Well I knew it. Somehow I just did. When Brodie got sacked on the first play from scrimmage, I just knew. I should have turned the TV off then. For four straight years, Auburn has beaten Alabama in the Iron Bowl. That hasn’t happened since Pat Dye was the head coach for the Tigers/Eagles (1986-1989). Even though I just had that feeling at the beginning, I did hope that the team would pull it out if for nothing else, but those seniors who have never beaten Auburn and have been through so much. This group of seniors started their careers with Dennis Franchione high-tailing it out of town for Texas A&M. That was and still is to some degree a very fresh wound especially when you hear that your coach is no longer your coach from a patron in the restaurant you happen to be eating in that day. After that, they endured the coaching search that resulted in the hiring of Mike Price only to have him fired 4 months later for off the field indiscretions. If only the University President had a morals clause in his contract…but I won’t get into that. In any case, Mike Price is now the head coach at UTEP. After his firing, the athletic department rushed to find a new coach and ended up with Mike Shula who had about 100 days to get ready for the season opener. As a result, his first season wasn’t all that stellar. Last season seemed to be headed in the right direction until Brodie tore his ACL in the knee opposite the one he tore in his junior year of high school causing him to miss his entire senior high school season, so actually this year is the only senior season he’s ever played. After all that junk they went through having to play under probation for NCAA violations that occurred before they even signed their letters of intent, coaching changes, injuries, etc., this season seemed to be looking up. We were 9-0 going into the LSU game but playing without our senior center JB Closner due to an injury late it the Mississippi State game. LSU picked us apart and we lost the game in overtime 16-13. But I thought we held our heads up high and started focusing on the next game at hand. The big one. The one to make or break the season. All the seniors definitely knew how important this game was. Their last chance to beat Auburn during their career. Their bowl selection saving grace. Their chance to say we had a 10-1 regular season. But alas NO. Brodie got sacked 11 times for whatever reason. I don’t care…all I know is it shouldn’t have happened. Auburn came to play and our scout team apparently got on the bus instead of our starters. Auburn scored all their points in the 1st half to dig us a hole that we had no chance of getting out of.
But here’s the thing. I’m a bigger picture kind of girl. We beat South Carolina, Florida, and Tennessee this year. And I wouldn’t trade any one of those wins to have won on Saturday. We outscored our opponents this season 250-124 and won 82% of our games. In the third quarter alone, we outscored them 74-13. So what we didn’t beat Auburn. That doesn’t mean we never will again. So what we didn’t get to the national championship. That doesn’t mean we never will again. So what we didn’t go undefeated. That doesn’t mean we never will again. This group of guys accomplished so much on the Alabama football field despite their humble beginnings and struggles with adversity. We have a bowl game left to play. It won’t be a BCS bowl because we dropped to 14th in the rankings. But I don’t really mind settling for the Peach, Cotton, or Outback. I remember before the BCS when these used to be really good bowl games to get invited to. I’m looking forward to finding out where we go.
So in the end…I’m still smiling and singing the fight song. It’s sort of a requirement that comes with that piece of paper that cost $50,000…but it’s a requirement that I appreciate, am proud of, and love. For all those seniors on that team, I’m proud to stand up and say thanks for playing for us. The Bear would have been proud of what you accomplished. You ain’t nothin’ but winners in my book. I’m thrilled to be an alumnus with you. ROLL TIDE ROLL!!!