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The damage done

So I picked up this YouTube clip of ESPN’s “Images of the Decade” from the Georgia Sports Blog, and they’re right, it is exceptional. But see if you can spot anything missing:

No Cadillac. No Ronnie. No Jason. No Carlos. Or Marcus or Junior or Courtney. Nothing from 2004. Unless the half-second juke from … someone at the 1:10 mark is from that magical season. Even if it is, does it count when even I can’t tell you for certain who it is?

OK, so it’s very likely Ben Obomanu, No. 2 on the ’04 squad. (Though whether it’s from ’04 or ’02 is anyone’s guess). Still: all the other great college football teams of the decade have their easily-identifiable inclusion here. Coker’s Miami. Stoops’s Oklahoma. Tressel’s miracle Bucks. Carroll’s USC with Leinart and Bush. Meyer’s Florida. Even LSU’s championship teams have a 2003 Sugar Bowl clip and Les Miles’ “Have a nice day.” But the decade’s first and until 2009 only undefeated SEC team? Either bupkis, or the closest possible thing to bupkis.

This is where anyone reading who’s not an Auburn fan rolls their eyes and asks why I’m whining about something so trivial. And I say because that team deserves to be a part of the college football historical landscape represented by a clip like this. Cadillac and Ronnie were important. Jason Campbell was important. The win over LSU and the pass to Taylor that made it happen: important. At least as important as many of the teams and players featured in that clip. And they’re not treated that way by the people who are writing the history of that decade, not here or elsewhere, because they didn’t have their big capital-M Moment in the championship game they were denied by a stupid, stupid system with two holes for three pegs. As a result, even when they do make a cameo in the best-of-the-decade retrospectives, it’s as a cautionary tale, as the hard-luck example-of-what’s-wrong-with-the-system, which is nice but is very different from being remembered as what they are: a great, great football team made up of great, great football players.

So this is where anyone reading who’s not an Auburn fan rolls their eyes so hard they’re examining their own optic nerves, and says So you’re still whining about 2004, then? Yes, I am, because that’s what that team deserves. They can have their history. Fine, whatever. But that only means we have to write ours all the more loudly, all the more often. Some things are worth whining about.

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