Wednesdays with (Oscar) Whiskey: Reporting back from College Station

Thomas B. Shea

In this edition, Oscar talks about the trip up to College Station, Aggie fans and tempering our expectations.

Hello, once again, dear Auburn Tiger fans from all across the land. It is I, Oscar Whiskey, and my, my, my what a weekend we had. For the first time in six and a half years, Auburn journeyed into my home state of Texas to take on Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, his go to receiver Mike Evans and the Texas A&M Aggies. After last year's embarrassment in Auburn, a whole offseason of listening to TAMU fans boast and strut that this was their year, I was more than ready for our Tigers to serve them a fresh entree of comeuppance with a side of crow. And what a fine meal it was that our Tigers, in their all-whites, served to their Aggie hosts. What was Auburn's return for such great service? Well, the No. 11 spot in the first BCS standings of the season after spending the previous eight weeks not ranked. Thanks for having us over TAMU, I hope we didn't scuff up the lace too bad.

An Offseason Conversation

With only a couple of weeks left before the start of the 2013 season, I was hanging out with a good friend of mine, @dangjim, who is a huge Texas Longhorn fan. Like all good college football fans, we were counting down the days till the start of the season, discussing who we thought was going to win it all and asking each other about our respective teams. When @dangjim asked me how I thought Auburn was going to do, I told him, "8-4 easy."

@dangjim: "Really? You think they'll go 8-4?"

Me: "Yep. Auburn will win all of it's non-conference games, and that includes both Wazzu and Arky State. And they'll also go 4-4 in the SEC this year."

@dangjim: "Who will they beat in the SEC?"

Me: "Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Arkansas and Tennessee. As much as I'd like Auburn to take down Georgia or ‘Bama, I don't know if Auburn is ready to beat them yet."

@dangim: "You really think Auburn is going to beat Ole Miss?"

Me: "Yeah, they're young and that top-ranked recruiting class doesn't mean anything yet. Mississippi State had an easy run the first half of last year and then got torched the rest of the season, plus they lost some key dudes. Arkansas and Tennessee are worse for wear than Auburn is, so we'll beat them, too."

@dangjim: "You don't think Auburn will beat Texas A&M? Dude, I want to them to lose. Please beat them this year."

Me: "Oh, Auburn will beat them, too."

@dangjim: "Good but that makes 9 games."

Me: "What?"

@dangjim: "You said Auburn will go 8-4. If they beat Texas A&M that'll make it 9 wins."

Me: "Shut up, math nerd."

Saturday evening I got the following from my friend. He was happy, to say the least.

WarDrunjEagle Abroad

I know I have mentioned before that I'm from Houston and that College Station is a little more that 90 miles from where I live. However, the last time I stepped foot onto TAMU's campus was nearly nine years ago and it was to watch the Auburn men's basketball team take on TAMU -- it was my mom's idea, not mine, I promise. I had been to Bryan-College Station twice before then, but neither of those times are all that worth mentioning. So, I know how to get to College Station, but I didn't know where I was going once I got there (i.e. where I was going to park, watch the game, etc). Thankfully, I saw an F-150 with an Auburn flag and Texas plates and decided to follow that person, and it worked, because they went to a parking garage right next to Kyle Field. I was a tad miffed about my parking receipt. Dumb Aggies.

Also, it had been so long since the last time I had been there, I wasn't sure if the campus had improved or if I just flat out forgot what it looked like. Not only that, but I'm also reminded when I head that direction into Texas just how flat it can be. It's amazing how the forest-greenery of north Houston just somehow hides the flatness that is the Texas Gulf Coastal Plains. I don't know, just random observation.

Anyway, I eventually met up with everyone's favorite tailgaters murphtl and runyogasurf and I got to meet up for the first time with @TrueBlueAU and @aeyarbs, who were a lot of fun to hang out with. While we were standing around outside of the Memorial Student Center, drinking beer out of solo cups and being bombarded with "Howdies" and other pleasantries, we saw legendary coach Gene Stallings. Of course, we did what any good Auburn fans would have done, and that was to say "War Eagle" to him. We then watched him walk down the middle of a street as if he owned it and come to find out the name of the street was Gene Stallings Blvd.

The five of us then walked over to Northgate, which is College Station's bar scene, and on the way over there, runyogasurf mentioned how much TAMU's campus looked like a medical center. "No, I'm serious look: There's the nurse's ward, that's the oncology lab and this big-ass building here is the OB-GYN facility." Also after nearly getting run over twice in what were come to find out, not blocked off streets, we decided to hang out at a nice, open air bar called Chimy's. The food was good, a decent beer and liquor selection and nice big flatscreens all over the place. We sat on the patio first, drank some beers, tried a few sample shots of this terrible whiskey with a rooster on it, then moved into the bar before the game started.

This is where I could go on for quite some time expressing my disappointment with Aggie fans: how long into the game it took the bar to fill up, Aggie fans' seeming general disinterest with the game unless Manziel was playing, how the loudest fans in a TAMU bar were the five Auburn fans. There were no chants, no cheers, no encouragement, no talking to the TVs as if the players could hear. Murph asked me several times, "Is no one watching but us? They do know their team is playing, right? If this were Athens, Auburn, Tuscaloosa or Baton Rouge, this place would be going nuts." I shrugged my shoulders as I didn't have an answer. My whole life I grew up hearing about what great fans Aggies are and the whole "Home of the 12th Man" thing, but I guess that doesn't extend past Kyle Field.

The closest thing to enthusiasm we got was when Manziel went in for TAMU's last score. Then the bar cranked up their "War Hymn" and everyone stood up, put their arms around each other, swayed back and forth, and sang their song. It was a sight to see. While that was going on, runyogasurf tapped me on the shoulder and said, "They do know there's five minutes left and we're just going to run the ball. Do they think this game is over?" I nodded, "Pretty much, but in five minutes, they won't be singing anymore."

When Auburn got the ball back, drove it down the field and Mason carried the ball over the goal line for the winning touchdown; we celebrated. But during that whole offensive series, nothing came from the TAMU fans around us. There was no clapping and no encouragement for the defense. No, "Alright, D! Get a stop! Get a stop right here!" Nothing. And when Auburn went up by four, it was as if it wasn't even an issue. I guess when you have guys like Manziel and Evans, maybe it's not an issue. But I have to say to that crowd of Aggie fans we saw on Saturday, y'all got some work to do.

Don't Call it an Upset

The game that took place on Saturday at Kyle Field and the result that came from it, that wasn't an upset. No, I'm sorry Aggie fans, but what you saw on Saturday was Auburn's modus operandi. Our Tigers have been taking out top-five and top-10 teams since before you allowed women on your campus. Some of Auburn's biggest takedowns haven't even been in our own stadium! If you had even bothered to learn some things about this conference you were so eager to join, then you should have known that what Auburn does best is ruin everyone else's season. Of course, the only way you're going to figure that out is for something like Saturday to happen.

You had to learn the hard way, though. Saturday wasn't an upset. Saturday was classic Auburn football. Next time, maybe you'll be prepared, but just like everyone else, you won't.

Of Vests and Visors

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Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

I have to say, I like this look: the sweater vest and visor. I don't know why, but I like it more than the chav-ish track suit look that some coaches wear or the simple polo pullover and khakis that others do. Chris and Aubielicious asked in this week's College and Mag show, if this get up makes Gus look like a "nerd." Obviously, in their mind, "nerd," is still being used in the "classic" sense of the word. In my mind, it's the redefined connotation of the word, the one with which you express and display your passion and enthusiasm for that which you enjoy most. The one that describes a type of person who's binge-watching their favorite program and looks at their clock and says, "Yeah, I can work off of three hours of sleep, no problem, just one more look at this." The one that is happy to share his or her passion for what they love with as many people as possible. When I hear the word "nerd," that's what I think of because that's me, and if you're reading this, that's you as well.

Gus Malzahn is a nerd.

Of Monsters and the Abyss of Expectations and Reality.

"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you." -Friedrich Nietzche

I am well aware how pretentious, cliché and down right pseudo-intellectual it is to use such a quote in a college football blog post. However, last Saturday night and for a day or two afterward, I noticed a strange sort of behavior in myself. A behavior that was unfamiliar, and I was rather displeased in myself for displaying it. The feeling was a mix of anger, schadenfreude and almost self-righteous vindication. I was becoming that fan, the one who we hope gets kicked out of whatever sporting event or pub we're at. The one who annoys the shit out of everyone and almost relishes in it.

I've tried hard in my life not to be that fan, and on Saturday, I was that fan. There's being excited, and then there's being obnoxious, and I was the latter. This very behavior is found in the monsters who for years we've been making fun of for taking things way too seriously. The ones who can't take a loss for what it is and learn to move on to the next game. I've always been a good loser, but recently I have found myself being a bad winner, and I don't like it.

Now that our Tigers sit at 6-1 and are currently ranked 11th in the BCS with a world of possibilities in front of us, we've started to gaze into that Abyss of Expectations. We can see them all so clearly: winning every game from here on out, tearing both Georgia and Alabama to shreds in Jordan-Hare Stadium, the drive to Atlanta and spending a few days after New Year's under a beautiful Southern California sky. It's all right there. It is Auburn's for the taking, and we can see it as clear as day and hear a drunken Brent Musburger ogle over some other coed from the state of Alabama. It is a wonderful place to look into as it is filled with all of our hopes and dreams.

But gazing right back into us is the Abyss of Reality. This season is far from over, and there are plenty of games left to be played against teams that have ruined our seasons before. Every game counts, from the first to the last. If you gaze into the abyss for too long, it has a way of making you snap back to reality very, very quickly. Then you'll soon be left standing there wondering how it all went wrong, with nothing to show for it but the abyss and the monsters.

Well, that's it from me. Tune in next week, same Whiskey time, same Whiskey channel, College and Magnolia dot com.

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