Apologies for my absence the past few weeks (I'm assuming you care, and if you're reading, guessing you do). It's been a busy holiday season, and really, not much has happened that inspired me to blog here during that time frame.
In any case, I feel like we should give 2011 its just due before the new year happens and we can start talking about the BCS and our up-and-down basketball squad that might be good, only we're not sure how good just yet.
Frankly, 2011 was a lousy year. I'm not here to complain, really, about Auburn winning the national championship — maybe it wasn't the greatest moment of my life, but members of my family were really happy about it, and I can be happy for them (even if I'm grinding my teeth in the process).
But the Auburn-Alabama rivalry — specifically, its ongoing disintegration — is part of the thing that made this year so bad. Instead of celebrating, we let the lunatic fringe take over (on both sides). It was an embarrassing moment, and things didn't get much better.
We spent all offseason hearing about scandals, either related to agents or boosters or the head coach himself. I briefly contemplated fleeing to Indochina like Bruce Wayne after his parents died, but people don't really speak English there, and I probably wouldn't really get to meet Liam Neeson. Basketball season provided some distraction, but it ultimately left us cold and we lost in the NIT final, anyway. Maybe we laid the foundation for something special. Maybe it was a flash in the pan. Whatever — it wasn't enough to make us forget the giant black cloud around our favorite sport.
And, of course, there was the weather. When you think about the year 2011, the first and last thing I'll think about is April 27. The recovery is now 8 months old, but no amount of rebuilt structures will replace the lives we lost, or fix the way everyone around here jumps when they hear the words "severe" and "weather" on TV or the radio. I can't drive through Tuscaloosa anymore without choking up at least once, and Shoal Creek Valley right here at home will never be the same, either. It's pretty much hung over everything else that's happened since.
There were other tears, of course. My wife lost the horse and the dog she's owned since she was in middle school, and all year we dealt with my granddad's cancer (he died the day before Thanksgiving). And there was the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, just for good measure.
I sort of thought the actual start of football season would be a bit of a balm for everybody. It was not. Much as I've enjoyed this excellent and mostly unremarkable Alabama team — and further, much as I've enjoyed the trips to Pennsylvania and Florida — it's been a pretty dull season, aside from the conference realignment sideshow, which is seemingly never-ending. Even the team's berth in the championship game has mostly been something that's required us to defend ourselves, rather than celebrate. And if football season isn't fun, then what's the point, right?
Not that it's been all bad, obviously. The famous Redhead did finish her grad school program and got a job — strangely, so did I, though the high-paying job has yet to materialize — and my brother has moved to Panama City, where he's working as a youth minister. Dad enjoyed a year as a retired person.
On the football side, we did thump Tennessee and Auburn, and had yet another bonafide Heisman finalist in Trent Richardson. And we're in line to win at least a share of a championship, no matter how ridiculous.
Nevertheless, I'm not longing for 2011 to hang around forever. Here's to better times in 2012. Even if it's the end of times.
As a programming note, my resolution is to get up earlier and work harder this coming year. Meaning it's time to get back to regular blogging. Starting next week. Roll Tide.