With football season so close, I’m getting ready for the best football atmosphere of all time down on the Plains. My buddy Jason came across this article from ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt after his visit to the Plains for the Auburn-Georgia game in November 2004. It’s one of those articles that Jason finds every year and sends out, and we all get even a bit more excited (if that’s possible) about the upcoming season.
Imagine you have been married to the same woman for more than 30 years, you love her more than anything – nothing could ever change that. You have shared many of your best memories with her and would never leave her under any circumstances. Then you spend a day with a woman who in some ways is more beautiful than your wife…you may never see her again…but you won’t forget her for a while either.
Maryland is my wife…Auburn is “the other woman”.
If you all love college sports – and I assume you do – you really need to see a game there. I have been lucky to see a lot of places, I have not seen a lot of places like that. It’s an amazing scene in every respect.
Granted, I was there for # 3 vs. # 5…Auburn was 9-0 so it was bound to be good.
I arrived at night with the stadium lit up like a Christmas tree. It sits dead in the middle of campus. A shrine…literally their church – only services are held on Saturday. Made me say….hmmmm…this is promising.
Gameday scene – tailgating in every available space…and not like some field full of RV’s – though they had that too. But literally people grilling and drinking in every available spot for as far as the eye could see. I lost count of the number of bands and stages and this was at 9 AM.
The Fans – I knew I was in a ” red state ” from all the Suburbans with W stickers but the truth of it is, this part of Alabama is an orange state. Every man woman and child is in the same shade of orange. Not unusual I know…but THIS was…they are nice, friendly, and polite – to GEORGIA FANS. Nobody called anyone in Black and Red **** or *sshole…nobody told them they sucked…. These people are your friends, you don’t know it yet because you haven’t met them – but when you do – you have met a friend. you want a beer ? some bar- B – Q? grab some. Let’s talk for a while….war eagle…let’s have a good game. I saw this at tailgate after tailgate. Stragglers who wander by are offered anything that’s available – didn’t matter what color they were wearing. This is the oldest rivalry in the South – they call it Brother vs. Brother and they mean it. Now there are certainly cliche’s about down home country sensibilities – but these folks embodied the best part of the notion of southern hospitality. Though many did admit it’s a tad LESS civil for the
Tiger Walk :
Impossible to describe. Im – possible. A human welcome mat for the team. The team walks through several blocks to Jordan-Hare through a sea of people. I asked somebody how many folks were there and was told they could never come up with an accurate head count but that they were certain it was “well in excess of 25,000 people.” That looked a little light to me…I would have bought 40 grand. 2 hours before kick the streets in all directions were completely – and I mean COMPLETELY jammed. It was like a religious experience. If you can be in the middle of this – and I was lucky enough to get to walk through it – and not be overwhelmed, you are dead my friend. (I just went Larry King on your asses – sorry) I was honestly in awe.
The eagle circles as 87,521 people ( less the UGA fans ) cheer Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar EAGLE HEY!!! The eagle pounces on some meat product and the hair on the back of your neck stands up…then if you are still unimpressed you get an F-16 flyover and were off and running. Auburn dominates, the band plays, the fans hoot and holler louder than anywhere I have ever been (and go Spinal tap and take it to volume 11 when UGa tries to audible) … 24 – 6 and it’s time for more food and drink…but before that…
Toomer’s corner :
Everyone converges on the intersection of college st and whatever the other road is and they toilet paper every tree in sight. By the time it’s over, it looks like a blizzard has rolled through Alabama. There are no riots, no police, no cars set on fire. There are families from grandparents to infants chucking rolls of toilet paper all over the place. Again, I just shake my head at a loss…and maybe a little jealous.
It’s a special place, the best scene I have ever seen for college football. I have ZERO doubt “our” TEAM could someday be as good. As fans though, perhaps we should aspire to be as classy as those I was hosted by. The type of hostile, vile garbage we are subjected to on the road and are certainly guilty of at home is just embarrassing when you see how they do it
elsewhere. Not preaching here – just some thoughts of one VERY proud Terrapin after seeing the light Auburn style.