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Undercover Barner: The no-win game

In this week’s UCB, I do my best to avoid taking cheap shots at Alabama fans while still making the point that they are impossible to argue with. Also, I’m fully aware of the proper use of “you’re.” Read on.

Is this a glimpse into the Houndstooth Twins' future?
Is this a glimpse into the Houndstooth Twins' future?

In case you haven’t heard from your friendly neighborhood obnoxious Alabama fan*, it’s Iron Bowl** week.

The muffled sound you’ll hear on Saturday, Nov. 24, at 2:30 p.m. will be the collective groan of Auburn fans across the country as our Tigers embark on what will be, in all likelihood, an incredibly ugly game.

I don’t want to say that Auburn has no chance in Saturday’s game, but the odds are not colored in burnt orange and navy blue. In as much as “anything can happen in the Iron Bowl,” very few Iron Bowls actually go against expectations. We just tend to remember the miracles because they brought us the most joy.

But I didn’t come here to talk about a depressing football game or even a depressing football season. I came here to make a rational argument for a new procedure that could revolutionize the way we communicate in this state:

Y’all, stop arguing with Alabama fans.

Imagine this column rolled up like a newspaper, hitting you on the nose every time you tweet at one. Stop it!

Ever since I was a wee tyke***, I’ve tried to argue with well-reasoned and researched points, lovingly wrapped in a blanket of objectivity. Occasionally, I let inarticulate emotion-fueled rants escape, but by and large, I try to keep things civil and contained to reality. I don't seek out arguments with people, and I naively expect others to have the same respect.

That’s why it flabbergasts me when the collective mindset of a large portion of a fanbase is to completely ignore reality. I’m talking about “14” national championships, guys. I'm talking about copying every facet of Tiger Walk, changing the name to Walk of Champions and claiming it was an original idea. I’m talking about picking unsolicited fights with Auburn fans and then claiming we’re the obsessed little brother.

To be fair, Auburn fans have the ability to stick our heads in the sand as well, to wit, the Cam fiasco. But bottom line there: We admit it. We admit that we circled the wagons and battened down the hatches (and mixed metaphors). In the great battle of Auburn against the world, we admit that we blocked out the irresponsible reporting and endless questions. It happened. It worked out. We’ve largely moved on.

And also to be fair, not all Alabama fans live in the Twilight Zone. I've just instituted a zero-tolerance policy, and zero-tolerance policies always have some casualties. Sorry. Them's the breaks.

But I’ve never in my life seen such a bald-faced lie propagated and internalized as the extra national championships. In 2011, The War Eagle Reader told us about a piece that Jon Solomon wrote before the 2009 BCS National Championship Game, detailing how, in the 1983 media guide, Alabama’s sports information director, Wayne Atcheson, added five pre-Bear Bryant titles. Atcheson said he added non-consensus titles he felt the Tide earned, including 1941.

In 1941, Alabama went 9-2, losing to Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. The Tide beat Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl that year, and the Houlgate System awarded them the national championship. Okay, cool. But to claim it? I might let the others go quietly into the night if people would stop perpetrating the farce that is the non-existent championship of 1941.

Atcheson admitted that he added the titles because he felt that Alabama football was more than just the titles Bryant won and that Solomon was the first reporter ever to ask him about the extra championships.

Is that not completely mind-blowing to anyone else?

Between 1983 and 2009, after Alabama’s national title count jumped from six to eleven, not one reporter in 26 years thought to ask the sports information director what happened.

And almost no one questions the number to this day. If you ask most Bama fans, "How many national championships does Alabama really have?", "14" will be spat out before you even finish your question. If you ask about 1941, which I have done on several occasions, the answer will usually be muddled but could contain any or all of the following words: tradition, winning, championships, tradition, excellence, tradition and non-consensus. Just kidding. Non-consensus never comes up.

But I digress. No seriously, the mythical national championships are merely illustrative of my larger point:

Without the information, without the logic, without the numbers of my argument, if I just said, “Bama obviously doesn’t have 14 national championships because that’s crazy!” the reaction would look something like this:


With the information, with the logic, with the numbers, with the fact that I actually attended their university and am there once again, the reaction would probably look something like this:


So what’s the point? Why bother? Why bring logic into a discussion when the other party is either going to beg the question**** or ignore the argument all together, call you a boog and accuse you of sleeping with cows? You can’t beat this kind of crazy with conventional methods. I’m not sure you can beat this kind of crazy at all. It’s only loosely correlative with the success of the football team. With more success comes more hysteria, true, but even the Dubose/Franccione (giggle)/Price (giggle)/Shula years didn’t truly kill it.

So, I have given up. I will no longer attempt to have a discussion or reason with any Alabama fan, regardless of his or her intelligence level. Even close friends who pull for the Tide are off the table. I will not discuss sports or trees with them. It’s not worth the effort or the possibility of hurt feelings.

We all see the world through our team’s colored glasses, but no amount of objectivity will lessen the crimson tint with which most Alabama fans see the world.

Auburn fans are by no means innocent of denial, but come on, even we don’t claim national championships for 1983, 1993 or 2004. And in 1993 and 2004, NO ONE beat us. We have our share of sunshine pumpers and ostriches, but when confronted with #truthbombs and stone cold facts, we generally admit defeat, or at least I do.

Enjoy the holiday weekend, Tiger fans. I’m thankful for each and every one of you who take the time to read this column every Tuesday, even when I ramble incoherently*****.

Until next time — War Eagle.

*Everyone knows one or 65.

**I do not care that the game is no longer played in Birmingham, making the name “Iron Bowl” a misnomer. We adhere to precedent in this column, and precedent tells us to call the yearly matchup between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers the Iron Bowl.

***OK, maybe like high school. Whatever. It’s paying off, career-wise.

****OK, pet peeve. No one uses “beg the question” correctly. It does not mean “raise the question.” It essentially amounts to assuming a claim is true without evidence other than the claim itself. (Ex: Alabama could beat a pro team because a pro team would lose to them).

*****Like in this column. High five for making it this far!