There was football on TV last night. There will be more football on TV tonight. But when my head hits the pillow tonight all I will be able to think about is the Auburn game tomorrow.
September 3, 2016 marks the first of a series of family reunions for Auburn fans. We schedule twelve every year. Old friends and family gather to see each other, break bread together, and watch a bunch of kids play a game. Given that most Auburn fans either attended Auburn or have a family connection there, it's easy to play seven degrees of separation, make new friends, and treat strangers as intimates.
We'll arrive at the tailgate hours before the game; go to Tigerwalk; go to the Stadium an hour early; sing the same songs; and wait for the Tigers to take the field. It's repetitive, ritualistic, and glorious.
People say you can see the game better from your couch and save a lot of time and money. It's not the same. I've been going to Auburn games since 1983 and will continue doing it until the stairs get too steep for my worn out, aging body to climb.
Together we've seen the highs and the lows. We've won SEC and national titles. We saw Auburn go 0-8 in conference. We've seen Heisman winners and quarterbacks who didn't seem sure what team they were playing for. Defenses that stood tall like Alabama pines and defenses that were just awful.
2016 is a season full of promise and foreboding. This team is more talented than several Auburn teams that won titles. The question in all of our minds is whether Gus and his staff can mold them into a cohesive group and get enough spark out of the passing game to let us compete with the Clemsons, LSUs, and Alabamas of the world.
Auburn could win five games or ten. They could win twelve. I don't know. In the end, it doesn't matter. Our love of Auburn is not measured by the outcomes on the field. As long as the boys stand tall and face the dragons like men, we'll be there.
Tomorrow night, I'll leave the tailgate and walk down Donahue to see Jordan Hare lighting up the sky. It will be the same as it has always been. The same as it was for the generations of Auburn men and Auburn women before me. It will be perfect.
And then the game will start.