Home / Columns / @KennySmith does the Iron Bowl (with commentary by Kenny Smith)

@KennySmith does the Iron Bowl (with commentary by Kenny Smith)

The set up: Auburn had lost two straight to Alabama. The Tide came into the game favored, hosting the second ranked Tigers. Alabama brought a 20-game home winning streak, but Auburn was 6-1 all time in Tuscaloosa.

The result: The Tigers won 28-27, in the largest come-from-behind win in school history, to finish their regular season a perfect 12-0. (Speaking of memories, check out these.)

Saved below are my stream of consciousness Twitter feelings of the game. The bold comments are after-the-fact thoughts.

Wrapped up my Pick’Em picks. Tie-breaker: Who will score the most points? Auburn. The least? Alabama.

Bryant-Denny: Do not make Cam Newton angry. You wouldn’t like Cam Newton when he’s … On second thought, go ahead.

Students, you just sort of expect that. Goes with the pageantry of the game. From the stadium people? I’ll assume those are adults who should know better, but are stooping to the lowest common denominator. Think the Auburn people didn’t notice? Nice of them to run Thamel’s piece, no?

What I want: A good, clean, healthy game. And crushed Alabama egos.

And the paradigm shifts again. Bama fan: that means a systematic arrangement or certain fine-tuned standards.

Called it at kickoff. My, how our emotions swayed between here and there.

Did you notice when Uncle Verne said “worst fears” there was Cam? Yep.

Verne’s definition was right until he said it was a small degree of distaste. (Doesn’t apply to my three vetted Alabama friends.)

Yes, that show prep of reading any comment on an al.com page was top quality.

Oh Gary, you crack me up. “Neither picture shows it, but he fouled him.”

Still don’t see that pass interference.

Nicky is scared of Demond and Onterrio. He should be.

Can’t count jokes in 3, 2, 1….

My favorite: People talk about Bama’s championship inflation, but today proves they really just can’t count.

Did Gary Danielson just whooo? Really?

I’m not a fan.

I love me a good afternoon coverage bust.

Seriously, it is an interesting experiment in human psychology almost as good as the “I got it … I got it … YOU GOT IT!” stuff in baseball. No? Not buying it?

There is no cheering in the pressbox, but Gary Danielson is getting breathless. And Chizik better challenge his line again.

No doubt they are the engine that make the Gus Bus go this year, but the O-line was getting abused for a good long while in this game. But they once again pulled it together. Never bad-mouth an offensive line. Regret is a powerful thing.

Whooo! Timeout called! Moral victories, down 14-0, are no fun.

The only thing fun about being down 14-0 is knowing you aren’t down by 21.

Auburn, you’re getting screwed.

I stomped around a family yard playing with the younger kids yesterday in a more demonstrative fashion and I did not get penalized. Denmark smells.

Greg McElroy runs, yells, stomps, is not flagged. Investigate that, Slive.

This would be a good time to have adjustments in place, Tigers.

Antoine Carter! You so crazy! What hustle, Auburn man!

Though the turnover netted nothing on the scoreboard, I think we can safely call this a turning point in the game. There are many guys on this team who exemplify the things we’d like to see as the best of us. You have to include this play and Carter’s hustle as a tremendous example. He stayed in the camera shot the whole way. Watch him run and it is clear. He wanted that ball.

0-24. Stop or no, that’s still trending the wrong way.

Kodi Burns, we saw him at Barbecue House a few days ago. He had breakfast covered in awesome sauce.

Nice to see him make some good grabs today. And in clutch portions of the game. He’s certainly earned that.

You can tell that ref is on the take. He looked TERRIFIED calling that penalty against Alabama.

TOUCHDOWN AUBURN! Cam Newton to Emory Blake! Now we can play a football game.

Was it just me or did 7-24 feel oddly like the game was already winding up for Alabama? I mean even in the moment, everything else just seemed inevitable. And I’m not that blindly optimistic a person, either.

Can’t scream “BALL! BALLBALLBALL! BALL!” loud enough.

Nick Fairley gentle placed Greg McElroy on the ground, apologized for dripping his perspiration on the quarterback, inquired about his family’s holiday and recorded a fair play public service announcement. And still no one could find the ball. This was perhaps the most anxious moment of the game to me.

You don’t want to oversell it, but the first drive to start the second half is more than a little critical.

Right here I’m thinking about Chizik’s quote from earlier in the year, the one about chalk flying at halftime.

Alabama fans don’t have to ready Moby Dick, Blackberry just spoiled the end for them. Interesting commercial, though.

TOUCHDOWN AUBURN! Cameron Newton to Terrell Zachery for 70 yards!

Is it possible for a team leading 24-7 to start the second half as tight as Alabama has? Wow. Take advantage, Tigers.

That’s a different team than you saw in the first 15 minutes. It was like we all subconsciously decided to together cross into an alternate universe where Alabama stunk it up on the field or something. Did we do that? Was the Million Dollar Band that boring?

Funny how this defense can go from toothless to “Ewww, they tackle too hard” as the breeze blows.

Aside from the big plays that slip through, the ones they are so desperately trying to prevent, I no longer have qualms about the Tigers defense. As I’ve said here before, it is what it is. People whining about tackling should really try a new sport. Football is a violent game. All of the tackles you see here are perfectly within the confine of the rules. Don’t like the rules? Change the rules.

Seriously, the ref calls a penalty and his voice quakes. It’s like he’s afraid of someone in the light stands or something.

Cam Newton is smiling again.

I can’t help it, but it makes me think of Jules Winnfield’s analysis of Ezekiel 25:17.

I’m cheering so hard for Mario Fannin.

The guy has done everything he’s been asked to do since he arrived on campus. He’s never stirred up anything. He’s working on his second degree. He deserves a lot of success. I just wish he could have scored here.


Eltoro Freeman is a bad, bad man.

Of course he glowered at the guys in Crimson after a big stop. I was afraid he’d get flagged for affecting a meanie face. Mean defense!

The Auburn defense — the maligned, can’t play, can’t cover, tackles too hard defense — holds the supposed juggernaut again.

I’ll go all in with them: they never stop.

Cameron Newton likes play fakes and thinks Ramma Jamma is stupid.

TOUCHDOWN AUBURN! Newton to Philip Lutzenkirchen! 28-27. @PhillyLutz43, a 6-4 bowl of Justin Bieber is a scoring machine!

Bracing for the “Yall hurt Julio!” complaints. #heplaysfootball

Game of inch. Yes, inch

Row Tahd is Latin for “incredible spot.”

I’m just going to assume that when SkyNet takes over football will survive. I only hope the officiating is then conducted by the machines. Maybe it’ll be a little better.

Come on McElroy, get up. I don’t need to see Saban spank McCarron again. (Seriously, Greg, hope you can walk it off.)

Hurry back, number 12.

Woozy is double-plus ungood. The positive was that Saban said after the game he was OK. Glad to hear it.

@ikepigott I second @TWAY_Kris. Can’t we all agree these little arguments are ridiculous and not worth the feigned moral outrage?

Ike, who is my friend and a good guy despite his Alabama fetish, is suggesting people are cheering that McElroy got hurt. I don’t disbelieve Ike, because he has a terrific degree of credibility, but my experience is similar to Kris’ who saw no cheering about this. No one in my stream was happy about the injury.

This devolves to the circular and straw man argument, of which most everyone has been guilty, about the class of any given fan base that isn’t yours. Let’s just leave trailers and tractors and Walmart and Volkswagens hanging from trees out of what has become a terrific game. And, keep our eyes firmly on the ball, a very bright young man with a big future ahead of him is hurt. If this is too reasonable for you, let me know.

Cam over the top! Getting ready for Toomer’s!

I find it remarkable that a team of potential perfect destiny is coming down to a punt.

If the 24-point comeback was to preserve an undefeated season, this punt — on a night when no one seems to be kicking well — is what must defend it. Just a bizarre development in the game.

I find it remarkable that a team of potential perfect destiny is coming down to another improbable defensive stand.

Turned out to be not so improbable. But even as I’d felt comfortable about the outcome since 7-24, this was a fine opportunity to feel a little uneasy.

T’Sharvan Bell is your MVP if he catches that ball.

He just seemed to be in some key places throughout the game.

Tonight we rename the joint Chizik-Tuberville Stadium!

Twelve and oh. Twelve and OH! TWELVE! AND! OH! War Damn Eagle!

Love ya, Rod, and I miss ya, Jim.

Good Lord willing we’ll never have to see anything like V-E day. V-A Day at Toomer’s is plenty ecstatic.

I don’t know why I was thinking this as I walked up College Street. I’m not really comparing these two things. That would just be silly. But think about it: you see pictures from that day in New York and elsewhere, but you don’t know what it sounded like, which is a separate and lost experience. I know what relief and joy and exultation at Toomer’s sounds like from blocks away and that, I think, is enough. Plus, I like V-A Day. I’m coining a phrase. Make this happen, TWER.

49 degrees and feeling fine. Hey all you Tigers in west Auburn, make a quick and safe trip down 82. We need you at Toomer’s!

Police are trying to clear the corner and the bank sign says 48-degrees, but no one is leaving. The family reunion continues.


Here’s Toomer’s Corner in a nutshell, for the uninitiated. Toilet paper materializes from nowhere. If you didn’t bring any, or the bathrooms from the nearby establishments have all been locked, you will find an enterprising young man who will sell you a roll or three for a modest profit. You pull off a tail, throw that over your shoulder and heave the roll into the storied oaks that shade the corner of campus where downtown and the university meet.

(I’m not a big proponent of rolling the corner for every little thing. We’re overdoing it at risk of the trees’ health, which have toilet paper, cement over their soil, downtown congestion and a recent drunken driver to overcome. I wouldn’t mind if we could come up with a consensus for when a victory is “big enough.” I don’t roll the trees much anymore for those reasons, though I did throw a few tonight. I don’t begrudge anyone the chance to roll the tree.)

When friends or family come to games I make sure to take them. They should visit because this isn’t about rolling the trees, but about the spirit of the moment. I’ve been under the trees when they were lit on fire. I’ve been under the trees in rain and under cold fire hoses — because some idiot lit them on fire. I’ve climbed the stones and been beaned with the industrial strength rolls. I stood next to a police officer who had to rescue the street signs after a raucous celebration. I’ve watched people shimmy all the way up the light poles.

I don’t recall having ever witnessed a frantic moment at Toomer’s Corner. If there’s a more inclusive, family friendly celebration of something as silly and fleeting as a football game, I don’t know what it is. People jostle for position, but give up toilet paper to strangers. Kids always seem to win if there is a tie over a roll. People, shoulder-to-shoulder and chest-to-back are patient and help each other with pictures and walking through the crowd. I gave three or four rolls to kids to throw tonight. I taught one little girl and two young ladies how to throw their rolls tonight. You see a lot of this sort of thing all around.

Tonight a guy was stumbling a bit and I placed my hand on his shoulder. He turned and said “What’s up?” as if he suspected I was trying to start something.

“I’m just making sure you don’t stumble into my wife,” I said. He smiled, I smiled. He went on his way.

It isn’t unique to this place, but it is one of my favorite parts of Auburn: where strangers know each other, calm in the face of exultation, proud to be in a great place.

Kenny graduated from Auburn at the turn of the century. He worked in newsrooms across the region and then earned a master’s degree at UAB. He met and married a Yankee, who declared her Auburn allegiance at her first home game. She’s now on the faculty at Auburn. He’s finishing his PhD at Alabama and teaches at Samford University. See him online at www.kennysmith.org and @kennysmith.

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