On Friday, I buried my stepbrother, got into my Jeep and drove more than four hours to Auburn. I didn't know how or where I would be watching the "Mother of All Iron Bowls," but I knew I'd be on the campus of my alma mater. I knew I'd be in the spot that I spent more than two years living with that kid, and I knew he would have wanted me there.
My fondest memory of Joe was our trip to Glendale in January of 2011. The shortest version is this:
He landed a day before me. If you'll recall, the ticket situation was outrageous: Scalpers had set up shop and $1,000 was cheap. He found three at that price and snagged them. Unfortunately, counterfeits were also everywhere, and he went by the FIesta Bowl ticket office before I had beaten that snowstorm to the air and checked them. As we approached liftoff, with snow covering the ground at Shuttlesworth International, I received the last text from him -- they were fake.
So I was in the air. And it was too late. And I had pawned my ex-wife's wedding ring for the $1,000 that I had lost on a fake ticket.
He and his wife joined me at In-and-Out the next morning. I had my hamburger animal style. We went over for "Tiger Walk," which amounted to watching some buses drive by. His wife refused to deal with the embarrassment of the fake tickets, and decided to instead watch from a nearby bar. I looked at them and said, "I'm taking this ticket to that gate and I'm going to make them tell me no."
I got in.
That's the short version, and if the stars align and Pasadena happens, I suppose I'll have to dig into my couch and figure a way out to honor that moment by going on his behalf.
I know he would have been damn proud to see me at the Iron Bowl.
He would have been damn proud to see me leap from my seat at the War #Drunj Eagle tailgate presented by College and Magnolia, toss my High Life 30 feet in the air and run around the Eagle's Nest, hugging strangers. He would have been damn proud to see me kissing Phil and doing a reverse Rammer Jammer with Jared. And he would have been on top of the bricks at Toomer's Corner.
And to top that off, I went to Atlanta to see Kanye West on Sunday. He would have been into that, too.
I'm not saying any of those things to elicit an outpouring of sympathy. I'm just sharing with you my weekend. It was the most epic range of emotions that I can imagine.
That said, gather round, Barners. Let's chat. No one else is here. It's just us.
Auburn is not going to defeat Missouri in football in 2013.
I know. You're mad at me! You're mad at me like the time I said that Auburn should hire Bobby Petrino to replace Gene Chizik or the time I told you that Jay Jacobs should be thanked! You're so mad. You're probably calling me a Bammer, and you're probably mad that I freely associate with people who root for that mean, old team on the other side of the state because we share similar interests that have nothing to do with football.
But Auburn is not going to defeat ___Missouri___ in football in 2013. I wish it were. I hope it does. I will Barn my ass off. I'll probably make people on Twitter mad and they'll unfollow me, and I'll have to walk around with a bizarre internal guilt in the social age.
But there's no reason to believe that Auburn can win this game.
If you are so Barn right now that you think that disbelief is treasonous, God help you. Nothing I say is going to fix that kind of Barn.
How about this? Go into this game expecting the worst and hoping for the best.
I sure do. Even though I don't love Auburn as much as you do. Go on. Comment below and tell me I'm awful.
War Eagle. ;-)