“Knights of the TWER Roundtable”—it sounds good and it reads better, because these dudes know their stuff—they read their blogs and their Bibles and they, these dudes right here, that I’ve assembled and asked to answer hard, pressing Auburn questions (because I my very self want to know the answers), have some of the roomiest Auburn brains in the world, full of Auburn philosophy and poetry and prose and real world Auburn experience, geniuses all. I’m an editor and I’ve pretty much forgotten how to have an opinion, but the knights remember, thank God. And so our multi-part, pre-season Q&A series is renewed, and first up is a real humdinger:
Is it possible (in both the physical and spiritual realms) for Auburn to ever have a better season than 2010? If not, how does that affect you as a fan?
Kelly Jolley: Possible. Sure, if by possible you mean “logically possible”. So far as I can see, the sentence, “Auburn just had a better season than 2010” contains no contradiction, not even a hidden one. But I for one think it very unlikely. In retrospect, the 2010 title had it all: wild suspense each Saturday; wild suspense all week down the stretch as we watched How the Newton Turns; the “unFairley!” yelping of Georgia fans; the dancing turned to bowel-seared shell-shock in Tuscaloosa; the Georgia Dome flummoxing of Spurrier; the humiliation of Oregon at the line of scrimmage during Newton’s poorest game of the season. Just thinking about it all again leaves me breathless. At the time, living through all the suspense, it seemed like it would have been better to have just pounded opponents and to have had no off-field controversy. But afterwards, in the afterglow, especially after the beatific vision of the scoreboard in Tuscaloosa, the fact that Auburn’s rivals have had to deal not only with their games against Auburn and the season, but also with their own bilious ressentiment ever since, a ressentiment that has, for many, become the spiritual equivalent of acid-reflux, well, it is hard to know what could be more satisfying that that. Let the haters hate, as a wise man once said, especially when their hate consumes them bit by bit, chewing them cudlike, slowly, over many, many months.
Riley Downing: That 2010 season was my greatest ever as a sports fan, but absolutely. We may never have a team as resilient, or with as dynamic a personality as Cam Newton at the helm, but an undefeated national championship season without even the slightest whiff of scandal or off-field distraction would be pure bliss. It wouldn’t be our first time (or first in a long time if you remember ’57), but I love my second child just as much as my first.
Kenny Smith: In my home we are wrapping up a viewing of the 2010 season on DVD. (The videos are great, if you don’t have them rush out and get a copy.). What you see is strictly from the television broadcast, but I think back on it with memories of being in the stadium, being a part of town, reading TWER, taking pictures and video. I recall seeing Cam Newton at dinner after a game (chicken fingers) and watching Kodi Burns at the Barbecue House, thinking he’d soon never have to pay for another meal in town again. There was Darvin Adams, with his kids at the grocery store, and shaking Lee Ziemba’s massive, massive hand, congratulating him on his success which, for me, was an apology for every time someone in the stadium or in the room blamed a penalty on him.
They’d just opened the Auburn Arena, Steve Spurrier finally got the thumping he’d always managed to avoid. Dean James Foy had just died, so we were a little less for the experience, but no less for the magic. It was, maybe, the last time we can ever stand under Toomer’s the same way again. The memories are so sharp in mind and the colors are so gloriously fuzzy.
Can a team overcome just a little bit more? Can there be just a bit more rumor mongering? Is there some real and pressing obstacle, some real tragedy that they can overcome? Can they do it from any further back in the pack? The next team that does it may find some unique style, or they might be a juggernaut. I don’t think I’ll be able to appreciate it more than the steady workmanship that the 2010 group offered. And, for a while at least, a good long while, I think I can be OK with that.
John Ringer: Yes, it is possible. How about a national championship season with no hint of scandal and the domination of our opponents instead of nail biter wins every week? (more road grader and less roller coaster).
Having said that, every Auburn fan should still be deliriously happy about 2010. Auburn isn’t going to the win the national championship every year. It is possible that it is a long time before we win another one. Savor every memory and moment of 2010. Don’t let the fact that it is gone and there will never be a season like that one get you down—be happy that you got to experience it all. Heck, think about the poor fans of other schools who would kill to enjoy something like that.
Van Allen Plexico: No. The combination of things that year– the undefeated record, the nature of the win over Alabama, Cam’s super-heroics, Fairley’s super-heroics, the amazing comebacks, the horror when Cam-gate first exploded, the elation when it blew over, and the newness of it all… I can’t imagine anything topping that. And I’m fine with it. I lived it. I experienced it. I floated upon it, and it carried me to paradise. I still haven’t come back.
Ben Bartley: Nope. Does make me feel a little indifferent. Also makes me question the very nature of sport (and, ahem, “existence”). Seems to me after something so great happens—something which a lost tribe wandering the manna-less football desert of Eastern Alabama for nigh on 53 years—that something should cease. Or at least allow time for processing and spiritual realignment. If it was me being the President of Auburn Football, I’d had Auburn forfeit every game for the next 10-15 years after 2010. Why play when the best playing has already been played? There are surely points to be made in opposition. But why should we want more than the best? Should we not know when to stop? Is greed and the unquenchable urge to conquer not a key attribute of The Tide?
But Auburn keeps playing football. And we keep watching. And I suppose that’s not so bad, even if it will never be as good again.
John Carvalho: I don’t know that Auburn ever could have a better season than 2010 — an undefeated season, a national championship, a Heisman Trophy, and a comeback victory over Bama on their home turf. To be on campus that season was almost magical. Some might say that the only cloud was the negative reporting on the Cam Newton situation, but any top flight football program is going to face such scrutiny to some degree. You can’t avoid it. I think we will have moments that come close (like 2004), and to me, those are satisfying as well. “All-or-nothing” fandom is just not healthy for yourself or those around you.
John Magruder: Spiritually, I think 2010 was a milestone for Auburn, but it’s hard to claim that there has never been or never will be better. 1982. 1972. 1957. 1989. That’s a pantheon which 2010 can join but not one that I think it could ever exceed. In terms of on-field performance, I doubt we see the like of 2010 for a long, long, long time. That offense—that quarterback!—was a once-in-several-generations machine, with a transcendent talent taking snaps behind a monster line. As a fan, I just don’t expect to see that ever again. There will never be another Cam Newton.
Justin Lee: It’s impossible. Between the games, the scandal, the trees, The Cam, the Heisman, the 28-27, and the winning it all at the apex of the league’s dominance, there’s nothing else a scriptwriter could have put into 2010 and there’s no way it could ever be topped. For me, all of
this happening while I’m a student basically quenched every sports-fanatic thirst I’ve ever had—or at least that’s what I’m
going to tell potential employers that question my objectivity.
Amorak Huey: No. Once in a lifetime means exactly that. As a fan, I’m OK with that.
More topics, including those more immediately relevant to coming-soon Saturdays, will be broached and coached throughout today and the rest of this week. Next up: Do the Knights of The War Eagle Reader Roundtable still thrill to memories of Tommy Tuberville?