By Hunter Ford
Lord knows I cannot support the classless drunks that threw cups and other assorted items at the Georgia Bulldogs last weekend. Itâ€™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 Hutchâ€¦one is okay but the pair are unbeatable.
(Quick diversion: I canâ€™t believe Pepsi has exclusive rights on Bryant-Denny concessions. Pepsi does not mix well with bourbon.)
Iâ€™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 donâ€™t believe they were even functional as binoculars. The â€œbinocularsâ€ 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 dateâ€™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 â€œmuleâ€ 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.
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 couldnâ€™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 â€œnumber oneâ€ sign when the opposing team did something bad to the Tide or an official blew a call.
But I donâ€™t remember anybody ever throwing anything hazardous onto the field or at opposing players.
Maybe all this was going on and I just couldnâ€™t see the trees for the Old Forester.
Some thoughts on last weekâ€™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 yearâ€™s squad had been run ragged by the Dawgs all night. The score was 20-19 and the Tide had possession of the ballâ€¦ fate in its own handsâ€¦ 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.
This Saturday itâ€™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 takeâ€™ em. After last weekâ€™s game, the majority of fans seemed to blame JP Wilsonâ€™s erratic passing more than anything. If Alabama loses, it will be interesting to see how far the love meter goes down for Saban.