No one – no one – was expecting that visit to the woodshed.
Clemson 44, Alabama 16.
The first email in my inbox Tuesday morning came from a reader in Georgia. “Tell Clemson they’d better guard their trees! He’s out, isn’t he?”
Auburn fans, of course, know well the reference to one certain Bama-fan tree-killer, but Tide fans certainly have no reason to panic just because they were humbled by one of their own.
They love to hate us
There is a reason the SEC has a target on its back.
Southeastern Conference football, and pretty much all sports, ranks among the best year-in and year-out. Such is true and is consistent as butter on a biscuit.
We win hard, we lose hard. Perhaps Lewis Grizzard, the late humor columnist and author, put it best when it comes to SEC fans not liking their sports sugarcoated, win or lose:
“If you want something sweet, order the pound cake. Anybody who puts sugar in the corn bread is a heathen who doesn't love the Lord, not to mention Southeastern Conference football.”
Thank you, Ed Williams, for finding and posting that quote after the game.
And Ed, so you Bama fans know, is an Auburn man.
Perhaps the only solace Bama fans found during their post-game shock was that if they had to get beat, at least it was William Christopher Swinney who beat them.
Or, befitting of an Alabama native having a nickname: Dabo.
The former Crimson Tide player and admirer of his Bama coach Gene Stallings checked all the boxes for this one: recruiting, coaching, motivation, preparedness, execution, winning.
His continued and seemingly sincere praise of God after the game won hearts and mammas of recruits across the land.
Despite the growing urban myth – I’m sorry, I shouldn’t use Urban in anything, should I? – that Dabo will someday return to Tuscaloosa when he is called home like the Bear was, don’t bet the house on it.
A) Nick Saban was proven human in Monday night’s humiliating loss, but since 2009 he has not gone more than two years without winning another national championship. He has six in all.
He didn’t get that many nor that kind of record by quitting after the years he fell short. Tomorrow is another day. Like the insurance commercial – he’s seen that, and covered it before.
B) Saban, like Dabo at Clemson, Kirby Smart at Georgia, Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M and Gus Malzahn at Auburn, among others, has recruited well and can win on any given game day. Saban also has a returning quarterback named Tua who should have won the Heisman Trophy this year.
C) Dabo has built something special at Clemson, which by the way is Auburn’s cousin university; so-called in part because of shared Tiger football origins linked to famed coach John Heisman, who coached at Auburn from 1895-1899, and then at Clemson from 1900-1903.
Clemson in the SEC?
OK, so how about this: What if we could recruit Clemson to the SEC?
The South Carolina school most certainly fits the SEC bloodline better.
Better than what? SEC fans can answer that without me having to insult anyone.
Think about how the annual Clemson-Georgia and Clemson-South Carolina rivalry games would affect conference standings, empower the East vs. West division rivalry, and bring Bama’s Dabo and Auburn’s cousin into the fold where it belongs.
Arrogance abounds here in the eyes and emotions of any non-SEC fan reading this.
That’s fine. Read some more Lewis Grizzard.
Circle the calendar
So, what’s ahead in 2019?
Bama opens the season Aug. 31 in Atlanta against Duke. I think in football.
It plays at A&M, at Mississippi State and at Auburn during the season.
Auburn also begins play on Aug. 31, in Dallas against Oregon and another of the nation’s top returning quarterbacks.
Games on the road at A&M and Florida will not be easy. The Tigers will host State, Georgia and Bama at home.
It will be interesting to see how significant the Iron Bowl is at season’s end.
Yikes; just, yikes
Well, there is one piece of common ground that seems to have fans from all schools griping after Monday night’s game:
That horrid halftime show.
Next time, give us the real bands.
Troy Turner is editor of the Opelika-Auburn News. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @troyturnernews.