So I got wrangled into going over to Tuscaloosa for the Iron Bowl circa 2016. The game? Forgettable in every way. More on that later...
The trip over was gnarly. I don’t ever want to hear anyone complain about how hard it is to get to Auburn. I can cruise down 280 at 70ish almost the entire way, and that includes the 2013 Iron Bowl where my buddy drove 80ish the whole way. I-59 from Birmingham to Tuscaloosa is bumper to bumper. We finally got off around the Mercedes Plant and took back roads into town. As an aside, I wonder sometimes what some rich douche in Oxnard or somewhere would think about where his car is made. That being said, none of the Alabama skill players seem to mind their Mercedes coming from the middle of the Alabama countryside.
Tuscaloosa reminds me a lot of Athens GA without the charm. The campus is ok. To me, it seems a little less friendly and a little less authentic than Auburn.
The stadium is cavernous. Along with many of the Auburn faithful, I had upper deck end zone seats. The Jumbotron screens in Bryant-Denny are a smidge small. Admittedly, I’m spoiled due to the Megatron at JHS. At home games, if you sit in the end zone opposite the board, it’s like being in your living room with 87000 friends.
The people there were surprisingly friendly. I accidentally bumped into a 50 something Bammer. We both apologized and he actually wished us luck today. I almost said “Oh, you trying to be a smart-ass?” thinking that he was thinking we had no shot to win, which is exactly the way I thought when Jeremy Johnson was announced as the Auburn starter.
Which is a nice Segway into Auburn’s colossal dumpster fire of offensive game planning. Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee had 2 choices in this game. A: Play it safe with confidence-lacking Jeremy Johnson, hope the offense can eek out enough points so that the defense could keep us in the game, or B: Throw caution to the wind and go with the cocky kid JFIII who has the moxie to make some plays and inspire some confidence into this wounded offense, hit a couple home runs and keep us in it until the end.
Gushlee (the undercover Barner is the bomb, btw. Give her a follow on Twitter) decided to go with option A. And essentially, this was waiving the white flag of parley. Mix that in with the pirouetting (passing) fullback, and well, pardon my French. (seriously pardon all the French).
Auburn’s defense played well in the first half but essentially ran out of emotional gas in the second half after yet another 3 and out. Gus turned it over to JFIII well after the game no longer in doubt, and the kid did pretty well.
So, that leaves Auburn at 8-4, and like the Playmaker said, it is pretty much what we all expected, especially after a 1-2 start. I cannot entirely disagree here, but it is so much more disappointing considering all the ifs, Auburn might be 10-2 vs 8-4. It’s impossible to say, but I do feel like given all the talent on this squad, Auburn should have been much, much better.
The question moving forward is will all this continue? Will Gus be forced to nix Rhett in favor of a different offensive coordinator? Will some of Kevin Scarbinsky’s hyperbole come true and Art Briles will show up and save the day on offense? (I Hope not for a myriad of reasons, none more than Scar-bombs being wrong).
Gus saved his job this year with a miracle run in October. But lose to both big rivals again in 2017, and he deserves to go.
War Eagle anyway.