Thursday, January 28, 2010

on superiority, football and ... otherwise

Just a quick thought on an emerging trend I've begun to notice over the past few weeks and months: anyone who reads this blog knows me well enough to know that I'm a pretty moderate guy. As recently as last summer, I opined that I was concerned about the direction of the Auburn-Alabama rivalry. And this still rings true, particularly now with both schools recruiting at a very high level.

It's a bizarre thing, and it's probably existed for a long time: for whatever reason, Alabama and Auburn fans now seem to be opining about which of them possesses the moral high ground. It's not enough to just be on the winning side — fans of both stripes now feel the need to prove that being a devotee of a certain program simply makes you a better person than everybody else.

Exhibit A: my friend at warblogle.com, who ran out of ways to say "we shoulda beat those guys" after Alabama's comeback win at Auburn last November, and instead posted a hilariously misguided rant about how Auburn people are just better than Alabama fans.
Most Alabama fans just like to ignore these facts, and only care about winning. Don't get me wrong, during a game I could say the same about myself. Winning is very, very important. That's sort of why we have athletics right? As I walk out of the stadium following an Auburn loss, I'm not thinking about our players being better men, but in the long run, that's all that matters, and will eventually lead to better days and championships.
I know that if a program is built on solid values, class, and respect that many years of greatness will follow. I know that if you don't care enough to bite your tongue in public, look like you want to punch someone just because they asked you a question, and demand that your players pile up the score to satisfy your hatred, then the house of cards will soon begin to fall.
I'll end this with a question. If you are a recruit's father and want your son to go to a good school with a good coaching staff that is worried about your son becoming a better man and then a better football player. Who would you choose?

It's a genuinely hysterical piece of reading, if only because it becomes obvious about three paragraphs into it that a) Kurt has never been within 500 yards of an organized football field and b) he's obviously attempting to get the goat of Alabama fans (who, unfortunately, are kind of easy in this respect).
But the point is that Kurt believes that growing up an Auburn fan makes him a better person than me. And since Nick Saban swears occasionally — he's from the Midwest, and that kind of stuff isn't as frowned upon as it is in the South (come visit with my mother-in-law sometime if you doubt me) — and because he may or may not have intentionally run up the score on Auburn in 2008 (he didn't, but whatever) then cheering for him to succeed, in Kurt's eyes, is a demerit on my eternal report card. Whatever.

Exhibit B: Our friends at the Capstone Report posted a genuinely strange story about the wives of Gene Chizik and Gus Malzahn teaming up to accost Paul Finebaum prior to the Outback Bowl.
Ever wondered why the Birmingham media is so servile to the Auburn Tigers? Now you know. When a media personality dares to challenge the Auburn family, the attack dogs, err bitches, err dogs, err wives, err harpies bare their claws and scratch out the eyes of dissenters.
Doubt this is how Auburn tries to keep the media in line? There is even a blog dedicated to attacking media personalities that dare question the superiority of Auburn. The Realist Nation compared Finebaum to Johnny Ola. The nicest thing the blog said about Finebaum was when it called him a “menacing, bald-headed squirt.”
When you anger the Auburn cult then this is the treatment you get.

Once again, it's hard to know how serious to take this post, since the CR spends the majority of its time attempting to get the goat of Auburn fans (who, in spite of themselves, post there in droves). But the point is that Capstone wants to paint Auburn's coaching family in an ill light, as a means of proving Alabama's superiority, both on the field and off, to its in-state rival.
(Note: Frankly, I'm all for anyone who wants to attack Paul Finebaum. He's not biased, but a good slap in the face probably wouldn't hurt.)

As I said earlier, I guess this has been going on for some time now, and it's difficult to know exactly where it started. I've always blamed David Housel for it, if only because he was the bombastic blowhard who had the audacity to call Alabama's first visit to Auburn "the equivalent of the Berlin Wall coming down" and occasionally makes other hilarious remarks, such as 2002, when he compared the rivalry to World War II and vowed "we will win the war," whatever that means. But it probably existed for some time before him, I just don't know the history of it.

The point is, it's BS. All of it. I'm not an Alabama fan because I decided it would make me a better person; I became an Alabama fan because my dad is one (like his dad is) and because I thought it was cool. And that's really about it.
The college football experience in this state is special. No one denies that. But Tuscaloosa is extra special to me ... because that's where I spent the bulk of my existence for four years — I met my wife there, made most of the friends I still hold dear there, became an adult there. Tuscaloosa will always mean more to me than anywhere else because of those things.
And Auburn is the same way for people like Kurt and my friend Zach and even Matt "Idratherloseasanauburnfanthanwinasanythingelse" Collins. Is there something extra special about Auburn that drew them to the place? They went to school there. So, for them, the answer is yes.
(Note: No one feels this way about UAB. Just for the record.)

My only thought is that we cheer for the teams we cheer for because we like them and that's that. Maybe we don't root for one another to succeed; hell, maybe we openly root for each other to fail. Doesn't make better or worse people.
(Although we're all better than Tennessee fans. Those people are animals.)

6 comments:

--:: Eric St. Clair::-- said...

from my observations, it appears to me that the people pointing across the church aisle (so to speak) are guilty of what they're accusing the other side of doing. in addition, nothing amazes me more than AU people calling UA people (and vice versa) rednecks or whatever. pot, I'd like to introduce you to kettle. one side claiming a higher moral standard is like claiming to be king of the douchebags. take a look in the mirror folks. you're pointing fingers at yourselves.

Todd Jones said...

I feel that way about UAB. =(

kevin0ives said...

As an Auburn fan, I've never gotten all the "superiority" or "little brother syndrome" that gets bandied about by either side.

Call it more apathy towards Alabama then anything else.

The "sidewalk alum" argument is stupid as well. The majority of Alabama fans didn't go to 'Bama, but the same can be said for Auburn fans.

Bottom line, the economy is in the toilet, unemployment is at ridiculous levels, and it just kind of sucks all around.

If wearing a National Championship shirt gets someone through the day, or even the year. Then more power to them.

B Tubbs said...

Will,

You and Jerry over at Joe Cribbs' Car Wash have in the past displayed the most level headed approach to this rivalry of any in the blogosphere. Sadly, it would appear that Jerry over the last few months has stumbled into the darkness of this rivalry, leaving you as the lone voice of reason crying out in a storm of madness.

I admit that when I blogged there were times that I wrote things with the intent being to get the goat of Auburn fans. However, I did it from a position of compassion and kindness; those people do some unspeakable things to goats - the horror, the horror.

Of course, that was written in jest. My family tree bears fruit of the orange and blue variety, as well as the crimson and white. Some people can't keep in this thing in perspective (maybe we've all fell prey to the darkness at time), and some people can't appreciate a good joke, especially if it's about them and their school.

Personally, I laughed out loud when someone left an orange flyer on my desk that said "I got my Auburn t-shirt because I went to school there. You got your Alabama t-shirt because you went to Walmart". Whoever came up with that can't be all bad, except for what they do to their poor goat.

The Coopers said...

Yo,

We have discussed this before. This rivalry is stupid. You have bama fans who cannot celebrate another national title because they are too busy trying to throw out crap about Auburn (see capstone report). Then, you have Auburn fans who have accused alabama of cheating for 3 years, yet in the midst of one of the best classes in recent memory, Auburn fans would say there is no way that we are doing anything outside the rule book. That doesn't add up to me. You also have the guy who just cannot type the word alabama with a captial letter. Damn you rivalry for stealing my gramatical integrity!

Jerry Hinnen said...

Whoa, whoa ... B Tubbs, I'm sorry, I have to ask: at what point(s) did I stumble into darkness? I won't argue that I may have been more ... chippy ... at times this past season. But was I that bad? I ask sincerely--I've always felt like levelheadedness was one of the things my blog had going for it, and if that's slipping that's a bad thing.

Not to overrun Will's comment thread, but I'd want to ask him the same question, or to or any Tide-based readers hanging out here: what crossed the line for you?