As we get closer and closer to actual football (34 days, by the Bo, as of Sunday), our appetite for a fall Saturday on the Plains gets more and more ravenous, and subsequently, our blood sugar lowers, causing our brains to lack clarity and function. It's times like these you've got to pull it together. Save some of that zombie hunger for when it counts.
I used to work at a summer camp for boys, and we would have a dance night with the girls camp down the road. On the bus ride over there (about a mile away, but at 20 miles per hour on a cheese-wagon), our guys would sing our camp "fight song," which, by the way, could strike fear in any forest animal within a 50-mile radius. But some of the kids would get too anxious and start singing the song right as we left our campus, causing the song to die out before we even arrived and before the girls could hear us coming from their tennis courts. I would always tell the kids, "Kids, you gotta stoke that fire. Stoke it. Like this." And I would rub my hands together like I was rotating a stick to get a flame going in the wilderness.
It's the same thing with football. You have to remember your surroundings, and timing is everything. And in keeping with this theme, you need to remember how to act on game day—specifically in the student section at Jordan-Hare Stadium. You don't want to show up on August 30th, look around, and start acting the fool without any guidelines. Should I throw my shaker in the air? Is my shirt necessary? Does the person in front of me have the Reggie-Miller-like presence of mind to catch me if I fall forward??? Trust me, there will be time for this after we're up 60 on Bert and the Hogs by the third quarter, but not a minute before, amigos. Stay frosty.
So for those of you who might have forgotten due to this abnormally long hiatus we call "the off-season," here is a list of guidelines I have composed (in cooperation with some helpful Auburn Twitter folks) for you to save to your mobile device, memorize, tattoo on your back, etc. (Actually, let's leave that last option to the other school down the road—they're better at the "ink-to-back-flesh-surface-area" ratios.) I call this list, "The Ten Commandments of the Jordan-Hare Student Section," and while some of these guidelines can be tweaked, they are, for the most part, unflinchingly rigid. (And for what it's worth, I have a personal story to go with just about every one of these rules. I'm sure you do, too.)
Commandment 10: Don't throw hand signs at the stadium or ESPN cameras other than the classic "Number One."
Remember when folks on social media tried to get that "AU" hand signal going back in 2010? Remember when that was almost a thing? The key word there is "almost." We don't need hand signals. We're not Baylor. We're not Cincinatti. We're not Arkansas State. And we're certainly not Miami. An acceptable hand signal is the classic, "Number One" made with one's index finger pointed at the sky, but keep in mind that this is only acceptable in seasons that are not 2012. Here are a few other acceptable gestures:
- Pointing at the camera with your index finger and a furrowed brow as if to say, "YOU. IT'S YOU. YOU." (This is my go-to, as some of you might have seen on previous broadcasts).
- Waving a shaker violently—and I mean violently—so as to demonstrate that you absolutely are the reason we're up by 30 or 40 or 50. This is also a classic, low-risk maneuver. PROTIP: Always remember to stretch.
- Holding up a fun poster that you carefully traced, painted, and plastered together the week before. Hey, you worked hard on that thing! Show it off! No shame! PROTIP: "All-In" is, in my mind, outdated. We no longer need this slogan. Go ahead and stick with funny puns involving ESPN letters.
- On that note, avoid funny puns involving ESPN letters. Honestly, there just aren't that many cogent phrases in our lexicon. Just remember: Every Sports Pun...No.
- For those who are just shameless, sure. Go ahead and put your arm around that sweetheart of yours and show mom and dad at home that you're a true southern gentleman. But for all that is good on this earth, please make sure she's okay with this, first.
- UPDATE: Never Dab. Ever. This is...gosh...I don't even know what this is:
Commandment 9: The "Warrr Eagle, HEY!" cheer requires proper shaker mechanics.
For years, I did this incorrectly, so take notes if you're rusty:
- Part 1: "Warrrrr" - Circle shaker in the air. If right-handed, clockwise towards the sky. If left-handed, counter-clockwise.
- Part 2: "Eagle" - And this is where I messed up. With shaker in hand, bend arm at elbow, moving shaker behind the ear.
- Part 3: "HEY!" - Thrust shaker forward with great vigor and furious enthusiasm.
Commandment 8: Do not "boo" the opposing team when they initially come out of their end-zone tunnel.
Now, I know what you're thinking, but hear me out on this. Our Tigers come out of the south end-zone tunnel, which is arguably the loudest section of the stadium at any given time. The opposing team likes to come out right after we do, so if you're booing, you're not cheering, which benefits the other team. Leave the passive booing to the alumni. They're closer, and they probably have more coworkers to piss off in their row, anyway. This is adulthood.
Commandment 7: When we score on offense, one is obligated to high-five the closest four people in his/her section.
This might seem trivial, but the celebratory high-five never goes out of style. This is the life-blood that keeps our spirit churnin' and bumpin'. Be sure to share in the glory that is 300+ yards of offense per game and at least 4 touchdowns by slapping hands with at least four fellow fans in close proximity. Five is okay, but six is downright bold, and perhaps a little excessive.
PROTIP: Use good form. Always look at the target's elbow before slapping hands. You'll never miss.
Commandment 6: When we score on defense, one is obligated to hug the closest one person in his/her section.
Again, these are flexible, but it really goes without saying that pick-sixes and fat-guy touchdowns often warrant more than a simple slapping of the hands, which at this point are probably raw and red anyway because of how many offensive touchdowns we've put up on the Hogs. The type of hug you decide to dole out? Dealer's choice. A side hug is a great way to tell a complete stranger, "Hey! Fat-guy touchdown! We did that! And I'm gonna stare at my phone now!" A full-frontal hug absolutely guarantees that you're going to have to listen to some guy reel off stat after stat from the early 2000's at halftime. He doesn't get a lot of hugs, and he'll take what he can get. Remember: boundaries aren't just for the playing field.
Commandment 5: If you're an opposing fan, and you just couldn't sit anywhere else, remember where you are.
Just remember: there's more of us than there are of you, and we've been up since 8 am—which, for some of us, included some serious hair-of-the-dog rituals. But don't worry, Hog fan. You'll probably be gone by halftime, anyway. If only there was a mercy-rule in football...
Commandment 4: The last line of "God Bless America" is longer than the previous one.
People. How many times have you heard this song? The words are on the Jordan-Hare tickers on both sides of the stadium below the upper deck. Really, though, it's the shakers coming from the Greek section that throw us off sometimes, so I can almost forgive this one. BUT, for those who need a refresher:
/ahem...And a one, and a two, and a one, two, three,
"God—bless-A-mer-i-ca / My home, sweet, hooooommeeeee...
God—bless-A-mer-i-ca / my hoooooooooomeee...sweeeeeeeeetttt...HOOOOOOOMMMMEEEEE."
Learn it. Memorize it. Be ready for the long note.
PROTIP: They unfurl the giant flag before this verse. If you want to remember a patriotic hint, just think: "Long time since 'Merica wasn't 'Merica, LONG verse."
Commandment 3: You stand on the bleachers in front of you. Period.
Oh, the agony of trying to stand up after the TV-ref rotates his arm and blows his whistle, only to have your size-12 boot squish into somebody's derriere in front of you. Or even worse, when the person in front of you tries to step onto your lap. Folks, it's real simple: "On to victory, onto the bleacher in front of you." You stand in front, you sit your behind, behind. And on the same topic...
Commandment 2: You are going to stand up with us. As long as it takes. Period.
It's tough getting old. Your knees give out, your back aches, and your feet swell. Luckily, Jordan-Hare meets your needs by providing you with no-pressure, quality bleacher seating for about 75% of the stadium. The key word there is "seating." However, if you happened to have sneaked your older buddy in from work or your Barnin' aunt that lives in Albuquerque and never gets to visit, you're going to get a talking-to if you're sitting when everyone else is standing. It's not personal, it's just—well, I'll be honest, it might get personal.
PROTIP: For those 35 and older, use the week before to condition the body at work:
- Squats while holding TPS reports (2 sets of 10)
- Lunges between cubicles with Wednesday's company catering boxes (3 sets of 15)
- Wall Sits with keyboard flatly on lap (2 sets for 20 seconds each)
Commandment 1: If you're the guy that the opposing team's PAT ball gets to at the top of the stadium...THROW THAT GARBAGE OUT, SON. AND WITH SOME "UMPH!" DEAD-GUMMIT!
Dissenters, be damned. Cops? CHILD'S PLAY. The opposing team's first mistake was kicking their personal footballs into our territory. I mean, really, did they think we were just going to hand it back to them? Is this 1955? Answer me this: Has anyone ever cheered loudly for the guy who threw the ball back? Did he receive high-fives? The answer is no. Here are the pro's and con's to this gesture, which still makes several old-school fans mad, but has become quite the new and fun tradition at Jordan-Hare—perhaps one of those unofficial traditions that might have seemed dumb at first, but has, say, grown on yours truly and gotten him thrown out with pride:
Pro's: Instant, loud cheering, high-fives, and probably a phone number.
Con's: You might get thrown out of the stadium, in which case you just find the nearest tailgate that knew what was going on for a free beer, or head down to the ol' Bodega (Bank Vault), put a quarter in the jukebox, and blast "Born to Be Wild" by Steppenwolf.
So, basically, there are no con's. We're depending on you.
Well, folks, there you have it. Memorize these commandments. Take them with you wherever you may Barn. Add your own in the comment section below. And for Pat Dye's sake, always remember The Jordan-Hare Golden Rule: "Sing Rammer Jammer as thou would expect to have Rammer Jammer sung back to thee" (this includes that mysterious hidden verse when we sing the "HEYYY, GO TIGERSS" version).
War Damn Eagle!