Oh, For a Muse of Fire
Oh, for a muse of fire that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention!
Shakespeare, Henry V
Auburn’s phoenix-like 2016 season has been a wonder to behold. From the early uncertain hesitant play of September to the full width and breadth of the season in October, the Tigers have been on a fiery arc of achievement that is breathtaking in its height, power and diversity. Every single facet of the team is showing outstanding ability, discipline and effort that goes far down the depth chart and past even the wildest hopes of the most sunshine-pumping optimists of the preseason.
All future opponents remaining on the schedule save one that looked so formidable in the preseason have faded into obscurity, replaced by disappointing underachieving teams whose coaching staffs, new and old, are suddenly saying those dreaded mid-season phrases to their fan base like ‘rebuilding,’ ‘reviewing all positions’ and ‘concentrating on improving both sides of the ball.’ On the back side you can expect a slew of new and improved head shots on LinkedIn with even broader smiles and additional quotes on team building, just in case.
All the while the fire under this Auburn team has been steadily growing and building at a fever pitch and pace, creating a scorched path of games that may culminate in one of the most anticipated matchups with Alabama this century, even AFTER considering the Camback, the Kick Six, All Six in a Row and that Cruising Cadillac of a touchdown in 2004. The next four games on Auburn’s schedule look not only winnable but merely a trail to be blazed toward a much broader horizon that awaits in Tuscaloosa. It’s fast looking like this year’s Iron Bowl will be a meeting of equals in a suddenly must-see-TV glimpse into the fiery Forge of Destiny. With Auburn lighting up the scoreboard and in their white-hot visitors uniforms, the resulting conflagration may engulf Bryant-Denny Stadium, inflame the fan base, ignite the scoreboard and utterly consume the hopes and dreams of the Bama faithful for an Alabama team that has been billed this season as the best of Nick Saban’s tenure at Tuscaloosa.
But what then? Dare we hope for more? Can this brilliant flaming arc of a season help continue to what might occur AFTER that Iron Bowl? What are chances for further fiery flights of wonder and delight for this War Eagle Phoenix?
Tiger Tiger burning bright, In the forests of the night: What immortal hand or eye, Dare frame thy fearful symmetry William Blake
What if after winning the Iron Bowl, Auburn represents the SEC West in the SEC Championship game and wins that game too? It’s not that far fetched an idea. The likely East Champion will be either Tennessee or Florida, both one loss teams who don’t look nearly as capable as the SEC West teams Auburn has played.
With a further win in that venue, Auburn would be a two-loss team that came within a dropped pass in the end zone of beating the likely ACC Champion, and with wins over an all-everything wire-to-wire #1 ranked team like Alabama, would it be possible for Auburn to not be invited to the show? If the committee is charged to select the ‘best four teams in the nation,’ how could it be said that this on-fire Auburn isn’t in that number, having won out? Especially considering that Alabama might still be ranked in the top 5 with a loss and would be likely to be chosen. Would it be possible to ignore the team that beat them? Especially if it is by a large margin? Would it be outside the possibility of BOTH teams invited to Atlanta or …. or …. Phoenix?!!
That would be an interesting venue. Talk about a team of destiny.
And then? To Tampa to potentially face our old rival yet again at the place the Native Americans named ‘burning sticks’ to complete the greatest, brightest flame-themed ashes-to-all-consuming-fiery-flight-to-the-sacred-temple-of-the-Titan-Hyperion season the Auburn fan base has ever seen.
Ack and UGA said they couldn’t talk, they were busy. I’m beginning to think they’re all trying to avoid me …
Nick Saban was in his office after receiving a package from a fan visiting Damascus on a humanitarian aid mission. Inside there was an antique brass oil lamp with a note apologizing for not cleaning it up before sending it out due to time constraints. Taking a towel, he began to rub it when a Geni popped out and announced that he, Nick Saban, was granted a single wish of his heart’s desire, but with the stipulation that the task would have to be completed in a single day.
Flabbergasted, but immediately thinking of the fan who sent him the gift, Nick gestured to a map of Syria on the wall and said; “How about bringing about peace, prosperity and good government to the people of Syria?”
Now it was the Geni’s turn to be taken aback. He blurted out: “You ask the impossible, master! You’re talking about millions of people displaced! An oppressive government that uses chemical weapons on its own people, backed by a first-world nuclear power, a ruthless terror organization with world-wide financial ties, a frustrated and frightened populace split into a multitude of armed factions fighting each other and both the other two in a confusing maelstrom of woe that may take decades to work out! No, master! Ask another task of thy servant to be completed in a single day!”
Nick sighed. “OK, how about slowing Auburn’s rushing attack and keeping that pass rush away from our quarterback in the Iron Bowl?”
The Geni gave him a long, hard look and finally said; “OK, show me that map again ….”