I knew it. Most of you knew it. I think even Tebow knew it–that his Florida Gators weren’t hungry enough to beat Alabama two years in a row and play yet again in the BCS CG. Those tears on his face were all the proof that I needed. What a monumental game though. Numbers one and two–basically for a de facto national championship, being that all the other teams paled in the rankings. It didn’t seem fair making them play so early–it should have been in Pasadena. Such is life in the SEC these days. The rest of the stable should relish this, but should better get busy living or get busy dying.
My hat’s off to both schools. They represent the conference spectacularly. Never before in CFB have we had any conference play it’s CG with the two top teams in all the land. Yet each team showed chinks in their armor throughout the year. Florida struggled with Tennessee and LSU. Alabama escaped the Vols and a quick-out-of-the-gate Auburn squad. But great teams find a way to win and these are both great teams. The rest of us in the pack were merely bystanders this year, a fact only partly revealed in our records.
So, the unnoticed 362 pound defensive lineman in the room for Auburn fans today is the fact that Alabama is now playing for a national title–three years into The Process. Is this a glass half full or glass shattered against the brick wall scenario? Seriously, Auburn folk. We always compare ourselves to Alabama, right? Should we mock their newfound success because we look at football in the Yellowhammer state as a zero-sum game, or do we congratulate our cross-state cousins on their success? What a delima.
After wallowing in the coaching doldrums for a decade, Alabama threw the keys to the Capstone kingdom at Saban in Hail Mary fashion. We mocked their desperation, but the pass was completed. But it wasn’t the last play of the game, but it was the first. Alabama fans started to believe from that point and they started to build momentum. Even those of us not as partisan curiously wondered why they thought they had hit a home run. What are you Bammers thinking? He’s just a coach.Yea, he won a MNC in Baton Rouge, but this is Tuscaloosa–one of the most glamorous but THE most dysfunctional coaching stop in all of America–run by 8000 trustees. We scoffed as they backed up the Brinks truck even in front of Wayne Huizenga’s. But it wasn’t the money that lured Saban, it was the control. The Tide surrendered their Byzantine powerstructure to the sole hand of Saban. It was a risky move, but remember the old adage about what absolute power does. Okay, that AND it rocks absolutely as well.
The part I hated the most about Saban was the belief of many Bammers that he would eventually run off Tuberville. Little did they know that that appointment with the hangman was made long ago. The fact that they claim his scalp from that blowout of last year really bothers me. The cause and effect was totally wrong. Or was it? Did the Auburn powers just panic, and self-fulfill the Bammer prophecy? There might be some truth to that theory because I do believe that sometimes there appears to be some degree of an inferiority complex with Auburn as it compares to Alabama.
Alabama does have a vaunted program and we will be in their shadow for quite some time. That doesn’t void our accomplishments and diminish the love and loyalty we have for our school. In the last 25 years, we have come close three times to claiming another MNC, but it didn’t happen. We will get our success in time. But how should we treat the success of our most bitter rival? I honestly think that many fans from both teams don’t begrudge the others’ glory, but it’s so hard to find when one will own up to being so magnanimous–especially on the internet.
There is a lot of value in having the SEC win their 6th crown of the12 BCS CGs played, including the last four in a row. Other conferences are being vastly overshadowed. The SEC champion is virtually a lock now for the national title game and it’s all because of the dominance we have had since it’s inception. Even Auburn played no small part by being the sacrifice in 2004. But does conference pride dictate that we should root for Alabama? Could it perhaps be a family thing? Their success this year and our conference’s continued success will ensure that all future SEC champions will be a part of any national title scenario. Can Auburn fans bite their lips and look at the common good, see the big picture? Or will we wallow in misery, green with envy? Each of us has to decide.