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Rootability Index, Vol. 4

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Where success is built from failure

Mary Hattler/File

War Eagle Auburn fans! Welcome back for yet another week of us all trying to make sense of where our rooting interests most benefit the Tigers. This week, we’ve got what feels like a light plate in terms of where we can serve to benefit within the SEC, with both Alabama and LSU being off prior to the Game of the Century of the Year. That being said, we’ve got some real hate to direct towards Jacksonville, Florida this weekend and a night game in Jordan-Hare to get to. With that in mind, let’s figure this out...

Ole Miss at Auburn

Normally I’d use this space to go down a laundry list of reasons why we all hate Ole Miss. Which, if we’re being honest, sure we all hate everybody we play to a certain extent, but hating Ole Miss requires a lot of work that I just don’t have in me. Also because our losses to Ole Miss typically come on some of the more forgettable seasons in Auburn Football history. Except one.

On November 8, 2003 the Ole Miss Rebels, ranked 20th in the country came to the Plains with a quarterback by the name of Eli Manning in tow, a national television audience from CBS, and hopes for an SEC Championship. Meanwhile Auburn, ranked in the preseason at #6 in the country, came into the game at 5-3, attempting to salvage a potentially lost year and stay hopeful for a chance at getting to Atlanta. This was set to be a tremendous showdown between the greatest Ole Miss quarterback in a generation (literally) and an Auburn offense that had found some rhythm after an 0-2 start, and featured a fierce backfield of Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, Ronnie Brown, and Brandon Jacobs.

As the game went back and forth into the 4th quarter, Auburn had pulled ahead 20-17 until less than 3 minutes to go when Ole Miss punched it through to take a 24-20 lead. 3 plays into Auburn’s next, and last drive, a sophomore receiver named Ben Obomanu caught a screen pass and raced 51 yards to the 10 yard line. Auburn was within striking distance with plenty of time and a chance to contend deep into November (somehow) in the SEC West.

3 plays later, on 3rd and goal, a lesser player...no, a lesser person, would have let this moment define their career. Ben Obomanu had dropped a wide open ball in the south end zone that would’ve been a huge momentum clinching game for a team in desperate need of it. Sadly, the player responsible for getting us into position to win the game was at the center of blame for why we lost.

Obomanu grew up a few minutes after that moment, choosing to face the media and take ownership over what happened, like someone with maturity beyond their years. Any feeling of finger pointing in the locker room wouldn’t stand up to the integrity and character that Obomanu showed that day.

My question to you all is this...when you think of Ben Obomanu, is the Ole Miss game the first thing that comes to your mind? Because I have a few moments that far outweigh him coming up short that night in Jordan-Hare.

  • I think about a screen pass early against Alabama a few weeks later, letting the Tide know they were never going to have hope at momentum as we took out a season of frustrations on a hapless Crimson Tide. The hurt and pain from weeks earlier in the south end zone had been redeemed.
  • I think of the wide receiver who never got the picture painting like Courtney Taylor against LSU in 2004, but managed to lead the undefeated and uncrowned 2004 Auburn Tigers in TD receptions
  • I think about opening the floodgates on the opening drive of the 2005 Iron Bowl with a TD reception. I think about a flawlessly executed reverse go 45 yards to pay dirt, giving him his second score of that wonderful afternoon. Both of those touchdowns being celebrated in the south end zone served to further distance any shred of failures on that same part of grass 2 years prior.
  • I think of the Selma native getting drafted in the 7th round of the NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks and lasting the better part of 7 seasons in the NFL.
  • I think of the man that upon retirement chose to go back to school to work and ultimately obtain his law degree.
  • I think about the guy sitting in Brother Chette’s office as I walked into it, a freshman, non-student athlete, hurting and in need of encouragement and going to one of the few people on Auburn’s campus who had a personal relationship with me and cared. Brother Chette was on the phone when I walked in. And there was Ben, a real, legitimate leader in the locker room and FCA, with a smile on his face as genuine as I’d ever seen. Ben had no reason to care about me or talk to me. He was a senior football player who I viewed as a legend. And yet there was this humble kid from Selma, just shooting the breeze without a care in the world with a broken, depressed, and lost kid trying to figure too much out all at once. I think about that act of kindness most.

So on this 2019 version of Ole Miss week, let’s remember Ben Obomanu, a sophomore who put us in position and then made a mistake. Let’s remember that a moment in time doesn’t have to be the memory we hold closest by the time this brief moment in the players’ lives are through. And let’s believe that for every painful moment we had in Gainesville and Baton Rouge in October, that the defining moment of this team is in front of them. They haven’t played their best game...YET.

War Damn Eagle.

(Also if you’d like to read more detail about that 2003 Ole Miss game, please go read this excellent piece from Wesley Sinor a few years back.)

Florida vs. Georgia (Jacksonville)

Ah Jacksonville. The most spacious parking lot in America. This is a super fun game to go to if you hate both of these teams, even if you’re dressed in a Gene Chizik inspired shacket!

Even if it means you end up losing a pain of sunglasses to the Atlantic all for the sake of a joke. :(

ANYWAY...common sense, decency, and the downright ethical and moral thing to do in this game is to pull for Georgia...to absolutely get their ass kicked. I know I know...we all hate Dan Mullen for somehow getting a Mississippi State problem to somehow become an Auburn issue in 2010. And that loss a few weeks back still stings. And there’s even some logic in wanting to be the ones to ruin Georgia’s season by handing them their second loss, all but ensuring they miss a chance at the national championship for (as of 11/1/19 at 5:03 PM) the 14,182nd day...not including roughly 23 hours and 49 minutes.

I mean, sure! That sounds great! But let’s think about this...what if we don’t end up winning that game? You really want that kind of pressure on this bunch right now? Wouldn’t it also be pretty great to see a deflated Georgia walk into Jordan-Hare with nothing to play for and not a care in the world because of some false sense of entitlement that they’ve had for 14,182 days, 23 hours, and 51 (now) minutes? I want to watch this team get buried, dug up, kicked, and buried again.

GO GATORS!

Seriously, don’t pull for Georgia. These people deserve bad things, and they deserve them all the time.

Mississippi State at Arkansas

Y’all I’m gonna be honest with you and say that you can go ahead and root for whoever you want here...just know that one or both of these coaches will probably not be coaching at either of these schools soon. For that reason the comedy of it seems like State winning and maybe getting their fanbase hopeful is the best way to crush a soul, since Arkansas has been numbed to all of this for a while.

Hail State?

UAB at Tennessee

I picked Tennessee to win this game because they’re playing better. They should be able to outlast a C-USA team, right? But OH MAN am I pulling hard for the Blazers here. There’s few things that would make me happier than seeing UAB find a way to beat Tennessee. And CAN YOU IMAGINE THE T-SHIRTS IF THEY WERE TO DO IT BY MORE POINTS THAN THE TIDE?!? Please let it be so.

GO BLAZERS!

Have a different perspective on where our rooting interests lie this weekend or want to throw in some games of your own that you have some personal hate invested into? Feel free to share in the comments section below!