This is the second part of a five part series by Thomas Northcutt chronicling his time as a manager for Auburn Men’s Basketball, a position he had held since Bruce Pearl’s first season in Auburn. If you missed yesterday’s post, be sure to go back and read it here.
The 2015-16 season was a lot less interesting and fun as a manager. I was excited to get to go on a couple big trips, like our tournament in Hawaii, but even then, it was a long season. Beating Kentucky that year still ranks as one of my favorite games in Auburn Arena, hands down. Part of the reason I love that game was because the crowd was amazing, one of the loudest games I have ever been at. The other reason is, if I’m being honest, I really don’t know how we won that game. I’ve gone back and watched it a couple times since that season ended, and we played pretty bad basketball that day. We just looked sloppy and all over the place. But a win is a win, and a court storming is
a $250,000 fine by the SEC a court storming.
I got invited back to the SEC tournament that year, which was always exciting for me. But our one game there might’ve been my least favorite moment as a manager. Ever. This was my first game against Tennessee outside of Auburn Arena, and I was not ready for what was about to happen. The first time I heard Rocky Top that evening, the first song I ever learned all the words to and the song of my childhood, I felt sick to my stomach. Then we kept hearing it all night, since we were getting blown out by nearly 40 at some points. The lack of effort and care we showed that day really got under my skin, about as much as seeing everyone in that shade of Orange I grew up wearing all around us. That is genuinely the only game in my 8 years as a manager that I can recall where I had no positive energy at all come the second half. Just like a lot of that season now though, we just forget that game ever happened and move on to the next year.
2016-17 will always be a big transition year in my mind, for several reasons. There was a big changing of the guard across the board. Players graduating, coaches and staff taking new jobs elsewhere, and most of the original crew of managers (#SweatSquad #NeverForget) moving onto bigger and better things out from behind the scenes, it was interesting to say the least. The beginning of this season was also about the time I began taking graphic design seriously, looking at it as more than just a hobby (more on that later).
If I’m being honest, I really don’t remember a ton from the beginning (or really, any) part of that season aside from a couple of moments. This is not because of the record or the team, there is just not much that sticks out in my mind about it, at least not too positive. There were the second half meltdowns we were prone to, but besides one or two games, a lot of it really slips my mind.
The one big game that sticks out in my head from that season, however, is the Alabama game up in Bammer Country. That was the only road game I went to that year, but man was that fun. Because of the way their bench is set up, I had to sit on the actual bench. We dominated for the first 32 minutes of that game, and I can’t lie, there are very few moments better than celebrating with the walk-ons while getting heckled by grown men with their children sitting next to them. Then we let them get back into it, and I thought for a second we were going to lose it. Buzzer. Red Lights. War Eagle starts playing in my head. Thank the lord we hung on. I forgot about this until I was reminded by someone who was at the game, as I walked off the court I made sure to make eye contact and wave at our #1 heckler for the evening. While I admit it wasn’t the most Christ-like move (No Upward White Star for me that game, sorry mom), man did that feel good.
This win meant we swept Bama that year, and if you go back and look at photos from that game, you’ll see our players celebrating in the locker room with a broom after the game. That was not planned by anyone… else. When I went back to change between parts of the warmup, I saw the broom hiding in a crevasse of the guts of the arena. I made a note of that. After waving goodbye to my new best friend, I sprinted to that little area to grab that sweeper. It made that moment so much sweeter. Moments like this are why I will always say that the small details make the biggest impact. By paying attention to the little things, the big things become so much better.
This was part two in a five part series by Thomas. Be sure to join us the rest of the week to see the rest! Also, be sure to follow Thomas on Instagram and on Twitter at @RealTCutt.