Ramblin’ 4/20/17 (And the Summer of ’73)

Have mercy! It’s been far too long since we rambled! The truth of the matter is that I have been doing a whole lot of reading (James Lee Burke) and very little writing. I need to do both. We shall strive to do better.

It’s April 20th or 4/20. 4/20 is a huge day for many who partake of cannabis sativa. Here is an article that seeks to trace the origins of  this “high” holy day.

*Disclaimer*  The editorial staff at Ramblin’ in no way condones the use of mind altering substances. But if one chooses to do so… be cool. My apologies to Jeff Sessions.

And what has Apple Music conjured up for us today? Rock Hits: 1973.

1973. Whew! That was the year that was. It started with my second attempt to master an academic agenda at Auburn University, which also failed for a second time, and ended with the University of Alabama being upset by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Sugar Bowl on 12/31. Yes, the Tide was a 7-point-favorite and there were many of us in Wilcox County who lost a goodly sum of money on that contest. I won’t name names but you know who you are.

Sigh.

From mid-March through mid-September of ’73 I was a disc jockey at WMFC AM radio in the “Hub of Southwest Alabama”, Monroeville. Six days a week. Sunday through Friday. I went on the air at 6AM and completed my shift at “high” noon.

We opened with gospel music and a Church of Christ preacher and then news, weather, and sports. At 7:08 AM we went to pop music. Suffice it to say, the powers-that-be did not care for Led Zeppelin at 7:08. Fine. Next day, ‘Shout Bamalama’ by Wet Willie. They didn’t like that either.

They also didn’t like me smoking cigarettes in the control room, speeding away, while I drummed my fingers and waited for the preachers to conclude their devotionals. There was also a Southern Baptist minister at 9 AM. I don’t think he liked me. His daughter did, though.

I was summarily dismissed from my position in September. I won’t go into details. You’ll have to speak to me personally about that little “misunderstanding.”

Sigh.

To my knowledge there was no official “4/20” celebration in the “Hub City.” If you came to 328 Lazenby St. during those days I can assure you there was one. There would have been on 4/21, 6/22 and 7/23, as well.

Also there were cattle owners in Peterman and Tunnel Springs that were puzzled by a few “long hairs” so interested in their pastures in those times.

Again, details will have to be obtained form moi.

The Psychedelic Summer of ’73 she was.

*See disclaimer above*

Some of those songs from that eventful time? Money, Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting, We’re an American Band, Kodachrome, Live and Let Die, Tie a Yellow Ribbon, and Stuck in the Middle With You.

And so, late September found me running hard on my $35 per week unemployment check, falling for a young lady down there, and, then, back to Camden, AL and reuniting with my homies. As one, now prominent citizen, said as we were riding around and sipping Schlitz one October afternoon, “Welcome back to society.”

Auburn went 6-5 that fall. It was the year they went to an 11 game schedule. It was also the first year that freshman began to play, again, on the varsity. I attended the Chattanooga, Ole Miss, LSU, Houston, and Florida games. They went 3-2 with the losses coming to LSU and Florida.

My mother talked me into going back to school at Troy and I applied there and was accepted late that autumn.

It was there, in the dog days of the summer of ’75 (which was becoming far too similar to the summer of ’73) that I found myself, late on the night of August 1, prostrate at the altar of the Episcopal church in Troy begging God to forgive me and come into my life.

He did.

I was, five years later, ordained as a Southern Baptist minister. As one of my fraternity brothers told me several years after the ‘event’, “Bird, they still talk about it down in Troy.” I wonder what those long-suffering preachers who, patiently, tolerated my presence in the WMFC control room would think about that. God bless them.

Amazing Grace… truly.

May that same grace be yours today.

 

 

 

 

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Auburn vs. Alabama: Tough Times at Legion Field

Our Managing Editor, at the behest of our Executive Editor, asked some of us here at Campus Pressbox to do a piece on our chosen team’s rival. Auburn has a few exciting rivalries bubbling and brewing as the 2016 season fast approaches. In the SEC West, LSU has become a very good one since the divisions were aligned in 1992. Arkansas has reared its Hawg head with Bret Bielema making noise out in Fayetteville, and this game has become a little testy at times.

Over in the SEC East, Georgia has and will always be Auburn’s biggest rival. Although, the Bulldogs have had the better of it, by far, lately, winning eight of ten in The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.

Ok, ok! You know, as well as I do, where this is going…

Auburn vs. Alabama

The game is better known as… everyone, all at once… The Iron Bowl. But I don’t prefer that designation for the greatest and grandest rivalry in college football today. It’s the Auburn-Alabama game, or the Alabama-Auburn game, depending on which side you are affiliated with. Here is my take on that subject.

Back to the business at hand. We were asked to speak to which of these games are our team’s best and worst losses in the series, which ones we would like to live, re-live, do over, or delete; and the implications any changes in the outcomes would have on the current teams or traditions.

Auburn’s Best Loss

The 1981 game would have to be my choice as the Tigers’ best loss to the Crimson Tide. Pat Dye was in his first year as Auburn’s head coach. His record was 5-5 coming into this game and a win would have put Auburn in a bowl game for the first time since 1974, when Auburn annihilated Darrel Royal’s Texas Longhorns, in the Gator Bowl, to the tune of 27-3.

To heighten the drama, Alabama head coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant, stood at 314 total wins which had him tied with Amos Alonzo Stagg for the most ever in college football history. No one gave Auburn much of a chance to deny Bryant his place as the winningest coach ever. Bama was an 11.5-point favorite.

Somebody forgot to tell Auburn.

Bama scored first to take a 7-0 lead, but the Tigers knotted it on a 63-yard touchdown run by George Peoples in the second quarter.

Both teams tallied a touchdown in quarter number three and it stood 14-14 entering the final stanza. Auburn kicked a field goal to take a 17-14 lead early, and the Legion Field crowd held its collective breath as the often non-functional clock continued to tick. A shovel pass to Jesse Bendross put Bama in front 21-17 and Linnie Patrick ran for a 15-yard TD to cap the scoring and give Bryant his 315th win, by the hardest.

The mood of Auburn fans, after the game, was not dejection, at least from those whom we interacted with at that time. Optimism was palpable as Coach Dye’s team had laid the foundation for what was about to become the Golden Era of Auburn football.

The Tigers did indeed upset the Tide the following year, to end a nine game losing streak, as a young freshman named Vincent “Bo” Jackson went “over the top” late in the fourth quarter to give Auburn a 23-22 victory. Starting with that monumental win, Auburn’s record against Alabama stands at 18-16 in this classic football series.

And so, if I had to re-live a loss to our arch-rivals, it would have to be this 1981 game. I could full well live with that knowing what was in the offing. If we got a do-over on it, I would have Auburn pick off that shovel pass and run it back the other way for a touchdown, take a 10-point lead, and win by a field goal, 24-21. The Bear would not have gotten his 315th win that day, and it would have been the beginning of a three-game winning streak for Auburn.

This would not have huge implications on the current team or traditions, but it would provide an immense sense of satisfaction for Tiger players and fans, and put Auburn one game closer to tying the overall series record.

Auburn’s Worst Loss(es)

Oh me, oh my. I’d rather not go there. Sigh. Ok.

Well, I don’t know how you can separate the ’84 and ’85 games. Both were last-second, gut-wrenching losses for my Tigers.

’84: Auburn was 8-3, with their only conference loss coming to Florida. The Gators were SEC Champions on the field that year, but they were on probation. If Auburn had won the game it would play in its second consecutive Sugar Bowl. Alabama was 4-6 and about to suffer their first losing season since before Paul Bryant began coaching the Tide.

Auburn came out flat that day for some odd reason. It scored first, but Alabama, the designated home team at “neutral” Legion Field, rallied and led 17-7 as the fourth quarter began to wind down. Then the Tigers’ Brent Fullwood streaked for a 60-yard TD and the two-point conversion was successful, 17-15. Later in the quarter, on fourth down, Auburn found itself at the Alabama one-yard line. I jumped up and began screaming at the TV, “Kick the field goal. Kick the damn field goal. Let’s get outta here.” Dye opted to go for it and Fullwood was stuffed for a three-yard loss when Bo Jackson thought he was going to get the ball, went the wrong way, and did not block for his teammate.

Auburn did have an opportunity to kick a last second field goal which missed badly. Game over. Nightmare.

’85: Nightmare Deux, in spite of Bo Jackson making a final, emphatic case for the Heisman Trophy. He put forth a brilliantly gallant effort, and he was playing with two broken ribs. The game went back and forth like a heavyweight prize fight. Auburn went up 23-22 very late in the game. The prospects of a win looked quite promising, especially when Alabama found itself at its own 12 yard-line with 37 seconds remaining and no timeouts on the board. A couple of plays later Mike Shula got off a pass to Greg Richardson coming across the middle, and he managed to somehow get out-of-bounds with six seconds left on the clock.

Van Tiffin then nailed a 52-yard field goal and that was that. 25-23, Alabama.

Alrighty then! That was a nice exercise in masochism.

Let’s go right to the do-overs. In ’85, either Richardson does not get out-of-bounds or Tiffin misses the field goal, and Auburn wins, 23-22, for the second time in four years. Back to ’84, Auburn kicks the 18-yard chip shot and wins, 18-17. The Tigers now, with my ’81, ’84, and ’85 do-overs, win nine-in-a-row. This trumps what would now be an eight-game winning streak for Alabama, ’73- ’80, in the series. Auburn goes 18-8 over these next 26 games, through 2006, and Nick Saban is not hired in 2007 as he wants no part of the turmoil in Tuscaloosa.

The implications? Auburn continues as the dominant team in the state, Alabama doesn’t win four more Natties, and all is well on the Plains.

Revisionist history. Pretty sweet, right?

Ramblin’ 10/11/16

Welcome back to Ramblin’!

It really feels like fall now. 71 degrees with a high of 75 on the way, and a low tonight of 47. Leaves are beginning to cover the side, fenced-in, yard. And Auburn is ranked. All is well!

I began reading Steve Spurrier’s autobiography, Head Ball Coach-My Life in Football, yesterday. A few chapters in and it is vintage Spurrier. Good stuff.

The book I completed last week, prior to starting on Spurrier’s, was one by crime-mystery novelist James Lee Burke. The Tin Roof Blowdown. It’s from his Dave Robicheaux series. Excellent writing. Brilliant prose. Intricate, compelling plot lines. Superb characters.

The Tin Roof Blowdown takes place in the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans, New Iberia, Lafayette, and environs.

Highly recommended.

On the old Apple Music turntable, Lester Young and Billie Holiday. The album is entitled ‘A Musical Romance.’ Also brilliant.

Backing up to bring Auburn into the conversation again. They have an open date this Saturday. That will leave our focus on the SEC at Knoxville and Oxford. Alabama-Tennessee and Ole Miss-Arkansas.

Me and Paul will be having near and dear Bama friends over for for the occasion. I look forward to a great day and night of football, food, and music. An adult beverage or two might be consumed as well.

Birthdays today include Eleanor Roosevelt, Daryl Hall, Luke Perry, Elmore Leonard (speaking of great crime-mystery writers), and rapper U-God of Wu Tang Clan.

Yes, I have been to a Wu Tang Clan concert. They opened for Rage Against The Machine. How did I find myself at this event you might ask. It was 1997 and I took my son, Luke, to what was then Lakewood Amphitheater. It was an experience to be sure. People running around bumping into one another, et cetera. Old Dirty Bastard and all.

RIP ODB.

I was just scanning my Apple Music recommendations for today and under ‘Albums’ spotted one by UB 40.

UB 40 covered my favorite Neil Diamond song which is Red, Red Wine. UB 40’s cut was, of course, done in reggae style.

Another aside involving Luke. I was driving him to school at Lee-Scott Academy in Auburn back in 1989. I was then the retail store manager for Tiger Rags (shout out to Don, Charlie, and Jerry!). We were listening to a Columbus pop/rock station and they played the UB 40 cover of Red, Red Wine. The DJ followed the song with non-sensical lyrics of his own. “Red, red wine I can see your fanny. Red, red wine you got a hole in you panty.”

It’s all about those moments. Ain’t it?

Speaking of moments, I had one that knocked me for a loop back on September 15th. I had a bout of Transient Global Amnesia or, duh, TGA. Click the link and check it out.

It was scary. And I can’t imagine how awful it was for Melodye. I didn’t know what day it was or who the president was. I didn’t remember Auburn was playing Texas A&M in two days.

Mel had me on the phone and I asked her, “Paul, what is all this A&M stuff doing on the table? Are we playing football?” (I keep programs, cups, and paraphernalia from the coming Saturday’s opponent on the kitchen table the week of that game.)

She knew, then, we were in big trouble. It seemed so but all’s well that ends well. TGA is, essentially, harmless. ‘Twas NO fun though.

And thanks again for your thoughts and prayers. Your calls, texts, and well wishes.

Back in the saddle with ‘Ramblins’ again! It’s been far too long.

Ok! Apple Music now twangin’ out a ‘My Favorites Mix’ that they rustled up for me. All country. The last two songs were Hag’s ‘Somewhere Between’ and Conway’s ‘To See My Angel Cry’.

Now? Kristofferson’s ‘Why Me Lord’. That’s a great “hymn.”

Wow! How poignant!

“Why me Lord, what have I ever done
To deserve even one
Of the pleasures I’ve known
Tell me Lord, what did I ever do
That was worth loving you
Or the kindness you’ve shown.
Lord help me Jesus, I’ve wasted it so
Help me Jesus I know what I am
Now that I know that I’ve need you so
Help me Jesus, my soul’s in your hand.
Tell me Lord, if you think there’s a way
I can try to repay
All I’ve taken from you
Maybe Lord, I can show someone else
What I’ve been through myself
On my way back to you.
Lord help me Jesus, I’ve wasted it so
Help me Jesus I know what I am
Now that I know that I’ve need you so
Help me Jesus, my soul’s in your hand.”
Amen.
(Photo me & Paul with our Bama friends, Terry and Lyndie Sims)

Ramblin’ 8/16/16

Last week I mentioned the Woodstock Festival as High Holy Days, celebrated here at 116 Sundown Way, and now those days are upon us. We are in Day Two of the festivities, the day it began to rain. And it’s thundering, and about to rain. Right here. Right now. Seems fitting somehow.

Musically, at Woodstock, yesterday was Richie Havens, Arlo Guthrie, and Joan Baez, among others. Today features Country Joe McDonald (“Gimme an F!”), Santana, Canned Heat, Mountain, The Grateful Dead, and CCR .

Here are some festival facts I thought you might enjoy:

  • 1 Diabetic coma
  • 2 Festival births
  • 3 Tracheotomies performed
  • 6 Months preparation time before the festival
  • 15 Price for an ounce of marijuana (in dollars)
  • 18 Price of admission for three days (in dollars)
  • 18 Number of doctors who treated 6,000 patients
  • 20 Amount of bail bond for those held in possession of LSD (in THOUSANDS of dollars) DAY-UM!!!
  • 40 Shortest waiting time between acts (in minutes)
  • 80 Width of the stage (in feet)
  • 90 Percentage of festival attendees smoking marijuana
  • 346 Number of New York City off-duty policemen hired, joined by 100 local sheriffs, several hundred State Troopers and deputies from 12 counties
  • 346 Number of cops who walked off their jobs on the first day of the festival
  • 450 cows unfenced for three days with the campers (Mooooooo)
  • 2,500 1989 price of posters used to advertise the original event (in dollars)
  • 8,000 Price paid in 1989 for an uncollected festival ticket
  • 30,000 Number of sandwiches prepared by the Women’s Group of the Jewish Community Center of Monticello and distributed by the Sisters of the Convent of St. Thomas
  • 186,000 tickets sold
  • 250,000 Number of people who never made it to the site
  • 500,000 Frankfurters and hamburgers consumed on the first day

There’s more but you get the gist of it.

Impact of the festival… immeasurable.

I just returned home from running a couple of errands. Picked up a James Lee Burke novel. I don’t read a lot of fiction, but I stumbled upon his work a couple of years ago and I really loved it. Louisiana guy. This one, as were the other two I read, are from a series centered around a detective named Dave Robicheaux. Very intense stuff and written with equal parts beauty and horror.

The one I got today, with store credit, is entitled ‘The Tin Roof Blowdown’. It’s set in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina. Can’t wait to jump right in! The previous two I read were ‘Neon Rain’ and ‘Heaven’s Prisoners’.

I haven’t been to NOLA since the 2005 Sugar Bowl. It’s been far too long.

My bride and I have attended all of the Sugar Bowls our Auburn Tigers have participated in except the one following the 1971 season, when Pat Sullivan and Terry Beasley were seniors. Oklahoma, under head coach Chuck Fairbanks, whipped us like a red-headed stepchild. Glad I missed that one.

It would be great if Auburn made that New Year’s Six game this year, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you. On the other hand, don’t count us out. You never know.

Truck Drivin’ Classics playing on Apple Music as we ramble along. Six Days On the Road, Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses, East Bound and Down, and Guitar Town, to name a few of ’em.

My favorite truck drivin’ song is ‘Willin’, by Little Feat. Linda Ronstadt did a great cover of that one.

A quick ‘Willin’ story. I was at a Pak Mail store, about eleven years ago, near our house with some files to ship to a colleague of mine, Alice Vargas. I began to quietly sing a line from the words to ‘Willin’, “Dallas, Dallas Alice…” The lovely and spirited brunette, Carmen Park, who was preparing my package blurted out, “A Little Feat song!” And we connected. From that day to this, we have been fast friends. Even though she moved to Los Angeles, we remain in touch. We’ve tried to figure out past lives we might have shared and the forces of  God and nature that brought us together. One of our best theories is a life as French peasants.

The last time I saw her was when Auburn played Florida State in the BCS National Championship Game. Melodye, Me and Paul, spent an entire afternoon and evening with Carmen as our tour guide to LA. When we went out to the Rose Bowl, she exclaimed, “Y’all are family!”, after a few exchanges of ‘War Eagle!” with Tiger fans. We ate Thai food. We also drove by the Whiskey A Go Go, the Rainbow Room, the Chateau Marmont, and detoured into Laurel Canyon. A great day! I miss you, c!

Friends like this are rare, people. I hope every one of you has at least one, and that you treasure them dearly.

“I been warped by the rain
Driven by the snow
I’m drunk and dirty, don’t ya know
And I’m still, willin’
Out on the road late at night
Seen my pretty Alice in every headlight
Alice, Dallas Alice

I’ve been from Tucson to Tucumcari
Tehachapi to Tonapah
Driven every kind of rig that’s ever been made
Driven the back roads so I wouldn’t get weighed
And if you give me weed, whites, and wine
And you show me a sign
I’ll be willin’ to be movin’…”

This old, retired road warrior will see y’all again soon.

Grace and peace. (Patti Smith sings us out)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ramblin’ 8/9/16

Coming straight to you from a brand new iMac with the 4K retina and all. First blog typed on this one. Wow! Should have upgraded before now! Oh, the speed!

Speed. That’s what Kam Martin, true freshman running back who transferred from Baylor to Auburn, has…in spades. He was the #1 running back coming out of the great state of Texas. He WILL see time on the field of play this fall. Hey! First scrimmage today! Probably still in progress.

Carolina Chocolate Drops playing on Apple Music. Amazing music! Check ’em out!

Love this new keyboard and wireless mouse, as well.

Anyone remember Mighty Mouse? “Here I come to save the day! Mighty Mouse is on his way!” I loved Andy Kaufman’s use of that song in one of his bits. He just played the vinyl of and pantomimed the lyrics. Mercy, he was funny. Brilliant! I mis him. RIP, Andy.

Miss Andy Griffith also.

And Don Knotts. Speaking of brilliant. No time or space to touch on of all the great Barney Fife moments here.  A quick one. Barney had Gomer with him on a stakeout. Remember their signal?  “Hooty Hoo. Hooty hoo.” I still use that one a lot. And, “Here at The Rock.”

Steve Spurrier’s autobiography comes out at the end of this month, the 30th, I believe. A must read. As is Bruce Springsteen’s, for me. It releases on September 27th. Just discovered the beauty of The Boss a few months back. All in.

Ray Wylie Hubbard now up on Apple Music. His album, A: Enlightenment B: Endarkenment (Hint There Is No C). Just great, as is all his work. One of my favorites on this record is Drunken Poet’s Dream.  It’s coming on! “I got a woman who’s wild as Rome. She likes being naked and gazed upon. She crosses a bridge and sets it on fire. She lands like a bird on a telephone wire. I’m gonna holler. I’m gonna scream. I’m gonna get us some mescaline, then I’m gonna rhyme that with gasoline. A drunken poet’s dream…”

I get it. Been there.

Here comes a SEGWAAAAAYYYY… Since hallucinogens are on the table, the 47th anniversary of Woodstock begins Monday. It’s observed at 116 Sundown Way. High Holy days. From the opening with Canned Heat’s ‘Going Up The Country’, to the nuns flashing peace signs, to  Richie Havens’ improvised opening set, to Hendrix on Monday morning. A thing of beauty. They pulled it off under the most adverse of circumstances. Three Days of Peace and Music. It can be done. A snapshot into a true moment of grace. Like the Dead sings, “Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.”Amen.

Here’s a blog I did on the epiphany I had when I saw the Woodstock movie for the first time as a freshman at Auburn in September of 1970. War Eagle to that!

The Braves are playing well. Took two out of three in St. Louis, of all places. Beat the Brewers, 4-3, in 12 innings last night. They’ve been hitting, including taters, over the last couple of weeks. They’ll get there in a couple of years. A plethora, remember that word from last week?, of young talent in their system.

Guess what just popped up on my phone? ‘Inside The AU Tigers – Scrimmage News & Notes.’ How about a teaser? “Sean White threw a touchdown pass to Marcus Davis. Jeremy Johnson hit Ryan Davis on a long pass play to near the goal line and then scored on a keeper. Franklin threw a short pass to Jason Smith who took it the distance for a touchdown…”

Football! Received a note pad from the University of Iowa with a picture of one of their all star candidates on the front, Desmond King. He’s s defensive back  and a candidate for the Bronco Nagurski, Jim Thorpe and Walter Camp awards, among others. As a member of the FWAA (Football Writers Association of America) I get to vote on those things as well as their All-America team, College Football Hall of Fame. It’s fun and something I dreamed of as a kid. I always wanted to be a sportswriter or a sportscaster. DJ too. That’s two out of three. Now, let’s find me an event to call the play-by-play on.

Grace and peace (and music).

 

Auburn Road Trips, Part Two- Baton Rouge

I promised back in March to deliver another road trip adventure. Here she is, folks! We go back to the 1997 season when the Auburn Tigers journeyed deep into Bayou Country for a very important conference game with the LSU Tigers. Auburn stood at 2-0 with victories over Virginia, in Charlottesville, and Ole Miss, at home. The Bayou Bengals were also 2-0. Their wins came in Tiger Stadium versus UTEP and in Starkville against Mississippi State. Both teams were ranked. Auburn was No. 12 and LSU No. 10.

My son, Luke, and I hit the trail on Friday, September 19 for the Saturday game down in Louisiana. The trip would take us from Atlanta, down I-85, eventually hitting I-65 in Montgomery, AL and on to Pascagoula, MS for the the evening. We stayed at the Fairfield Inn by Marriott there on the Gulf Coast, but not before stuffing ourselves on a buffet at a nearby casino and losing a couple of rolls of quarters. We were hoping that was not a portent of things to come. After watching some Mr. Show, with Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, we hit the hay.

A bright, hot and humid Saturday morning greeted us for the remainder of the drive to the Red Stick. Our entire family had made the trek in 1988 only to see our Tigers’ national championship hopes derailed, 7-6, in what is now infamously known as the “Earthquake Game.” Luke and I also attended the 1995 game at Tiger Stadium. LSU, 12-6.

We were hungry for a road win over the other Tigers, to say the least.

We checked into the Courtyard by Marriott, rewards points are nice, and went to get some lunch at a famous place, now closed, that served up some mighty fine po’ boys. We were the only patrons representing the visiting team in that eatery, and we did not get hassled either. We were ahead of the game!

Then it was time to circle back by the hotel and check on the Bama-Arkansas game which the Hawgs won, 17-16. That was an excellent choice of scores. For the uninformed, Auburn stunned no.2 Alabama by the same score in the epic “Punt, Bama, Punt” game in 1972.

Now it’s off to the lovely campus of Louisiana State University for a night game. Shudder!

We found a good tailgating spot which was not terribly far from Tiger Stadium. We were plenty early to take time and roam around the venerable, but highly inhospitable, ole gal. On the way there, and back to our vehicle, various insults about our team and our garb, were hurled at us. Welcome to Baton Rouge.

In all fairness, we did receive some welcoming words from a group or two. Tailgating in the SEC is one of life’s great pleasures and they do it very well at LSU. The boiling pots of crawfish, jambalaya and other Cajun creations is a sight to behold and smell. Yaaaaay Heeee!

Before long, though, we had to scurry back to the ’93 blue Saturn sedan for a couple of rounds of courage and the walk to the game. This is a time when your anticipation, and anxiety, is completely off the charts and your heart is beating like a rabbit’s. The excitement is at a fever pitch!

Now, let me emphatically say this. There is nothing like a night game in Baton Rouge at Tiger Stadium. Nothing! If you are a college football fan, and have a bucket list, put this at, or near, the top of it. Now! Get your pen, or pencil, and paper. Write it down. Now!

Luke and I squeezed through the crushing crowd at our gate which lead us through a portal and into a lower seating section of the south end zone.

Buckle your seat belts! Here we go!

The visiting Tigers came out on fire. They scored first on a 26 yard-pass from Dameyune Craig to fullback Fred Beasley. Craig, oddly enough, recently departed his position as wide receivers coach at Auburn to take an assistant coach position at LSU. Hicks Poor hauled in a 25-yard TD pass from Craig to go up 14-0 with 7:28 still remaining in the opening stanza. Wow!

LSU struck back on three-yard run by Cecil “The Diesel” Collins to cut the margin to seven. Collins ran over, around, and through the Auburn defense that night for 232 yards on 27 carries. Day-um!

At halftime the score was locked at 21. It appeared that Auburn could not stop Collins and that could, very well, spell their demise in the last quarter as he would continue to pound that defense.

At halftime we happened upon some old friends of mine from down in Lower Alabama and my hometown of Camden. We so enjoyed meeting again but soon it was time to get the second half underway and break the deadlock.

The only score in the third quarter was a 34-yard field goal by Auburn’s Jaret Holmes. The score stood 24-21, Auburn, as quarter four got underway.

Cecil Collins continued his land assault on Auburn’s D and Dameyune Craig did likewise, through the air, to LSU. Collins broke off on a 42-yard scamper, early in the final quarter, to give the hometown Tigers a 28-24 lead.

Both defenses held their ground and neither allowed a score for 12 or 13 minutes. The drama was as thick as the humidity enveloping Tiger Stadium. LSU was forced to punt with about three minutes left in the game. Auburn took the ball deep in its own territory. Luke buried his head in his hands and said he couldn’t watch as the East Alabama Felines would get one more crack at the, now formidable, LSU defense.

Ten Auburn players stood ready for huddle as Craig got his last second instructions from head coach Terry Bowden. Craig then began a gallop to his awaiting band of brothers. I told Luke that our Tigers were going to win and asked that he look up as I pointed to Craig and boldly stated, “And there is the reason why.”

The noise in Death Valley rose to a crescendo and was, literally, deafening. You could not even carry on a conversation amongst the roar in that bowl. Auburn began a march toward us and the south end zone. One first down, then another, and another as the clock ticked, ticked, ticked away and Auburn made its way deep into LSU territory.

There were now 46 seconds on the Tiger Stadium clock and Auburn found itself at the LSU one-yard line.

Timeout.

As Craig, again, jogs onto the field, the 80,538 fans assembled in this hallowed venue create an ear-shattering twelfth man. One inhales and the smell of bourbon opens the nasal passages.

Auburn comes to the line of scrimmage. Craig makes every effort to communicate with his troops as he barks up and down the line-of-scrimmage. It seems as though we can reach out and touch the 22 Tigers there before us. Craig takes the snap. The visitors offensive front, pads low, makes a huge surge forward. A hole, that I could run through, opens on the right side of Auburn’s line, and tailback Rusty Williams rumbles through it and falls into the purple and gold of LSU’s end zone with 30 ticks remaining on the clock.

There is a moment of stunned silence as the LSU Tiger faithful sit in disbelief.

The Auburn band plays “War Eagle” over and over.

Shortly, the game itself is over.

Auburn 31, LSU 28.

The two teams of Tigers, ultimately, tie for the SEC West title and Auburn goes on to play the Peyton Manning-led Tennessee Volunteers for the SEC Championship.

Football on Saturday night. Church on Sunday morning.

Life in the Deep South.

Y’all come!

E-mail Bird at bird [dot] lecroy [at] campuspressbox [dot] com or follow him on Twitter @Autull.

SEC Football: Yesterday and Today

Last week I introduced myself to you as your SEC blogger for Campus Pressbox. I know that was exciting. Try to contain yourself. We’re only in week two and I don’t want you to peak even before all of the spring football games have been played. I’m not going to rehash any of those drama-filled debacles for you in this space, that is unless you need a good sleep aid. Just turn on the SEC Network, record one of those barn burners and play it near your bedtime. The sandman will be pounding you into submission before the first quarter has come to completion. A good night’s rest is very important.

We now move on to a short history lesson. Where else can one get all of this, and more, in a thousand words or less? Exactly!

Follow me deep into the bowels of the Library of… Ok, nooooo, just into that bastion of academia, Wikipedia.

“The SEC was established on December 8 and 9, 1932, when the thirteen members of the Southern Conference located west and south of the Appalachian Mountains left to form their own conference. Ten of the thirteen founding members have remained in the conference since its inception: the University of Alabama, Auburn University, the University of Florida, the University of Georgia, the University of Kentucky, Louisiana State University (“LSU”), the University of Mississippi (“Ole Miss”), Mississippi State University, the University of Tennessee, and Vanderbilt University.

The other charter members were:

The University of the South (“Sewanee”) left the SEC on December 13, 1940, and later de-emphasized varsity sports. It is currently a member of the Division III Southern Athletic Association.
Georgia Institute of Technology (“Georgia Tech”) left the SEC in 1964. In 1975, it became a founding member of the Metro Conference, one of the predecessors to today’s Conference USA. Georgia Tech competed in the Metro Conference in all sports except football, in which it was independent (the Metro did not sponsor football). In 1978, Georgia Tech joined another Southern Conference offshoot, the Atlantic Coast Conference, for all sports, where it has remained ever since.

Tulane University left the SEC in 1966. Along with Georgia Tech, it was a charter member of the Metro Conference. Unlike Tech, however, Tulane remained in the Metro Conference until it merged with the Great Midwest Conference in 1995 to form Conference USA. Tulane remained an independent in football until C-USA began football competition in 1996. Tulane left C-USA in 2014 for the American Athletic Conference.”

“Sewanee! How I love you! How I love you! My dear old Sewanee!!!” I do Al Jolson too! And hey, folks, it’s free!

Did I hear a cackle? Harrumph! “I didn’t get a harrumph out of you!” $1 to Blazing Saddles.

In 1899 Sewanee recorded a sterling record of 12-0. Not only that, but they outscored their opponents 322-10! The lone team to score on them was Auburn, War Damn Eagle!, with John Heisman at the helm.

The “Iron Men”, as Sewanee was affectionately known back then, dominated Southern Conference football.

There’s more! The “Iron Men” won five road games in six days that season!!!

Now, speaking of former SEC teams, how many of you knew that Georgia Tech and Tulane used to play in the SEC? And how well have these teams done since their departure? MmmmHmmm.

How many of you know that Missouri is in the SEC? Don’t snicker! When was the last time Georgia won the Easy and played in two consecutive SEC Championship Games?

I do soooo love having a third team of Tigers in the conference, but I also seem to often come up with thirteen when counting up the total number of SEC squads; or I come up short of seven teams when counting the Easy. (Dang! I keep hitting the “y” key instead of the “t” key when referring to the “other” division in the SEC.)

I thought I heard groans from fans of the teams in said Easy. Alrighty then! When was the last time a non-West division team won an SEC Championship Game? I can hear Jim Morrison even now, “The west is the best.” Name that song!

OK! OK!, in the spirit of fairness, when was the last time Ole Miss won the West?

When was the last time Mississippi State won the SEC?

When was the last time Arkansas won the SEC?

(Now don’t forget! We’re talking football here. God bless the non-revenue sports. I’ll say ten ‘Hail Marys’ and ten ‘Our Fathers’. Wink wink. I’m not Catholic, but I did date one once.)

Aggies, you get a mulligan.

Vanderbilt and Kentucky, your baseball and basketball teams get you a mulligan. You may pass ‘Go’ and collect your bowl money, and it’s a helluva lot more than $200.

Well, that’s all we have time for, today, boys and girls! Say your prayers and eat your vegetables. And whatever you do, join us here, again, next week. Same Bat Time! Same Bat Channel!

Adios!

E-mail Bird at bird [dot] lecroy [at] campuspressbox [dot] com or follow him on Twitter @Autull.