My first trip to Auburn in 2015 didn't come until Halloween. That's not entirely my fault; an 11 a.m. Jacksonville State kickoff just didn't make me want to open up my wallet and I had to work during the San Jose State game. So Mississippi State was the only real option and, well, I just wasn't up for it. It seems that the team wasn't either.
So I was tasked with making the SEC football experience everything that it can be for another 11 a.m. game as I had a Yankee in tow; one that doesn't particularly care for sports and that thinks this, especially, is ridiculous. I managed fine, but the experiences are just better at night. And it's frustrating that LSU has this stranglehold on night games because there's an undeniable truth being buried in the statement: "There's nothing like a night game in Baton Rouge."
There's nothing like a night game in the SEC.
Same thing goes for, "Ole Miss women are hot."
Well, sure. But there are really attractive women on every Southern campus. Those things don't make LSU and Ole Miss unique. Food makes LSU unique. Literature makes Ole Miss unique. Football in the South is best enjoyed on cool autumn nights. And as kick times were announced on Monday for the November 14 slate, many cried, "Well, win games and you wouldn't have this problem."
That's proven to not be the reason. Vanderbilt was in prime time last weekend. I don't know the reason, but that isn't it.
We left at 6 a.m., before the sun began to rise. And we did the best we could to make lemonade out of lemons.
Big as hell scoreboard. It's big, sure enough. And it's hard to watch anything else. But I wasn't really awestruck by it? When people would catch a glimpse of it in August and try to be the guy that both "got it" and wanted to convey its enormity, they'd say: "Guys, seriously. It's the biggest thing ever."
And yeah, man, it's really, really big. But I feel like that guy was setting it up to be the eighth wonder of the world.
Here's what it actually is: a big ass scoreboard.
I was way more impressed with the sound system. That is a HUGE improvement.
Run the damn ball. When Jeremy Johnson threw to the four or whatever yard line, give the ball to Jovon Robinson four straight times and get in the endzone. Not sure why that was over-complicated. The next time I call plays will be the first; but it's strange that Rhett Lashlee became the fall guy for these decisions this week when Malzahn calls the plays, and it's strange that they strayed so far from something that had worked so well.
Was the defense good? Like, I don't know. You walked away from that game feeling like it had one of its better performances in years, but it gave up 600 yards. The secondary is pretty abysmal, but Carl Lawson's return made a huge impact. There was pressure, something that hasn't existed much this year.
Striping the stadium. I was certain that this would fail, but it didn't. I still don't think it was a great idea, but at least it didn't look ridiculous.
The jackass in section 107. So I'm walking out just before the final Hail Mary, if you can call it that, and everyone kind of congregates at the top of the breezeway to see the final play. A voice behind me says, "Hey!" and motions for me to move as if he is Moses parting the Red Sea.
And I moved. Out of sheer shock. I guess my first thought was, "I guess that's a security guard behind me and technically, I shouldn't be standing here..."
Nope. Just a jackass. He treated an eight-year-old the same way immediately after me. That's balls, man. To think you're owed a line of vision from the spot you are leaned against the wall over the guardrail? I'm still puzzled that a dude can make demands like that of someone he doesn't know in a public space. And I'd probably move again out of complete shock. Do you, bro. I assume this is the same type of fellow that shouts at women, "Yo toots. Sandwich. Now." And claps.
This team can still win three games. Yep. Idaho. Georgia. And Texas A&M. It probably won't, but it CAN. And just two still gets it into a bowl.
You don't want to concede this, so let me do it for you: there is something oddly comforting about mediocrity. Being "just ok" has, if nothing else, made it interesting. You see improvement every week. The team hasn't quit, so you haven't quit on them. There's no apathy. It just...is. No one is on a hot seat; and there's a pretty good chance that almost every part of this slowly improving machine will return to open 2016 with five home games.
You've tasted some really high highs over the last five years, and new money Auburn fans think that's the way that it's always supposed to be. But I think, deep down, old money Auburn fans, are okay with an average season. It's better than 2008. It's better than 2012. It's just fine. Auburn can still spoil a season. It can be the final nail in Richt's coffin. It can allow a bowl trip to...idk somewhere that you otherwise wouldn't have visited.
And national writers want to tell you that you can't feel that way. That it's a dumpster fire or some other extreme. But we don't have to work in extremes. It can be just fine. It's November. Auburn is 4-4. And I'm having fun. I hope you are, too.
Oh, and my Yankee friend? She was calling Auburn "we" on the way to the car. As in, "Why didn't we run the damn ball?" So I guess she had fun, too.