Capstone Saturdays: Auburn Hell

auburn hell
Editorial Cartoon: Auburn Hell

This is a tall statement, but perhaps there is no worse time in history to be an Auburn fan than right now. If you’re an Aubie, you live, breathe, and die Alabama football. The demise of your big brother across the state is what keeps you going. It’s the focal point of your existence. You would rather see them lose than your Tiggers win.

Today, Alabama stands on the verge of its most successful and decorated season in its rich, illustrious and tradition-filled history. And while earlier this decade nothing could go right for the Tide, today nothing seems to go wrong. It has to be excruciating to be a barner at the moment. Here are seven reasons why:

1. January 2007, Bama hires Nick Saban. After a rough first season, finishing 7-6…ironically potentially the same record Auburn will likely finish with this season yet they call 2009 a “success”…Saban racks up back-to-back undefeated (regular) seasons, equaling Chiznip’s win total in only one of those two seasons.

2. December 4, 2008, Bama loses a heartbreaker to Florida in the 2008 SEC Championship Game, then lays an egg against Utah in an embarrassing Sugar Bowl loss. Surely the making of a program’s fall, right? Nope. Bama responds with an encore that includes 12 more regular season wins and takes the West again.

3. November 27, 2009, Auburn plays its best possible game, employing new formations, trick plays and strategy unseen prior to its clash with the undefeated, highly ranked and Western Division Champs Crimson Tide. They jump out to a quick 14-0 lead. But methodically, Bama comes back. Finally, holding to a one point edge, Abarn sees Greg McElroy methodically eat the fourth quarter clock, driving Bama into field goal range for the go ahead kick…subsequently leaving the door open for Tigger victory, something Bama has been accustomed to doing for years. But this Bama team is engineered by a coach who knows how to deliver a knock-out blow in enemy territory, calling timeout and trumping a run to ensure a touchdown. Then you watch the coach who you’ve convinced yourself is the answer waste 1:13, wandering around in his own confusion while doing his best Les Miles impression. Hard to sleep that night, I’m sure.

4. December 5, 2009. If Auburn couldn’t take Bama down, surely they could sit back and enjoy the Gators finishing the job. Nope. Alabama systematically dismantles the Tim Tebow machine. Bama strikes a 13-0 season on its way to the National Championship game in the Rose Bowl, a storied stadium rich in the tradition of Alabama football. Another tough night to sleep if you’re wearing Aubie pajamas.

5. December 10, 2009. “If the Notre Dame job ever comes open, Saban is gone.” Those words danced in the hearts of every barner out there. Along with phrases like “Saban is a nomad…he’ll never stay anywhere long.” Notre Dame is the ultimate job…and he’s Catholic…oh yea, he’ll go if Weis ever gets canned. Well, Weis gets canned, Kelley gets hired, and Saban stays put, with plans to dominate college football from home base, right here in Tuscaloosa. This must wake you up at night if you’re “fearless and true.”

6. December 12, 2009. But, if Auburn couldn’t beat Bama, at least they could dash their Heisman Trophy hopes. Holding Ingram in check in the Iron Bowl would surely steal Bama’s thunder in the race for sports’ most prestigious individual award. Nope. Mark Ingram becomes the first Alabama player to win the Heisman, and Aubies everywhere have to watch Pat Sullivan shake hands with his new fraternity brother. That picture will burn in a memory for a lifetime.

7. December 13, 2009…and finally, the hardest realization. As a barner, you’re inferior, but you’re not stupid. You’ve watched good football all your life, primarily because the University of Alabama shares the state with you, but you’ve even had a few flash-in-the-pan good seasons of your own. Though attempts for self-brainwashing are somewhat successful, something eats at your conscience that you’re doing yourself a disservice. And no matter how hard you want to convince yourself that Mr. 12-24, Gene Chiznip can compete with three-time SEC Champion and soon to be two-time National Champion, Nick Saban, who now can now boast recruiting/producing a Heisman Trophy winner, you know Chiznip can’t. You know that “AUlmost” is as close as you can hope for. You know 7-5, 8-4 or MAYBE 9-3 (if the NCAA lets you schedule Furman twice) and a Florida bowl are about as good as you’ll do with Chiznip, while your big brother continues to play big boy football and shelve the hardware. But really, that’s not all that different than what you’ve experienced all your life. It’s an Auburn tradition. And doggone it, be proud of it.

Yes, today it’s great to be from Alabama. And before I forget, December 13th is Chizikmas here in our state…the day one year ago that Auburn gave us orange and blue mediocrity for years to come. Hug an Auburn fan today! Merry Chizikmas!