My little stories behind my story of the game suck compared to this but whatever, here we go.
It was a strange week. I couldn’t blog much. I was busy. Doing strange things. I was in Lubbock, Texas writing about a Gin Blossoms concert at a fair. I could feel the lack of killer instinct from here. The text messages were few. (The best one came from Kate: “A bum and a crack addict just yelled ‘roll tide’ at me.”) The Letdown loomed.
The moment was ripe against LSU – ESPN, moonlight – and blood poured from the throat of Jordan-Hare. And we came up short. Against Tennessee, “murmurs” where whipped into a soft, effeminate puss. And we came out on top.
I’ll take 14-12 any day. I’ll take 3-2 any day. And I’ll be proud for this reason: it’s great to be an Auburn Tiger. But I’ll also be proud because we win when look so terrible. You can moan and cuss all you want — and yesterday, yeah, in the second half, I did a little bit, under my breath — but that says something about a team and it says something about that team’s coach.
We are freaking 4-1. But here’s the thing, boo birds: we should be 5-0. We’ve beaten Mississippi St., we should have beaten LSU, we’ve beaten Tennessee. Some Auburn fans say we can’t win in this SEC playing like this when we’ve won in the SEC playing like this for four years. Some Auburn fans continue to act as if we’ve lost three games.
To this I say: Katharine Hepburn never thought she was pretty.
Hepburn’s “Bringing up Baby” is one of my all-time favorite movies. I had it memorized as a young child – my mom would make me perform for guests. But it is a line from her much better known “Philadelphia Story” that comes to mind on this, the fifth Sunday of the Tony Franklin death watch:
“The time to make your mind up about people is never!”
Or at least not five weeks into a season.
It’s like this – the advertised advantage of Franklin’s version of the spread was the tempo, or so it seemed to me. The meer cat, super-quick, 300 plays a game speed. Not quantity over quality, but we were supposed to wear down defenses, we would score in the second and fourth quarters (on Saturday, did we even get 20 yards in the 4th quarter?) And yet our no huddle is no threat.
I’m not going to look at the statistics because I don’t need to. We’re not really any faster, we just can’t be. And since we haven’t been, I’ve expected compensation in other areas. Mixing it up. Trick plays. Reverses. Even the wheel routes of old. Burns and Todd in on the same play. Anything. But I haven’t. There was the snowed under whatever-it-was pass attempt by Robert Dunn (and while we’re at it, what I finally realized I like about Dunn is that he brings a certain badass swagger that is needed even on a team built around the Beatitudes. The Irons brothers had it, but Dunn’s seems more ‘thank-God-he’s-on-our-side’) and at least Fannin touched the ball a little bit… (to be honest, I’d be hiking it to him every first down)…
And so even I, eternal optimist of the Auburn night, will admit it, hands up in the air: I’m confused. We signed up for hi-speed, for WiFi, and we can barely check our e-mail. We wanted Ricky the Dragon and we see Ricky the Martin. And though our defense will keep us in every game we play, a point of seizure awaits this Auburn offense in every game, springing randomly, and once it does, it’s all we can do to feed ourselves. At the sight of the game-saving barely-first down, the family claps and takes pictures. Yes, ma’am, it’s painful to watch.
Still, the prevailing idea that we’re actually handicapped is crap.
Maybe it’s just the kind of fan I am, but I trust the man implicitly, in part because Tuberville still seems to, yes, but also because Tony Franklin exudes a sort of Margaritaville nonchalance that purs potential, just-wait-for-it, holy-crap-what-was-that Bobby Fischer potential.
He is the guy that actually speaks English on the customer service line, the guy that chats you up about football or music and then apologizes once he realizes the problem, “man, awww damn, there’s an outtage in your area, that sucks…” and then gives you a tip that something is coming, something big, you’re gonna want it, can I sign you up?
“Well, they should. If I was them, I’d boo. I’d boo me. I’d be angry. Everybody’s expectations were high. My expectations were high. If I was a paying fan I’d be upset. This product has not been good, and it was my product. I don’t blame them for being upset. I don’t take it personal. When they said how wonderful you were, I didn’t take that personal because I knew it wasn’t true. I said all along that I wasn’t very smart and y’all thought I was joking. Now you know. It’s pretty true.”
Good God in heaven — there is a Gizmo Duck waiting to be unleashed from that sort of humility! Can’t we all just concentrate and be positive and help him remember the word! And for crying out loud, it is not freaking “boo.” (It’s, say it with me, “War Eagle,” the greatest blatherinblatherskite in the history of college football!).
DO. NOT. BOO. Oh, it’s for the play calling? Hmmm, call me crazy but hating the sin but loving the sinner just doesn’t translate from the cheap seats. While I certainly think that Auburn players have enough brains to discern the object of disdain – an option read rather than the quarterback – do you really think that matters? OK, now the players know they’re about to go out and read a line that will offend half their “fans,” that’ll really build their confidence. I’d rather the stadium be half-empty than to hear one boo from someone in orange and blue. I think the players would agree with me.
More on everything else — Bammersbackism, quarterbacks, a sure to be scorching Thom Gossom column, etc… — later in the week, hopefully. Until then, War Damn Eagle, we’ll see you in hell, Commodores, ’93 style.