Football Season Over
With the passing of the Super Bowl, another football season is now officially in the books. You could argue that the Pro Bowl is next weekend so we have one more week, but please. My love-hate relationship with football is over again until late August. So what did we learn?
(1.) That pro football really is pretty boring until the playoffs. It just lacks the zeal that college football has. The players are bigger, faster, stronger…heck, titanesque. But with very little tradition and even less loyalty from the players, coaches and ownership to one another, it’s just a business. Like Seinfeld aptly put it, “You’re just cheering for laundry.”
(2.) Despite this, there is a lot of money to be made, and more juniors than I can remember left the college ranks to try and get their hands on a piece of the pie a year early. Was it a good idea? Only time will tell, but inevitably, some will be sitting home watching college football next fall when they could have…and should have…been playing.
(3.) Largely, college football is still simply more exciting. Pittsburgh people don’t really hate Dallas people. Green Bay people don’t really hate Chicago people. And most teams don’t really even have a rival to speak of period. Alabama people really hate Auburn people, and vice versa. Florida people hate Florida State people. LSU people hate everybody. College football is IN us. With pro football, the interest is manufactured. There are exceptions, and I realize regionally we don’t have a team with whom we identify here. But come up with an argument that pro ball is more exciting than college ball and I’ll listen to you. You’ll still be wrong, but I will listen.
(4.) Finally, wrapping up “football season” (though I know college football packed it in several weeks ago), we know that Alabama is light years from where it was just a season ago, and even farther than it was under Shula. 12-2 is nothing to shake a stick at, and while we got our first sniff at glory under Saban this season, it’s apparent that we still have a ways to go…but not that far. The hardware that comes with true greatness is well within reach, and continued improved talent will get us there. That talent continues to flow in under Saban and his staff. Thank you Mal Moore for having the vision to break the precedents in place and make history.
Did anybody catch Karlos Dansby’s dig at his alma mater in the Super Bowl? While the starting lineups were being shown, each player saying his name, position and college, Dansby said Woodlawn High School. Give me all the excuses in the book, but why wouldn’t you say “Auburn”? In fairness, Roderick Hood said “Auburn”, but something led Dansby to turn his back on Auburn and give props to his high school instead. Maybe he is ashamed of the decisions his school has made? I just thought it was kind of funny.
Rick Burgess’ son to Auburn
On his nationally syndicated program this morning, Rick Burgess used his platform to inform the world that his son Blake will be signing with the Auburn Tigers. First of all, for his son, good for him. And after all their family has been through, good for the whole Burgess family. Getting the chance to play major college football at any institution is a treat that very few athletes get to enjoy, and may the hard work he’s put into it so far in his young life continue to pay off for him. Despite the fact he’s going to Abarn, I wish him the best.
But get ready. For the next 4-5 years, the Rick and Bubba show will have regular segments about Blake’s experiences playing at Auburn, as well as Rick’s experiences experiencing Blake’s experiences. There’ll be stories. There’ll be jokes. And free over the Rick and Bubba airwaves, there’ll be hype, hype and more hype about Auburn football. In today’s installment we got a taste of what a spiritual, incredible man Gene Chizik is, not concerned just about winning, but about the boys themselves. We came away with the notion that any thinking parent wouldn’t ever consider letting their son go elsewhere. I almost had to pull over to cough up my breakfast. Chizik may be just that, but at his press conference he came away looking like a goofy salesman who backed into the deal of his life. Good intentions were flying like confetti in the wind. Despite this, the Burgess Auburn bias may have helped them “a little” in their decision.
Here’s the deal. Blake wasn’t offered by Nick Saban and Alabama, so that wasn’t ever on the table. He couldn’t choose Alabama because Alabama didn’t choose him. So don’t get mad at the Burgess family for Blake going to Auburn.
But cutting even further to the chase, Rick is an Auburn fan, and Blake was offered by Auburn. If you’ve listened to the program over the last 15 years like I have, through the little digs he’s made along the way, it is obvious he bleeds orange and blue. He comes from a football family (his dad coached at Jacksonville State), and though he played at Jacksonville State and state’s then arch-rival in Troy State, Rick apparently wasn’t Auburn material back in the day. I can identify with him because I had a similar experience. Bubba is/was an Alabama fan (before fame and wealth took him to places where it didn’t matter to him anymore), and Speedy of course went to Mississippi State. Rick and Bubba are ultra successful because they are naturally funny and because they’ve worked hard to get to the point where they are at. But they have to keep some of their biases close to the vest so as not to offend the population of people with misplaced priorities about college football listening to them. After all, listeners are dollars in their pocket, and they have lots of dollars in their pockets.
I’m just saying this: as Bama fans, be forewarned about what you’ll likely be hearing on their program in the near future, and despite the spin, just be aware of why he committed to Auburn. Just as if you were in his position you probably couldn’t imagine going anywhere but Alabama, he comes from an Auburn family and, in turn, is going to Auburn. His dad just happens to speak to millions of people everyday, so we’ll be subjected to it if we choose to listen to the show…and be reminded that you don’t have to. As radio heads like to tell us, you have a dial that allows you to change the channel and listen to something else. Personally, I don’t want to because I agree with their stances on politics and faith, and just think they’re hilarious in general. But if the Auburn spin starts getting on my nerves, I will. And you’ll do the same. Feel free to let them know if it gets to be too much. Rick surely will understand that while his excitement runs deep, there is a dramatic segment of his listening audience that doesn’t share his elation, and may even find it irritating.
I’ll say this in closing on the subject: I realize I’ve probably ticked off a lot of people here on this subject, but my hat is off to Chizik for taking a chance on Blake. He is undersized, and he’s got some work to do to get himself ready for football at that level. But taking nothing from Blake himself, Gene Chizik bought himself free publicity on one of the most powerful radio networks in this part of the country for the low price of a college athletic scholarship. I really wanted Saban to offer him based on that alone. In some ways, Burgess may be arguably Auburn’s most prized signee this Wednesday, not necessarily for what he can bring to the football field (at least not immediately), but because of what his dad can do for Auburn. You can count on Chizik interviews, Chizik stories, Chizik remotes, Chizik on the hotline, Chizik phone trolls…and on and on.
(And Rick, if this article reaches you personally, please understand where I’m coming from. This isn’t a dig at you or your son, just a heads up for Alabama people on an Alabama blog. We wish you both all the best.)
Saban Inspires Basketball Team
Kudos to whoever asked Nick Saban to speak to our basketball team, and kudos to him for doing it. It’s going to take more than a speech to right that ship, but from the outside looking in, it gives a great show of unity and cooperation within the athletic program down there, and that’s a good thing. Our basketball team is now 1-0 under Saban inspiration.