History Repeating?: An Auburn fan/ "historian", attempts to predict outcomes of Auburn games by looking at seemingly unrelated historical events. A waste of time? Only if it doesn’t work.
After my triumphant prediction in which I calculated the future score of the Auburn-Arkansas state game to within a total of five points between the two teams, there can be no doubt as to how well the past can predict the future. The sacred algorithm that allows me to know the unknowable—to peer into the quintessence of the unborn future and discern the outcomes of important events—must now be treated with special care. Am I a strong enough man to bear such a weighty burden?
In the words of the great Margot Tenenbaum, “I can’t even begin to think about knowing how to answer that question.”
What I can do, is use this power until it blows up in my face. Riding this train until it goes off the rails on fire, it didn’t take me long to find something from the deep past that is exactly like this week's matchup between Auburn and the only school in the SEC with an ampersand in its name.
Emperor Norton I of America
On September 17, 1859, a man walked into a newspaper office in San Francisco wearing a bizarre admiral’s uniform with a proclamation he demanded they print. In it, he declared himself the emperor of the United States of America. If it seems weird to you that you are just now finding out you lived in an empire, don’t worry. This person was Joshua Norton. He had come to America to seek his fortune, made a few terrible financial decisions, and lost his mind along with his money. The paper printed his proclamation, and he became another folk hero of the American West.
He would walk around San Francisco making crazy proclamations and passing out “Imperial currency” he had printed himself. Bars gave him free drinks. Many restaurants in the area let people pay with his made-up money.* He was beloved. When one of his dogs died 10,000 people showed up to the funeral. Police saluted him when he passed them on the street, mainly because the one time they arrested him newspapers wrote nasty things about them and the police chief had to publicly apologize. A homeless man declared himself emperor, was treated as basically the city’s mascot and walked around literally as if he owned the place. When he died they say there were over 30,000 people who turned up at his funeral.
Thing is, Norton had some good ideas. He declared the Bay Bridge be built years before anyone had the idea for it. He declared all countries join a “League of Nations” years before that actually happened. The papers ran a few of his written declarations, like his abolishing both the Republican and Democratic parties**, and When the Civil War started, he acted confused since there was no union from which to secede because it was all an empire anyway you guys.
On September 17, 2016, two teams will walk into Jordan-Hare Stadium looking to prove who they think they are. One of them, Texas A&M, declared itself a contender with a win over a school out west. It then defeated an FCS school and now is ranked in the top 20 in the country.
The thing is, no football team is more like Emperor Norton EVERY SEASON than Texas A&M. Aggies march around like they are a relevant college football power year in and year out, yet their trophy case is about as full as Joshua Norton’s royal treasury. You might think it’s impossible to have tradition without success, but then you’ve never been to College Station.
Joshua Norton had some good ideas, and even looked like an emperor when all dressed up and marching with a band, but he never was more than a local curiosity. Texas A&M has had some good teams, and even had a great player once, but still has never been more than a local curiosity.
The fake emperors will take a spoonful of reality on Saturday. The game will be close, but I am confident Auburn will reveal the drunk homeless person hiding under all the fake military garb. The Auburn defensive line will get to the quarterback and Kamryn Pettway pounds the grim prospect of another year looking up at the rest of the SEC into the heads of the Aggies.
You’re not a contender until you beat someone in the conference. You’re not an emperor just because you say you are. Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.
Texas A&M 24
10,000 people showing up to a dog’s funeral sounds like something the Aggies would do.
*San Fransisco, even then, was the chillest.
**Easily his best idea.