I’m going to go ahead and apologize in advance for the scattered nature of this post. There have been quite a few transitions, and I’m not sure I can compose enough segues. But I think we can break it down into three basic types: Mine, this column’s, and Auburn’s. Hopefully, we'll be able to tie it together with a nice orange and blue bow at the end. In the spirit of narcissism, we’ll tackle mine first.
Since last we spoke, I’ve graduated law school,
Studied for and taken the Bar Exam,
Moved from Tuscaloosa to Opelika,
Started a new job,
And gotten a dog*
So things are a little different than they were in January. I’m still Barning hard though. Maybe even a little bit harder since I live near some very dear friends again. True story: I’ve lived here since the end of July and I still get excited when I see people wearing Auburn paraphernalia or Auburn stickers on cars. It always takes me a second to remember that I don’t live two miles from the gates of hell anymore. This happens at least three times a week. For those of you who are new to this extended experiment, I grew up here, and I can’t describe how thrilled I am to be home. But I’m also a little nervous. I don’t really know what my life will look like here as an adult.
Speaking of which, I guess since I moved back to God’s country, I’m not technically "undercover" anymore. But when was I ever actually "undercover" about Barning to begin with? Over the last few months, I entertained a name change for this column, eventually settling on Prodigal Barner. You know, since I came home. But then I had second thoughts**, mostly because I don’t like change. Maybe I’m not an adult yet. Sue me. Actually please don’t. I haven’t gotten my Bar results yet.
All that was to say that while it’ll have a familiar name, I don’t really know what this column is going to look like this season either. As an avid Buzzfeed enthusiast***, my two favorite media right now are lists and GIFs. So you might see more of those pop up. Or we may break that out into a separate sports/pop culture post. You never know ;)****
Which brings us to Auburn. Truth be told, I haven't been as excited about this season as I've been in previous years. Part of that has been the stress of the last couple of months but most of it is due to my unrelenting anxiety about Saturday's opener against Louisville. Don't get me wrong, I'm anxious about every game. There are no meals eaten immediately before or during an Auburn football game. But Petrino brings out a special kind of paranoia. Maybe it's because he tried to steal Tubs' job. Or maybe it's because he coached at Arkansas and will probably always have the #hawghex attached to him. Or maybe it's because I don't trust him to fight fair because he's an all-around awful human being. Whatever the reason, my typical pregame jitters have already started. If I text you panicking in the middle of the night this week, just remind me that Gus Malzahn is a person. But lucky for y'all, I have a new friend to distract me.
So remember how I got a dog recently? He’s a six-month-old blue heeler puppy who wandered up to our family’s farm in North Alabama a couple of weeks ago. After some shuffling between family members, I was lucky enough to bring him home. He’s been to the vet, got a new crate, collar, and leash, and has even received a corneal scratch courtesy of his feline sister. Basically he’s settled in, except for one small***** detail: He doesn’t have a name. I mean, he’s had like four. He’s been formally introduced as Barkley, both Shug AND Jordan, and Bo. I was so excited to have him that I named him without considering his personality. Several times. But none of those are quite right. Or maybe they are. I’m still learning this little guy.
And I kind of feel the same way about this Auburn team. We know the parts. We know the potential. We just don’t know who they’re going to be yet. In last year’s opener, Jeremy Johnson proved his arm was as good as advertised. But how will he shoulder the burden of leading an entire team over the course of a grueling schedule******? How will Duke’s off-the-field issues affect his on-the-field play*******? Who will step up as the next star of Running Back U********? Defense? At all? Please*********? Basically what I’m saying is, check back with me on Sunday morning. I feel like most of these questions, including "What is my dog’s name?" should be answered by then.
If you’re not making the trip to Atlanta this weekend, fear not. If everything goes according to plan, we’ll be back there in early December. Or we won’t. Who knows?
Until next time—War Eagle.
* More on that later.
** You will soon realize this particular problem is a pattern.
*** As a journalism major and former reporter, I should be drawn and quartered for that. But I’m a sucker for tumblr posts and GIFs.
****Maybe. Idk. Wink.
***** OKAY BIG DETAIL
****** For the record, I think he’s going to be juuuuuuuust fine.
******** Do you smell what the Roc is cooking?
********* I feel like fielding ANY defense at all will be an improvement over last year. And Muschamp don't play.