Tag Archives: Bama

The Duty


The duty of this eleven was

To put Tuscaloosa in tears.

There was Smith and Shafer and Johnny Glenn

And Brown and Williams too.

Many others with us came,

And wore the Orange and Blue

For eleven little tiger boys, lad,

For eleven little tiger boys.

Everyone’s mothers and their brothers

Just knew what they could do.

And eleven little tiger boys, lad,

Will break Tuscaloosa’s heart.

She is another that we will smother,

Before we drift apart.

The earliest surviving reference to the Auburn football team as “Tigers,” written by Walker R. Tichenor, Auburn’s quarterback, and youngest son of former Auburn president Isaac Taylor Tichenor, prior to the 1894 Auburn-Alabama game. Which we lost. But listen to the tone…

… and we were underdogs.

This Thanksgiving, I was thankful for Auburn’s genetic advantage in it’s rivalry with Alabama. Whether bringing eleven wins or eleven losses or five wins and six losses, Auburn will always enter the Iron Bowl as the underdog.

In the beginning, we owned them. When the fires of football, set by George Petrie, first engulfed the state, Tuscaloosa could but bend over before the gods of Auburn and pray for dark. Yet even then, in the bowers of innocence and conquest, the Tigers were a priori underdogs, presumed inferior, a mere college fighting… The University.

The wins came, as did the losses. The Bryant years were mostly misery. The Dye years mostly great. They’ve had a streak of nine. We’re on a streak of six. But Auburn, a tiny village, has never entered a game with Alabama, an entire state, without that Tiennamen Square middle finger and the support of heaven.

And it never will.


I often imagine the shift. What will happen? When the wins are even? When we take the lead? When our wins outnumber theirs by double digits? Triple digits?

Though we want it, though we await for it like Christ’s return, I once quietly feared that win column dominance would dull the blade that drew the nectar of ’72, of ’82, etc. I feared it would change us. But I fear no longer.

For over the course of the past six years, I have realized that the dynamic forged in the ’60s and ’70s – the wilderness of our fathers, a wilderness which our young hearts have never known, but that bore in them the hate on which we were nursed – provides them no alternative to the disgusting arrogance they’re known for.

That is who they are.

When the streak stretches to 10 … to 10 x 10 … they will bark and they will howl and they will return to their vomit. But they will never be able to tap the spirit of the underdog. It is a sixth sense kept from them by the facts of the world and by their sin.

Meanwhile, it is Auburn’s birthright. And that is why we will win the last Iron Bowl ever played, just like we won the first.

And that is why we have a much better shot of winning tomorrow than they do (and … shhhh … they’re just not that good).

And it’s why we’re better.

I quote myself:

Auburn is not pro-football, Auburn is not some damn, trendy logo team, we are Auburn University, we are Auburn, Alabama, we are the heart’s hail mary, the twice-blocked punts, we are 1989, we are 1993, we are 2004, hell, we are 1950, we are Christ-painted sunsets, we are hope in things unseen, we are Spirit – I kid you not, we are Christmas, and Coca-Cola, we are Tygers burning bright in the Forest of the Night…


It’s Americana, boys. It’s country boy goes to town.

“Always remember that Goliath was a 40-point favorite over David.” – Shug

So, gather ye freaking stones, men. Tomorrow, we ride.

War Damn Eagle. To everlasting hell with Alabama.

War Eagle Forever.

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It’s never going to stop…

… like Brad Lester. Last play. “Look at that run.” I cry every time.

Do it again, Brad. And again. And again. This is it.

But Kodi, 2008 might be yours.

Torch the field. Make a cage of fire from which there is no escape. Light it up. 400 yards. No sliding. Go at them like they have the ball.

If you throw an intecerception, so be it. Chunk it down the field. Make it hurt anyone who touches it. If they pick it, relish it. Run down the field, zero in. Strip the ball from them. Hit them harder than they’ve ever been hit. Stand up, stand over them, and look down and say something horrible.

Kodi Burns Kodi Burns Kodi Burns. Make us remember you.

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It just starts gettin’ hazy at this point in the streak… and I was even there, through the flea market of elephant porn and into the upper deck with my grandfather. But I watched the video and it comes back to me and it was fantastic and almost as good as ’05 in it’s own way.

We’re going to win.

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CSJ’s Iron Bowl Vision-‘OH8

Each year before the Iron Bowl, Chris Shelling Jr. has a dream. Last year’s had him stalking JP Wilson on the Tusc. campus and gifting him a pillow. Wilson, surprised, asked the reason. Shelling Jr. replied “so you can bite down on it when Quentin Groves is … ”

New year, new dream. I asked him to send details as soon as possible. They came yesterday.

Not a dream. a vision. I was driving when I noticed two young lovers laying in a pile of leaves. she in orange; he in blue. At this moment, I saw it all. I’ll try to reproduce the vision with failing words:

I am an Auburn man. I have Auburn hands and Auburn feet. Auburn heart. Auburn mind. My Auburn legs propel me to the top of a giant mountain. My Auburn eyes look down and see. One side of the mountain is beauty; the other ugliness. On one side there is a shining “6”; on the other a rusty “12”. On one side there are eagles; on the other there is a dead bear. Astronauts communing with farmers here; lawyers chasing ambulances there. Pat Sullivan is beating cancer; Joe Namath and The Snake are leaving rehab. Tiger walk; Men with toilet paper and detergent boxes on their heads.







And on the border the unwashed masses were building a golden temple to their mercenary leader. Their newest god. More Col. Kurtz than Alexander the Great, he stood before the rabid crowd with his thuggish brigade and his Secret Service (headed by a striped man named Penn Wagers). The trailer parks had emptied, they were all here exalting with chants of “We Rollin”, “Row Tahd”,and even “Rammer Jammer”. It was a spectacle the Auburn people had grown accustomed to, but the Tuscaloosa mouth breather seemed to suffer from some amnesia (maybe it was all the Boone’s their pregnant mothers drank). No one noticed the large eared man with his knife, gun, and missile waiting in the bushes. Not to mention the other seventy or so tigers trained and aimed right at their crimson necks.
It was a bloodbath. The survivors ran back to the dead bear and dreamed of gymnastics season.

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The first quarter of this game was like pornography that God was cool with. Honestly, it got kinda quiet after a while. We were all just kinda lazing on the beach, or sittin’ on the dock of the bay, I guess. People were pulling out wads of cash and taking bets on whether the next play was going to be a sack. It was luxurious.

Bama was back that year, too.

“You can not play all year, you know, but you can make a big catch in the Iron Bowl and you’re going to be remembered forever in Alabama history and that’s just the way this game is. This is the game that everybody remembers.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself, Mr. Croyle.

My friend Charlie went to Kroger and got eleven paper grocery sacks and the ran back to Toomer’s before people really got there. He and Randy were stringing them across the intersection, but the cops put an end to it.


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Grimsley prediction for Bama

1975 Plainsman editrix, Pulitzer nominee, biographer of Charles Schulz, Bo Jackson of Auburn journalism does her annual-ish thing on the Iron Bowl:

Hating Alabama is a worthy passion. It is part of my life, like longing for a white Christmas, or taking in stray dogs.

Buy her new book.

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The student section was a nightmare. I went nomad. I made it over to Dad and Zac right before I saw this. I couldn’t feel my legs. I looked to my right and saw Jesus. Everything was so bright.


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