[WARNING: Youtube video is deliberately NSFW]:
I'm pretty sure I've mentioned my Bammer friends at some point in the past on this blog. Yeah, I have some. It's true. Get raised in Birmingham like me and it's going to happen in spite of your best efforts. Despite their crimson shortcomings, they've proven to be great friends and some of the finest people I know.
Jay Coulter mentioned on Track 'Em last night the unique aspect of this rivalry; the passion and the proximity. Jay pointed out the fact that unlike many rivalries in college football, this is one of the few competitive in-state rivalries. Unlike Michigan-Ohio St. or Texas-Oklahoma, "we work together, live next to each other, and even marry into one another's families." Jay's conclusion here is that this proximity produces an impassioned, but ultimately friendly relationship between Auburn and Alabama fans.
With all due respect to Mr. Coulter (and much is due), that's dead wrong.
Sure, pair any given Auburn fan with any given Alabama fan, and odds are they'll have lots in common and get along just fine. But AUBURN and ALABAMA? They're as far apart as the east is from the west, and the moment those two people put on their college-football-fan hats, those two will be at each other's throats faster than you can say "neutral site". And in this state, we wear our college-football-fan hats an awful lot.
Auburn and Alabama are black and white. They're dogs and cats. It's democracy vs. communism. The two Universities may be similar today, but there's a fundamental difference that permeates through the two fan bases. Don't tell the Alabama fan that the old "cow college vs. 'The Univuhsity'" aspect is gone from this rivalry. And don't tell the Auburn fan that the old undeserved Bammer arrogance isn't there. Certainly don't tell me that--I've seen it and felt it stronger over the past year than possibly at any time in my life. There's genuine animosity there that is palpable, especially this week, and it's founded in much more than football.
This rivalry is about the establishment against the usurper. This rivalry is about the media darling against the stubborn, eternal underdog. This rivalry is about the might and the weight of the Alabama machine against the spirit and the will of the Auburn people. Look no further than this season's two teams to see the fundamental differences in the two sides.
One side went out and found the most popular name to coach and threw the most money at him to entice him to come. One side searched for a diamond in the rough, an unlikely winner hired more for his attitude than his public appeal, or even his track record. One staff is populated by yes men shrinking in the shadow of their great leader. One staff is filled with innovators; men whose collective presence dwarfs that of the one ultimately responsible for their success. One team was anointed champions in August, and later deemed "the only one loss team that could still win it all." One team fought and scratched and clawed its way up the polls, doing whatever it took to win for 11 weeks and throughout colossal distraction, only to be counted out by the so-called experts now.
Both sides will acknowledge these things. And both sides will say their side is in the right. Not that "that's our opinion but you're entitled to your own" but that their side is right. Auburn will tell Alabama that their hubris to think they are strong enough to buy greatness will be their downfall, and that they are foolish to dismiss the unbreakable spirit of the Auburn people, which no amount of money or "trudishun" can quell. Alabama will tell Auburn that they are jealous that they can't be the Univuhsity, that they threw the money at Saban because they are the school of the Bear and that they've earned the right for the best that money can buy, and that the spirit of the Auburn family is simply a false intangible that will ultimately fall to the strength of the Alabama machine.
And that is why we hate them. It's the arrogance, the entitlement. The fact that they simultaneously take pride in their dictum that they have an in state opponent that they work 365 days a year to defeat, all the while claiming Auburn fans have an unhealthy obsession with the great Bamuh. It's the car flags. The damn car flags. The ones that scream I'm better than you because of my football team. My football team from a college I probably didn't even attend.
On Saturday, I will probably meet with my Alabama friends. I will most likely share a beer with them. I will talk with them and laugh with them. But when the conversation turns to football, whether we won or lost, they will be the enemy. I will detest their arrogance. I will hate.
So, to all of the individuals out there who proclaim themselves to be Alabama fans, I say good luck. May the best man win....
But to the "Bama Nation" I have only one thing to say:
Happy Hate Week everyone.
War Damn Eagle