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Let A.J. and His Mom Root For Whoever They Want, Alabama and Auburn Fans

By on December 31st, 2013 in Football 9 Comments »

                                                                                   A friendship cast in bronze? USA Sports images

Not since the WWI Christmas Truce have we seen such Yultide détente between the annals of mortal enemies, but apparently A.J. McCarron thinks it’s perfectly fine to root on the other team from Alabama in the BCS National Championship game next Monday night, and so does his mom, for that matter. Tide fans are understandably displeased, but is this declaration more than just a token gesture, and should Auburn fans extend their hand to grasp the olive branch? Is it possible in a post-Updyke world?

I’ve often been told and have read that the players themselves rarely live the blood and guts of a hated rivalry as bitterly as the fans do. After all, they are the gladiators battling for our pleasure in the modern day coliseum. While we fans pray to the college football gods, the players are a part of that pantheon. If they want to hail the victors who vanquished them not a month earlier to carry on the banner of state pride into the national limelight, they’re probably far better men than we.

A.J.’s sentiment might not be as questionable if not for the fact that the last time we saw him, he was hustling off the field at Jordan-Hare right as Chris Davis was getting tackled by his teammates in the north end zone. While I can’t imagine the bitter disappointment of that last play, a sportsman would have crossed the field to congratulate his opponents.

Nor can we rule out the fact that A.J.’s stance may have softened after witnessing the harsh treatment of love interest and Auburn alumna Katherine Webb, who probably should have withdrawn slightly more from the pre-Iron Bowl spotlight. Having just written that last sentence, I realize that Alabama fans might easily speak the same way about A.J. in a week or so. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I just believe someone should be able to root for whoever they want without a lot of flack from others. It won’t threaten my fanhood.

Nick Saban openly declared on College Gameday on the day of the SEC title game that since they beat Alabama, Auburn (or the SEC champion) should get a shot at the BCS championship. While I realize that is a long way from hoping that Auburn would win, no one would dare question Saban (until the ink was dry again). Granted, Saban knows where to draw the line, mainly because he’s not a 23-year old college kid.

If you think there’s no precedent is seeing the big picture–even when it’s your biggest rival framing the shot–you haven’t read this blog for too long.  From four years ago, The Case For Alabama survives, even if the comments do not. (One of the casualties of the move from SBN) This was written on the dawn of Saban’s first title–and a year before our own. Who would have guessed that the SEC would soon be on it’s way to having a chance for eight in a row. I really do wish the comments would have made it. I’m pretty sure you guys gave me a little flack.

If you are a big picture person, you can take pride in the fact that our conference–the toughest in the nation–is making a run for it’s eighth straight national championship and the state of Alabama is making a run for it’s fifth. These are records that might not be seen for another hundred years. There is no state with a better one-two punch of college football teams than the state of Alabama. Auburn’s biggest rival is the all-time greatest team in college football history. Alabama’s biggest rival is a top 13 historic team. We play a close series–the closest of any major intra-state rivalry. Because your rival is strong is what makes beating them that much sweeter. Strong rivals win championships–it’s unavoidable. If you ever want to know what a weak rivalry feels like, go ask Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

Roll Auburn, Alabama?


  1. sullivan013 sullivan013 says:

    I think it has something to do with the amount of time and energy these athletes devote to the sport. They know full well how much effort opposing athletes put forth and the level of mutual respect for both them and their coaching staffs is high already. Couple that with the fact that the two genuinely seem to like each other and their families, and it’s more a case of AJ rooting for a friend than a rival.

    This actually highlights two important character traits in the young man. One – He can look past the apparent gulf of animosity of the two fan bases to meet and engage with a fellow athlete well enough to form a bond of friendship, and Two – He will support that friend despite whatever negative public opinion it might generate for himself.

    The shame is that this lesson in a healthy, mature attitude will be lost on a good portion of the fanbase for both programs. AJ went up a great deal in my estimation when this was first reported.

  2. MyAuburn MyAuburn says:

    A lot of these players knew each other in high school and from All Star games where they were on the same team. Now it’s confession time. While I applaud AJ for his “healthy mature attitude” as you said Sully I still find it impossible in my heart to pull for Bammer no matter who they are playing. I will cop out and say that that feeling is not due to a short in my ethical wiring, but to 50+ years of enduring the UAT fanbase. I can say that with a clear conscious because in years past I have found myself rooting for Bama when they played another foe other than AU. It seems like every passing year increases my bias. I expect to not get approval for this attitude but I can’t help it.

    • WarEagleAtlanta WarEagleAtlanta says:

      I think the internet is what brings out the worst in a lot of fans. We all have friends who root for the other team. If you would never say anything so nasty to their face, why do people then say it on the internet?

    • sullivan013 sullivan013 says:

      Don’t misunderstand me. While I respect the player (and many others there and around the league), I have no time whatsoever for the uniform he wears or the team he plays for. For that matter, I also respect Nick Saban’s ability, along with the excellence of his staff, but it doesn’t extend to actually liking the guy or EVER rooting for them whenever or wherever they play.

      If they played Al Quieda you still wouldn’t hear a ‘R*** T***’ from me (though I wouldn’t be above sending down some BBQ ribs and beer to the opposing sideline).

      I actually enjoy watching NFL games when I recognize players from the SEC on whatever team they play on. Once their school jersey comes off, it’s all water under the bridge and I can forgive their misspent youth playing for a rival.

      Except of course for the former Auburn players – they all get a nostalgic ‘War Eagle’ from me as I watch.

  3. Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

    Since we’re playing for a BCS title, I find my DMZ line a little fuzzy and I’m less concerned about day passes across the enemy lines. I’ve even had educated communication with bama fans over the last two weeks. Yes, educated… This time last year, I had gathered up my toys and moved to a secluded sand box where I could be alone.

    BTW, this morning I was sitting having breakfast at IHOP and a De-La-Soul song was playing as back ground music. I believe it to be a sign.

  4. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    Boomer Sooner.

    • WarEagleAtlanta WarEagleAtlanta says:

      But don’t you want to see Big Game Bob eat his words about SEC defenses being overrated? I want to see Alabama shut the Sooners out.

      • Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

        Oh, I’d totally be down with that outcome….but I can’t *actively* pull for the Tide. It feels unnatural. And by unnatural, I mean toe curling, nails on a chalkboard, teeth being pulled by pliers sort of unnatural……I mean, you know, if we are talking about specific football feelings about things.

        So *if* the Tide must** win, let it be a merciless blow out that makes Stoops cry like a baby whose binkie just fell out of a crib……..

        **I’m fairly positive that ESPN’s satellites are set to explode if the Tide doesn’t win the bowl game that they got placed in after NOT being granted an automatic bid into the MNC game…..or maybe they just booby trapped Lou Holtz…whatever. If Bama loses, ESPN will never be the same again…….oh sadz.

        • WarEagleAtlanta WarEagleAtlanta says:

          I have no doubt that had FSU lost on 12/7, we’d be having a rematch of the Iron Bowl 2200 miles from home.