This month marks the sixth start of one of the most culturally relevant seasons in my daughter’s life – college football, in an SEC household, where parental alma maters are about as agreeable as Corso and Herbstreit on any given autumn Saturday.
So far, my Ella’s with the Tide – an allegiance I hope to reinforce this month with a Mommy and Me trip to Bryant-Denny on Sept. 13 for Alabama versus Southern Miss. And I must give credit where it is due. Sister can hang for a solid two quarters of live football action, without whining or requiring constant trips to the concession stand. She’s come a long way on her shaker etiquette, too (for this, my cheekbones and my patience are especially grateful).
Making a visit to my sorority house is a must on any trip to T-town. As are a walk along the Quad, a visit to Denny Chimes and a tour of the Walk of Champions, to say nothing of the choice people watching these locales afford (Auburn fans need not snicker here – the terms “Bammer” and “Barner” exist for good reason). In these moments, I love to watch her, all wide-eyed and insatiably curious, exploring campus, taking in the traditions of my collegiate home.
I’d claim my son’s pigskin loyalties as well, albeit a bit more complicated given how the folks who regularly watch games at our house have already laid claim to him, even dubbing Connor the “Golden Ticket” so convinced are they that Auburn plays better whenever he is in the room. Not that I’m giving up, but admittedly, it’ll be tough going.
The other day, I felt a little piece of me die inside when I gave Connor the choice of two outfits to wear, only to have him promptly reject both options and instead fish out the navy blue Auburn shirt I had hoped would become a forgotten birthday present, banished to the bottom of the dresser drawer. Well played, Golden Ticket. Perhaps I underestimated your ability to succumb to collegiate sports persuasion, even if you are only three years old.
Living in a House Divided is not my ideal, but that’s partly what makes football season so awesome, isn’t it? We’re part of a state that is for the most part, healthily divided between two teams with such meaningful legacies that it makes the next four months, plus the sweetness of January’s bowl games, so darn – entertaining.
Occasionally for the work I do outside this newspaper, I find myself driving through some of Alabama’s most rural roadways. The kinds of places where you’d better have satellite radio or a book on CD to keep you going. On one such recent trip, I was scanning through the FM dial, desperate to find something intellectually stimulating on the radio. My Sirius/XM adapter had chosen a fine time to hit the fritz, and there was no local NPR station to pick up, not for miles. The only CDs I had in my car were a tired Brad Paisley album and an old Amy Grant Christmas collection. On the radio? A steady stream of static. Then, bingo! I knew it was Charles from Realtown before Finebaum even announced his name. So maybe this did not pass muster as intellectually stimulating, but the segment’s sheer entertainment value more than made up for its lack of educational gravitas.
The bizarre actions of outlier fanatics notwithstanding, I love this rivalry. Our passion to see our teams bring out their collective best every time they play is what makes each college football Saturday such fun. And the cute game day clothes. And the endless grazing of who-cares-how-many-calories-are-in-these-because-they-taste-so-good appetizers. And the yummy tailgate cocktails (basil vodka gimlet, anyone?)
Roll Eagle. War Tide. Raise your glass for SEC Pride!
May my team give yours hell (and vice versa),