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When the “What If” Machine Works: Auburn vs Cincinnati

As one born in the 80’s, I haven’t had to live through some of the more difficult stretches that many of the Auburn family were forced to endure. While I mock most of the younger Bama nation for having misguided expectations about college football, based on the Tide’s recent run of greatness the truth is that I am not too far removed from the “80’s experience.”

For my Bama friends who read my work, don’t misunderstand. I am not comparing the successes of Bama and Auburn. I am well aware of Bama’s three National Championships in the last six years. I am aware that Auburn hasn’t beaten the Tide in back-to-back seasons since Saban came to town. And, I am well aware that Auburn has never strung together two consecutive ten-win seasons since Pat Dye left the Plains. Even then, Dye needed a bowl game win to pull that off 

I do remember seeing two undefeated Auburn teams miss championships. I remember beating Alabama six years in a row. I remember a Kick Six, and I remember “Go Crazy, Cadillac!” Those are great events that I believe rival Tide successes.  

Perhaps it’s because of my relatively young age that I know mostly success with only limited failures. I do have my share of disappointments in Auburn football that may rival the Barfield years, and I do get it, fans of the older persuasion. At times, I have felt the same levels of exasperation and disappointment of Auburn fans in the 70s. 

The 2014 season was easily the most disappointing season for me. So, here we stand in 2015. Since Tuberville’s departure and the resulting coaching carousel, we have a national championship and another national championship game appearance. We also have three 8 – 5 seasons, a 3 – 9 debacle, and the 2015 season where the Tigers were picked to win the SEC, go the college playoff, and boasted a Heisman candidate who was an actual recruit developed by Lashlee/Malzahn instead of JUCO transfer.

What fans got was a 6 – 6 team featuring an absolute dud of a QB who was more like Jeff Klein than Cam Newton. I wrote on my personal blog almost a year ago that Jeremy Johnson had to be a winner, if only to prove that  Malzahn and Lashlee could recruit and develop QB’s to provide offensive stability instead of lightening in a bottle. That didn’t happen, and worse yet the coaching staff  time and time again looked bewildered, lost, and flat out-coached while offering excuses that didn’t placate my nine-year-old daughter much less donors and fans.

So, Auburn fans, the “What If Machine” could provide you the topping for the recipe for the most disappointing season on record.

Since Tommy Tuberville left, there have been plenty of people who wondered, “what if Tuberville had the opportunity to coach against Auburn.” It’s been a novel idea of little consequence until now. A Cincinnati vs Auburn game in Birmingham was a very real possibility, especially since Missouri declined any invitations to go bowling. However, yesterday, reports came out that Cincy would be going to the Hawaii Bowl.

But “what if ” they had matched against Auburn in Birmingham. In my opinion, it would have added insult to injury. There would have been no upside in playing Tommy Tuberville’s Bearcats led by Notre Dame outcast QB, Gunner Kiel. Losing to the Bearcats would have ensured a losing record and perhaps be the worst thing that could happen to a struggling Auburn program seeking stability following the rollercoaster ride that has ensued since Tuberville’s firing after a decade of mostly winning.

I understand what a bowl means to players, coaches, and fans. Before everyone calls me a Debbie Downer, know that I am fully aware that going to, and winning, a bowl game awards the team 15 extra practices and rewards the players for their hard work. For the Auburn fan base, it means a chance to celebrate a winning season from what has otherwise been a completely forgettable year.

A possible loss to a coach who once defined Auburn though, would have added a rather large question mark about the future of Auburn’s football program to those that are already there. 

12 Comments

  1. Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

    Yeah. This article was written around Monday, but with our editing and schedule, it just made it out.

    Thanks for the reminder, I updated it this morning to reflect the news.

  2. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    Maybe Memphis University or Duke university? [in the Birmingham Bowl]

  3. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..Pat Dye did get us back to back Ten-win seasons, in 1988 and 1989. We went 10-2 both years, and won a share of the SEC Title in each.

    …..I remember the Bearcats! Pat “hung sixty” on them a couple of times for Homecoming.

  4. Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

    Thanks Acid, I needed to add a caveat to that and missed it.

  5. Im4Auburn says:

    Glad this “What if” won’t take place.
    BTW, cool picture at the top, reminds me of the photo shopping images that Derrick Roberts used to post.

  6. Please say it ain’t so. The Birmingham Bowl. The pit of all bowls and stadiums. the only worst stadium I can think of is Snitz Snider Stadium in Bessemer. It is probably as much Auburn’s fault as anything else but some of our worst moments have come at Legion Field. We were robbed there more than once. Remember the mud bowl. I have recently seen the clip showing a alabama player stretching the auburn players jersey just as he had reached for stabler. The offical was three feet away and wouldn’t make the call. We were forced to play there because teams didn’t want to come to small town Auburn, the greatest small town in America. The Legion was also alabama’s home field. 50/50 split in tickets? A joke. 10,000 or more ushers, refreshment sellers, and parking atendants were alabama dudes every year, and they came in and hollered rol tid after the first quarter. The drink sellers just sat in the isles on their drink cases. The only buildings these peacocks had been in at tuscaloosa were the stadium and the tee shirt shops. Still they were red neck alabamians. So Auburn is forced to go back there. To say the least, I am miffed. I wonder who made that decision? Could it have been someone with ties to —-? Wouldn’t surprise me. Again it was probably Auburn’s fault. We could have and should have won more games. Some of those losses were an embarrassment. Thanks to coach. But still, a stab in the heart. I won’t go but if you do, carry 4 good tires in your trunk.
    I wonder if any other War Eaglers feel the same as me. I haven’t seen anything in print, nor have I heard any one comment. Maybe I am the jerk that alabama pokeys say I am.
    Second Bridge.

    • Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

      I feel the same way as you Second Bridge. I’m old enough to remember how poorly Birmingham treated Auburn in the past. The truth is that nothing about Birmingham has changed in that regard. The city is infested with a mixture of actual UAT alums and their typical Wal Mart reject fanbase. Legion Field should have been demolished years ago the area surrounding the stadium pathetic.

    • WarSamEagle WarSamEagle says:

      Often wondered if your really an Auburn person? Now I know. Auburn people do not call themselves “WarEaglers.” We’re Tigers. War Eagle is our battle cry.

  7. JRoweMDN says:

    There is a reason Tubby is sitting at Cincinnati instead of one of the dozen openings that have been out there since he left AU and it is not because he wanted to live in the snow. He was never a true high power coach. While I am disappointed with where we are now, I have no confidence it would be any better with him. I don’t like the Mark Richt call standing outside looking in, but the truth is he was never going to win and SEC or National Championship choking 2-3 times a year in key games. I sometimes wished I had gone to an ACC school where mediocre is OK.

  8. In many ways, a loss to Memphis is just as bad. And, its looking more and more realistic.