Question 1: Is the Iron Bowl the best rivalry in the country? Why or why not? What is your greatest Iron Bowl memory? Worst Iron Bowl memory? If you're an outsider to the game/state, on what level of crazy do you place Alabama and Auburn fans?
On the grounds of having beaten all of those questions to death many years ago, I'm going to cop out on this one. Scott Brown and I covered this ground in great detail in our book The Uncivil War a decade and a half back. For those who are interested, Amazon usually has several used copies on sale (for the Bama fans who aren't familiar with the book, it's a bipartisan effort--Scott is one of yours).
All that said, as we rumble through one of the flat-out ugliest periods in the history of the rivalry, here's a short excerpt from my introduction to that book, one that tried to address the positive aspects of this old family feud:
My favorite part of every Game, every year, has always been the playing of the National Anthem just before the battle begins. Stop and picture the scene for a moment. The stadium is always packed to capacity and beyond. The fans have been shouting at the players warming up for about two hours, and at each other for days, weeks, months. And then, for a brief moment, all fall silent as the band on the field plays a familiar tune. You can hear the wind as it wraps around the bowl of an arena where a moment earlier, you would have been lucky to hear yourself screaming. You can even hear the sound of the American flag whipping in that wind as it is raised above the throng. You look out at the vast gathering standing in expectant silence, and you realize that it is not hate at all that has brought them to this place, to this cathedral of grass and concrete and steel. You realize that this game, this experience, is a reaffirmation of what we really are. It is a statement of family, of state, of country, and yes, of religion. You take a deep breath of the cool Southern wind, and in that magical pause, you see all the things that bring us together, and you look far beyond the things that tear us apart.
And then, of course, the song ends, and you roar out your school's battle cry at the top of your lungs, and the war is on for another Game and another year. But you are always left with that warm stillness, filled with giddy anticipation, and whether you win or lose, that feeling will always be with you, until you come back the next year and experience it again. That's what draws us back, year after year, that's what keeps us thinking about this larger than life THING that happens once every twelve months.
Monday, November 22, 2010
My contribution to this week's pre-Auburn/Alabama Blogger Roundtable is up at al.com. A preview:
Posted by Will Collier at 11/22/2010