Couldn’t see the trees for the Old Forester

By Hunter Ford

Lord knows I cannot support the classless drunks that threw cups and other assorted items at the Georgia Bulldogs last weekend. It’s a shame when a few bad apples spoil the whiskey barrel for the rest of us.

But alcohol (especially bourbon whiskey) and Southern college football go hand-in-hand. They are like peanut butter and jelly, Coke and Golden Flake, Starsky and Hutch…one is okay but the pair are unbeatable.

(Quick diversion: I can’t believe Pepsi has exclusive rights on Bryant-Denny concessions. Pepsi does not mix well with bourbon.)

I’ll never forget the first time I saw someone sneak whiskey into a football game. I was a lad of maybe 11 or 12 years old. At a game at Legion Field in Birmingham, I watched as an older gentleman kept tipping one end of a pair of binoculars into his plastic drink cup.

These were no ordinary spyglasses. I don’t believe they were even functional as binoculars. The “binoculars” were actually a camouflaged whiskey flask.

Yes, sneaking whiskey into a college football game, where the sale and possession of alcohol is strictly prohibited, is a time-honored tradition and a skill passed down from generation to generation.

When I attended The University, it was relatively easy to tote some firewater into Bryant-Denny or Legion Field. Most of the time you could simply put a flask or a pint bottle in you date’s purse. Security in those days never bothered to frisk anybody.

On some occasions there were fellow students who either did not have a date, or had a date that for some reason refused to be the “mule” for the bootlegging operation.

In these circumstances it was still easy enough (in those days) to put the whiskey in the inside pocket of a blazer, or to tuck it into a sock. Some folks, believing that a mere pint of liquid team spirit would not suffice, would wear a wine sack under their blazer. These were flat leather pouches that held about a quart if I remember correctly.

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I recall getting carried away on Ole Whiskey River, sweating 86 proof bullets in 90 degree heat while wearing a jacket and tie in early September. I remember a few girls who couldn’t hold their liquor and some hearty southern belles who could drink ten frat boys under the bleachers. I recall some spirited phrases hollered by both guys and gals and I recall a few flips of the universal “number one” sign when the opposing team did something bad to the Tide or an official blew a call.

But I don’t remember anybody ever throwing anything hazardous onto the field or at opposing players.

Maybe all this was going on and I just couldn’t see the trees for the Old Forester.

Some thoughts on last week’s game:

I wish Saban had gone for two. Seriously. With 1:09 left and Alabama with an adrenaline rush, why not? Overtime has rarely been kind to the Tide, and this year’s squad had been run ragged by the Dawgs all night. The score was 20-19 and the Tide had possession of the ball… fate in its own hands… do or die. I bet a fake kick would have caught the Bulldogs flat footed. Saban was a genius for kicking a field goal against Arkansas with less than five minutes remaining and trailing by seven. That call was booed until his strategy proved to be solid and Alabama won the game.

I miss those all-or-nothing two point plays. Does anybody remember what Boise State did in the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma? I know, that game was an overtime game, but Boise State went for two when it was not compelled to. There is genius in boldness.

Oh well.

This Saturday it’s the Bama-Bowden Bowl. I wish I could be there. The Seminoles looked pretty bad in a loss to Clemson, had to come from behind to beat a really young UAB team, and played a low-scoring game against Colorado. I believe the Tide can take’ em. After last week’s game, the majority of fans seemed to blame JP Wilson’s erratic passing more than anything. If Alabama loses, it will be interesting to see how far the love meter goes down for Saban.