It is hard to believe that in just a few short days the 2014 regular season for our Auburn Tigers will be coming to a close. We waited patiently for seven long months and the excitement for the return of Auburn Football was nothing short of palpable. Why should it not have been? For every indicator detailing how hard the road would be to head back to the championship there were plenty of answers to these potential problems. Many of those answers were not actually answers at all. Instead, they were the complex creature comprised of hope, belief, excitement and expectations created by us, the fans of this football team.
Despite what some may say there is nothing wrong with having expectations as a fan. In fact, it is almost Rule One of Fandom. Expectations can be lofty and unrealistic to downright cynical and pessimistic. They can be grounding or they can turn casual fans into ravenous beasts. There is nothing unnatural about expectations and truthfully they are a fundamental part that is the American psyche. How we traverse that wild sea, of course, is the critical part. Some are able to hold fast; others not so much.
The losses to Mississippi State, TAMU and Georgia did not leave me hair-pullin’-cussin’ angry as much as it left me feeling flat. I guess one could interpret that more as honest disappointment. I think that’s a fair assessment of this season. You wait patiently all summer long. You devour any little tidbit of information SID’s throw to you or sound bites of interviews with the coaches. You build those dreams and feelings and expectations and all of the sudden, plop. There it is just lying in front of you like some lazy dog.
Year Two, sequels, follow ups, sophomore efforts or whatever you want to call it are always the hardest especially if your first iteration triumphed unexpectedly. I don’t fault Gus and Co. or the athletes under his tutelage for not living up to my hopes for this season. That is on me and when you’re following an act like the Auburn Tigers’ 2013 season I can only imagine how overwhelming of a task that may be.
A few days ago marked my third year since returning home from Iraq. The first few months home, for some reason, might have been the hardest. There were moments where I found myself yearning for that place. I don’t even know why. I don’t miss the heat. I don’t miss the dust, my jerkoff colleagues, the absurd amount of stress or the god awful food that nearly killed my taste buds. If I had to guess what I missed was the odd mixture of desert stillness punctuated by the ever present thupthupthupthupthupthup of helicopter rotors.
Every now and then I get up from my desk at work and stand outside. I’m not out there to do anything in particular other than breathing and listening. Every now and then I will hear the faint sound of a helicopter rotor somewhere over one of the highways that circle and cut through Houston, but they are not made by a UH-60, CH-47 or AH-64. Now, the only thing I have been able to find to replace that sound is generated within Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Walking up to the stadium, ticket in hand, you can hear the thousands of voices of those waiting to pass through the gates. I like to zero in on conversations between fellow Auburn fans and listen to their thoughts, opinions and predictions. I smile. As I walk into the concourse the noise increases and the individual voices harder to discern. "I’m ready," I think to myself. I wait behind the massive throng of people moving slowly towards their respective seats. I stare down towards Pat Dye Field and hear the crowd come to a roar when Nova or Spirit glide and swoop around our stadium. I listen to thousands and thousands as we sing "War Eagle" in unison and cheer when our Tigers dash onto the field. In the moment right before the opening kickoff when the stadium noise as reached its’ apex I whisper to myself the same thing every time.
I will not be home at Jordan-Hare this Saturday. I will not be able to hear the sound of that stadium, which gives me so much comfort. I am going to have to make do without it. This season as much as it was up and down and did not succeed to live up to my expectations have absolutely been worth it. The best part is that this entire season can all be set right with a victory at Bryant-Denny.
A win against the Tide isn’t impossible and Auburn is at its best playing the role of spoiler. I expect nothing less because I believe and have hope and am excited for another great Iron Bowl that will be won by our Tigers.
Everything Wrong With
One of my favorite YouTube channels is Cinema Sins, particularly the series of videos that picks apart movies titled "Everything Wrong With..." Back in September, the creator of Cinema Sins, Jeremy, released his video for Tony Scott's 1995 "Top Gun underwater" film, Crimson Tide starring Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman.
Right from the get go, Jeremy made some great observations:
Well, you can't really argue with that kind of logic even if it is well before the current fervor for all things Southeastern Conference but yes, it is still very much a sin to title this movie thusly.
Much like the very fans of the Alabama Crimson Tide that answer is a firm 100% "NONE!" The best part is I'm not even sure he was trying to make a sidewalk fan joke but no one is stopping me from making that interpretation, damn it!
Auburn is Denzel. That's not a sin, actually.
I thought about continuing on with this by taking pictures of crazy Alabama fans from the fan who wears a ring as a hat or the infamous "Running of the Gumps" or even a photo of a packed Bryant-Denny Stadium and counting each one as a sin. However, these sad bastards already have themselves to live with so there's no need for me to do so.
I wish I had a more rousing speech for everyone here. I wish I could be nearly as "eloquent" as I was last year. But this year I'm keeping it simple and I'm keeping it short so there are only need two words we need for Saturday: