This year’s football season arrives with Ernesto. The Virginia Governor declared a state of emergency yesterday in anticipation of the flooding to occur across the state today. Perhaps he was declaring an emergency for the state’s college football programs as well. I’m sorry, college football here in Virginia just ain’t the same as it is back down South (the SEC).
I’ve been to both UVa and VT games. I enjoy the games in Blacksburg because they remind me of Auburn in that the people are laid back and welcoming. They like to show up early and tailgate. However, I remember one year I went down to see VT host LSU, and there was a mini-riot the night before as LSU fans came into Blacksburg to take over the town. The next morning at the tailgate the talk among VT fans wasn’t about the game that day but about all those LSU fans, their RVs, and their monstrous tailgating setups – VT was in awe. (LSU lost the game but won the event as they brought Baton Rouge with them.)
John Madden wouldn’t like the tailgating at UVa games. It’s like a 49ers tailgate. Wine, cheese, grapes – you know, the stuff that snobs shove down their pencil necks before a football game. I always tell people that UVa is just like the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa except UVa people actually possess an education. Seriously I do like Charlottesville and UVa (we go to just about every women’s soccer match, and Taylor has done three of their soccer camps) but their football atmosphere stinks.
I miss the Plains! Now that Taylor is embedded in soccer and I’m coaching, we don’t have the opportunity to go to games like we used to. At one time, I had season tickets. Even though I didn’t get to all the games, it was nice having options and passing along the tickets to friends and family.
This year may be special for my Auburn Tigers, but as a “Dye-hard” fan, I can tell you “don’t believe the hype.” The press is especially mindful of the last time Auburn was ranked this high in the preseason – the bust of 2003 (I still think to this day if we had continuity in an offensive coordinator, that year would have been better). Look back through the annals of AU football history and it is filled with disappointments on the heels of high expectations.
It’s part of being an Auburn person that life decides to humble you every now and again. That’s why it’s astonishing to me to see the “Fear the Thumb” merchandise that has been sold for almost a year now. For those of you that are lost, Auburn has beaten its arch-rival four straight years. Immediately after last year’s victory, this “Fear the Thumb” graphic emerged. It depicts a Tiger holding four fingers in the air with a big thumb ready to rise up on the occasion of Auburn’s fifth victory over UAT, which would be this season. Alabama fans will be dancing naked, powdered in Tide detergent and pork fat, calling upon all the ghosts of the program to beat us this year because of that dumb-ass, arrogant slogan.
Nah. Auburn usually is magical when you least expect it. Like 1993, the year no one gave us a chance (although I predicted an undefeated season on my college radio show). We had two lousy years to send the Dye era out on its knees. Buster Brown came in, retained Dye’s coaches (even let Dye come to the practices and give locker room speeches), and with Dye’s players, went undefeated. He went 20-1-1 before the players and coaches started leaving. In ’95, he got schooled by Joe-Pa in the Outback Bowl, and the decline was on.
In 2004 we went 13-0, the best season ever in the history of Auburn football. We were ranked in the top 20 but never could make up enough ground or respect with the pollsters to put us in the Orange Bowl. We all know that outcome; USC 128, high school from Oklahoma 7, four AU players gone in the first round of the NFL draft just months later. No one saw it coming except for the fans.
So the 2006 season is here! WAR DAMN EAGLE! We watched the Gamecocks beat Mississippi State last night. It was the typical SEC opening weekend football game – lots of defense. Too bad the Bulldogs couldn’t pull it out. They may have if their cheerleaders were cheering more than chewing tobacco.
Auburn’s first opponent is Washington State, Saturday night primetime on the deuce in HD. I would love to bash the PAC-10, and actually, I don’t have much respect for PAC-10 teams, but they have been doing fairly well against SEC teams lately. This game won’t be the cakewalk the press is telling us about. Luck will carry the night for the Tigers, as I predict the Cougars will show up to play, maybe for a half.
We’re gearing up for a big day. Ernesto should be gone by tomorrow. So yes, a Boston butt will get rubbed down this afternoon to hit the smoke tomorrow morning. It’s a small one, and the goofy butcher trimmed it too much, but we’ll make it work. I’m not sure what else will be prepared yet. I need to complete the menu to make a run to the market after lunch. I did ask the baker to make a special cake – orange and blue with white buttercream icing and chocolate gnash filling. The AU logo will be prominently displayed on the top.
Somewhere about mid-morning, after breakfast, the kids and I will throw on the Auburn fight song and decorate the living room. New this year is a flag pole off the deck so the Auburn flag will be hung outside this year rather than the living room. Orange and blue pancakes will be served up to begin a good base for the bourbon that we’ll consume in the evening. I’ll pull out the same plastic Auburn tumbler I’ve had since college when the tailgating show comes on Sirius.
There’s plenty of other football on tomorrow. Here are a few of my predictions:
- Soo-wee those pigs stink as they get beat by USC again, 34-10.
- Pitt beats UVa, 17-14.
- Rocky Top rolls over Cal, 24-10.
- Georgia Tech pulls out the shocker over Notre Lame, 21-20.
WAR DAMN EAGLE, everyone! Cheers to the first weekend of college football!