jeremy Henderson

Jeremy Henderson is the editor of The War Eagle Reader and co-host of Rich and Jeremy in the Mornings on Wings 94.3 FM in Auburn. Follow him on Twitter: @wareaglereader / @jerthoughts / @RichandJeremy

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