Auburn: Georgia On My Mind

Georgia On My Mind.

It’s hard to choose a favorite version of that song, but I have boiled it down to two artists… Brother Ray Charles and Willie. Great song, great artists.+

I now live in Georgia. I’ve been here since July of 1996. I’ve enjoyed living here very much and I’m proud to, now, be called a Georgian.+

Dennis Quaid’s Doc Holliday was conversing with Wyatt Earp, in Kevin Costner’s movie adaptation of Earp’s life, and spoke of hailing from Georgia. In that conversation he told Earp, “Georgia is a very green state Wyatt Earp.” It is. It is a beautiful state. Quaid’s performance of Doc in Kevin Costner’s Wyatt Earp is often, wrongly, overlooked. It’s been obscured by Val Kilmer’s brilliant, and oft quoted, take on Holliday in Tombstone.+

Doc was from Griffin, GA. He was a dentist and, unfortunately, he was felled with tuberculosis at the early age of thirty-five. He spent the last portion of his life in Colorado and is buried in Glenwood Springs. I worked in Glenwood Springs for a few days back in 2005. I went to the Doc Holliday Saloon. I was told you had to walk about a mile to get to Doc’s grave and I chose not to make that trek. Stupid, when I recall that time, as I walk three or four miles a day anyway. Oh well.+

But I digress…+

The point is I sometimes think of Doc Holliday when I think of the state of Georgia. And I never fail to smile when I think of Doc. I’m sure our romanticized notions of him are greatly skewed by Hollywood. That’s ok. They bring us joy and we love to quote him. “I’m your huckleberry.” “Why Ike, whatever do you mean? I don’t know if I could stand it if you weren’t my friend.” And another of my favorites quotes from Doc in Tombstone, “I have not yet begun to defile myself.”+

Even now I find myself laughing out loud at the quotes from Tombstone. Yes, I could have used a social media term for that phrase but I’m growing weary of those trite acronyms.+

So yes, Georgia, and many things Georgian, are on my mind. They always are this time of year.+

The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, first played in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park in 1892, is upon us. There is a plaque, in that beautiful oasis in Atlanta’s Midtown, which commemorates the hallowed ground on which that skirmish took place. There should be. It IS a sacred space. We take our football VERY seriously down here.+

College football has been referred to as a religion in these parts. I have no problem with that. It is very much a religion. We have our rites. We sing our songs. We have our saints. We revere our respective schools. And we often find ourselves praying like hell on the sabbath. Yes, Saturday is the TRUE sabbath day.+

I was born into this “religion”. My daddy graduated from Auburn. He met my mama there. They were married on a Sunday because mama wanted to attend Auburn First Baptist Church on her wedding day.+

I attended Auburn in late 1970, early 1971 and early 1973. I found myself asked to move on from the Loveliest Village and seek higher education elsewhere… TWICE. Auburn did not like my study habits.+

My son also attended Auburn. His name is Auburn Luke LeCroy. If I had had a son at earlier junctures of my life, he could have been named Patrick Terry ( Sullivan to Beasley) or Phil Gargis. Gargis still holds the record for career rushing yards by a quarterback at Auburn. Nick Marshall will have something to say about that before the 2014 campaign is completed.+

We have had various pets given names like Bo, Daisy Dye and Frank Thomas. We’ve never had a “Round Mound of Rebound” residing in our home, but it’s never too late if I keep eating like I do on football weekends.+

I have been called a lot of names in my life, more on “Bird” some other time, but one moniker that I am extremely proud of, and humbled by, is that of an Auburn Man.+

A quick story about being an Auburn Man. One afternoon, many years ago, I checked into the Omni Hotel at CNN Center. My bellman hovered nearby as I checked-in. When I opened my wallet to scrounge for a tip, I found that I had no cash. I told the bellman that I would be back later with his tip. I found an ATM, got some cash and then found the bellman not far from where I left him. I gave him his gratuity. Another hotel guest, standing nearby, had witnessed the whole thing. He approached me and said, “I knew you would be back and give that man his tip. You have on an Auburn shirt.”+

I tell that story not to brag or pat myself on the back. Also I’m not saying that those from other institutions of higher learning don’t possess the good qualities that we Auburn people see and expect from each other. But I am saying Auburn, and the Auburn Family, is very, very special. To quote the last line of the Auburn Creed, “I believe in Auburn and love it.”+

I have always thought of Auburn and Georgia as sister schools. Their people possess many of the same qualities. There is a shared history between the two schools. Just to give you one small example of this, Pat Dye played at Georgia and coached at Auburn. Vince Dooley played at Auburn and coached at Georgia.+

I won’t go into ALL of the similarities these two great institutions share but they are plenteous. “Google” them up if you are not familiar with these shared peoples and traits.+

This Saturday evening, on ESPN, Auburn and Georgia will renew the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry for the 118th time. The game will be played “between the hedges” in Athens. Auburn leads the series 55-54. There have been 8 games that ended in a tie.+

Who will win this round of the storied series? I have NO idea. I am thinking of getting out of the prediction game altogether. This has been one of the absolute WILDEST college football seasons EVER.+

This will also be the first game I have not attended this crazy season. I will be glued to the HDTV and screaming WAR EAGLE, at the top of my lungs, early and often. I will be clad in burnt orange and navy blue. There will also be thousands of other Auburn fans doing exactly same here in the great state of Georgia.+

There will also be countless thousands of others in the Peach State sporting the red and black with great pride and enthusiasm. They will be screaming GO DAWGS and barking like crazy.+

May the best team win!!! (I just hope it’s Auburn).

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