The Rivalry

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By Shane from Centerpoint

Once again the time of year has come for cross-state rivals Alabama and Auburn to settle the “bragging-rights” issue. Actually, for the past six years there hasn’t really been an issue concerning who’s had the best program. Tommy Tuberville and his Auburn Tigers have enjoyed an unprecedented six-victory run, while Tide fans have been forced to endure the ridicule and shame that comes with being the loser. Let there be no doubt, Auburn’s time on top is about to end abruptly.

In spite of the pre-game hype, the best team usually wins this storied contest. Due to Alabama’s self-induced NCAA probation and a head-coaching carousel that would be hard to match (unless you count Auburn’s offensive coordinators), Tuberville and his War Eagles have owned this State.

With Alabama mired deep in mediocrity, the Tigers remained consistent in their dominance of Alabama. Since defeating the Tide seems to validate Auburn’s worth for a large contingent of its fan base, it would be safe to assume that this has been the greatest era in the Auburn Family’s history.

The debacle (for Bama fans) appeared like it would never end, but that idea has taken a back seat now that Alabama coach Nick Saban has the Crimson Tide undefeated and in position to compete for a national championship.

After seeing the superb performances displayed by this year’s Alabama squad, many Auburn fans who have enjoyed counting off the number of victories (flipping fingers in the Tide fans’ faces), are noticeably silent. It’s almost like they know it’s about to end.

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Truthfully, with the dismal results of Auburn’s season thus far, they really have nothing left to play for – except to upset Alabama’s championship quest and maybe earn the right to play in Shreveport.

Tommy Tuberville also stands to improve his chances of remaining as the Tigers head coach by beating Alabama, considering that the men who pay him will be grading his team’s performance. It may seem petty not to judge Tommy’s entire body of work, but that’s the way the Auburn Family operates.

On the other hand, Nick Saban has the Crimson Tide playing at such a high level that this year’s Auburn game has become, in essence, a stepping-stone to bigger things. In other words, things are basically returning to normal in this series.

Six years of frustration does lend credence to the idea that this Iron Bowl is more important for the Bama nation than any contest between these two in many years. However, Alabama doesn’t need to win the game for this to be considered a successful season, but the Tide does need to post a victory to re-establish the hierarchy.

Auburn fans typically claim that beating Bama allows them to live in bliss for an entire year, reminding their vanquished foe each and every day.

The minute Alabama finishes stopping the streak the team and Tide fans’ attention will turn toward the SEC championship. Hopefully Tiger fans won’t be offended if Alabama re-focuses its attention to Florida – win or lose. After all, there are much bigger fish to kill.

Besides, the Crimson Empire probably wants Tuberville to remain as the Auburn head coach. Surely they want him around so they can see him explain why he was able to beat Alabama consistently only when they were crippled.

An Auburn win would salvage a season on the brink, while allowing them the pleasure of taking down the number one team in the country, as well as handing it its first loss of the year. Plus, the streak would continue.

In turn, an Alabama victory would serve to continue the
Tide’s undefeated journey towards the SEC championship and possibly a thirteenth national title.