Stay strong. A message to all my brothers and sisters in orange-and-blue, back home in what yesterday’s comment thread universally agreed was Occupied Alabama: this too, shall pass.
Remember: they won of these things in 1979. It took them another 13 years to get the next one, and it took them another 17 years (and countless fiascoes) before they got this one. Yes, they have an immensely talented roster and their coach is the evil robot Maximilian from The Black Hole. But the last time he won a crystal football, he wasn’t even at the same school two years later.
The point: I can’t guarantee anything. But the odds are firmly, firmly against this happening again anytime soon. Stay strong. We’ll be OK.
Because. I recognize that this and the things I wrote yesterday are a lot easier to write for someone who isn’t surrounded by an avalanche of crimson crap on a daily basis. Still: as inextricably tied to Alabama as Auburn is, as difficult as dealing with houndstooth-mad coworkers and relatives and radnom loudmouths at the bar may be, last night’s win had nothing to do with our team.
Well, maybe not nothing. But certainly not much; with our team it’s nothing but sunshine, lollipops and rainbows right now. Our laughingstock of a coach just engineered a three-game improvement in one season with what I maintain was a less-talented team than the final one fielded by his predecessor. The recruiting class our team is now a month away from signing will rank amongst the best our team ever landed, a deep and immensely talented crop of players that will solve many of this year’s crippling depth issues overnight. Even if our team’s chief rival is at the very pinnacle of the sport, the majority of teams in our conference and on our schedule seem to be either spinning their wheels or actively backsliding while ours is moving inexorably forward.
So: regardless of what happened last night or how many “Roll Tahd!”‘s we’re subjected to over the next several months, the fact remains that’s it’s a hundred, a thousand times better to be an Auburn fan today than it was on this date a year ago. It’s not even close.
And one last thing. From the Auburn perspective, there’s a very simple and very available method of preventing Alabama national championships: beating their sorry asses. If it really means so much to Auburn that Alabama not win national titles*, we’d best quit relying on other teams to do our dirty work for us, then.
Which, of course, is exactly what our Tigers have done for the majority of the last 30 years, and will do again soon. War Eagle.
OK, so about the game … the requisite scattered thoughts:
— Obviously it’s a very, very different game if McCoy’s healthy, but that’s the risk you run when your backup is a true freshman and you decide it’s never worth developing a running game, right? Considering what a complete nonentity McElroy was for the entirety of the game (save for his application to Nosepickers Unanimous), it’s safe to say that he could have been knocked out of the game on the first series and Alabama wouldn’t have missed more than a beat or two here or there. It’s too bad Texas’s roll of the dice came up snake eyes at the worst possible time, but they’re the ones who chose to roll them in the first place.
— There can be no better encapuslation of who and what Nick Saban is than last-night’s 45-second sequence, in which he orders his team to score a meaningless, classless touchdown on a team that had already conceded the game*, then responds to his celebratory Gatorade-bathing with brutal disgust and not even the tiniest hint of joy. The reason “Saban is a machine” jokes have become de rigeur over the past couple of years is because the very signs and signals we associate with being human–emotion, empathy for others–often seem to be beyond him. At times like that particular sequence, Nick Saban is not something we can even recognize as a person.
*Even one of my Alabama friends disagreed with the touchdown, texting me that it was “Meyer-like.” Given that Texas had the opportunity to call a timeout and extend the game and didn’t, I couldn’t agree more.
— Do I get to crow about having Marcell Dareus on my All-SEC ballot now? I do, but I shouldn’t? Gotcha.
— On the one hand, there’s not much doubt that Alabama was the best team in the country over the course of the season. But on the other, they say you need some luck to win a national title, and the Tide sure as hell didn’t disprove that theory: the blocked kicks against Tennessee, the missed call against LSU, Chris Todd and the Auburn special teams’ charitable donations to the Alabama Field Position Fund, and finally–the coup de grace–Colt McCoy lasting all of one series. And the ‘Horns still outgained them by 13 yards! It’ll probably be a while before we see a national champion who was outgained three different times again.
— It’s fair to say “What was Mack Brown thinking?!?,” but not for the play that’s gotten the most attention. The shovel pass before the half should have been a safe, low-risk play with a good chance of picking up enough yards for Hail Mary range against ‘Bama’s deep coverage; it’s not Brown’s fault a) Gilbert threw it too high b) the back inexplicably let it get out his hands (after the initial ricochet, he still has an easy chance to grab it) c) his team’s attempts to tackle Dareus were just this side of pathetic. No, Brown’s worst mistake was deciding to kick a field goal from the freaking 1-yard line with McCoy already out of the game. Because leaving four points on the board is always a good idea when you don’t know if your star player will see the field again.
— YES YES YES K-SCAR they most certainly will repeat next year and no doubt about it. Nevermind that Florida returned more this year than ‘Bama returns next year–they are destined for a second straight championship. This is correct. Please repeat as often as possible in as many possible ways for the next eight months, and please ask your media colleagues to do the same, for you will all be proven correct.