T’was the night before football, and all through her latest column, Rheta Grimsley was ragging on Earth Fare and stirring the part of you that will never predict a loss:
(Hmmm… I swear she had some Christmas metaphor or something in there that warranted all that… oh, here it is)
It is Christmas Eve here, or the night before the first football game of the season, a time when even the most flinty-eyed veteran of losing seasons believes. Anything is possible. Oh, yes. This just could be the year. Santa Claus is coming, and in his big bag is a Heisman quarterback. I’ve been good. Please, let this be the year.
Once you have grown up an Auburn fan, listening to Bear Bryant’s mumbled, almost incoherent recapitulation of a slaughter on Sunday television,
you are ready for life — its disappointments, lop-sided advantages, relentlessness and rare, sweet moments. You are ready to do battle with the devil.
And here I am, the age of those embarrassing alums who used to show up for games wearing orange and blue for god’s sake, feeling a stirring because it’s the night before the season begins and this year could be different. So what if our cross-state nemesis is the reigning No. 1 team in the nation, picked by pollsters to remain No. 1 until the End of Time, when the Bear will call his son Nick Saban home? Experts could be wrong.
god God love her.
I like Ms. Johnson. I really do. Her book Poor Man’s Province is on my reading list and I already gave it as a Christmas gift this past year. But let me explain my problem with this column (and yes, I did read the whole thing – it was rather good other than this issue I am about to explain) as it reflects the problem I have with some older AU fans.
I was born in 1982. November of 1982. To a family where, all but for one cousin who went out of state, everyone went to Auburn starting with my granddaddy after WW2.
I am sure all readers of this blog know what happened in November of 1982. Bo Jackson goes over the top to win the first Iron Bowl since Punt Bama Punt in ’72. It would be Pat Dye’s second year at Auburn and Paul Bryant’s last Iron Bowl. From then until this day we, the Auburn Tigers, have beaten the mighty Crimson Tide more times than they have beaten us, including the 6 game winning streak while I was on The Plains. We have gone undefeated the same number of years they have, and have had more teams that could make some claim (albeit the kind of claim they are notorious for making) at being National Champion than they have during that time.
I grew up with Jim Fyffe narrating my Saturdays. My childhood consisted of faint memories of Bo – the Athlete Phenom – in Orange and Blue, Pat Dye beating Bill Curry four straight years in a row and winning three straight SEC Championships. My adolescent years were filled with the likes of Frank Sanders, James Bostic, Takeo Spikes, Stephen Davis, Dameyune Craig, and many more. During those Bowden years we went back and forth with the Tide, them always winning in Birmingham, us always winning on the Plains. They were not our big brother, they were our equal. Then I go to college and watch my Auburn Tigers abolish all doubt about who the dominant team in the state is as they rattle off 6 straight Iron Bowl wins including remaining unbeaten in Bryant-Denny (or Jordan Hare West as I prefer) until two years ago.
Right after the 2004 season (I don’t remember if it was during the 2005 season or maybe 2006) a term was developed around Auburn for bandwagon fans from the perfect season who expected Auburn to dominate everything, all the time, no slip ups, no room for human error and who complained incessantly when they didn’t. They were dubbed “the 04’s”. I am no “04”. I love the team, the school, the family, through thick and thin and understand just as there are highs on the mountain, there are lows in the valley. But the attitude I sense here from Ms. Johnson, and I get from a lot of older Auburn people is that we are eternally sentenced to the role of underdog, while those in red and white will forever be graced with being head of the pack. I know this is because they were forced to suffer through those nine agonizing years in the 70’s and that pompous ass in a stupid hat with his annoying quips. But, I refute that idea of set roles because my 28 year life as an Auburn fan is evidence to the contrary. I know things will not always be easy, and it is not our destiny to never lose. But we do have every bit the chance and the entitlement to be better than that school to the north. I know it because I have seen it. Again, I am no “04”. I am more of an 82.