Thursday, November 22, 2012
Happy Thanksgiving to you all. I, for one, am grateful for an innumerable amount and this day of thanks comes at just the right time for me to offer a healthy dose of perspective. It's easy to see God's providence and work in my life and I'm thankful for each and every day He bestows. By the worlds standard, if you're reading this post on your laptop or smartphone you're wealthier than 99% of mankind. We live in the greatest country ever created, under the blanket of freedom, the protection of the world's greatest military, still the economic engine of the universe...yes, even with Barack Obama in charge. I'm grateful for my God, for sending His Son to die a brutal death to atone for my sins allowing me to have a personal, eternal relationship with the King of Kings. I'm thankful for my wife, my kids, my upbringing, my job, and all the blessings I've been granted. The reality we can spend as much time as we do discussing, dissecting, supporting, worrying over athletics and our beloved institution is a testament to just how well we really have it.
One thing I'm also immensely thankful for, and this time of year seems to always bring home this point, is my decision to become an Auburn Tiger! Auburn is a place we all love and cherish, a place we call home. It's a place we seek to protect, support, see triumph and prevail over all obstacles that come her way. It's more than Auburn just being important to us...rather Auburn lives in us...we're all bound and connected by a spirit others will never fully recognize nor appreciate. That spirit is what makes us family...a connection often mocked by some, attempted to be duplicated by others. You can't manufacture it, you can't sell it, can't reproduce it, can't claim it...you must be an Auburn man or woman to grasp what I speak of. If you're not...you're shaking your head in dismay as you read this. But those that are--are shaking their heads in the affirmative, in total agreement and understanding.
This season has been a total disaster. I have been disheartened by our teams lack of competitiveness, its lack of leadership, lack of development, lack of toughness, lack of answers, and lack of success. I have called out our staff for not displaying the ability to adequately prepare this football team for the rigors of Southeastern Conference play. I have called out the players for passionless play, questionable effort, for the appearance of ambivalence. I've grown weary of writing this year the same negative sentiments week in and week out. It's truly felt like Groundhog Day.
I have taken my fair share of heat for not spinning the product I see in endearing terms. How could I and be taken seriously? Frankly, it's a product that has become completely indefensible and because of that, I've called for change. No one former players opinion isn't nor should it be a catalyst for change. But you know what is...a roster of current players whose performance has been so disappointing they have effectively sealed the fate of their head coach.
Auburn won't beat Alabama in the 77th playing of the most intense rivalry in all of college football. The daylight between these two programs has widened considerably in a shockingly small amount of time. Alabama will field a team loaded with top-end talent, but most importantly, a team that is physically and mentally tough. They're not invincible, they're not even a great team...but they play with great passion and desire, they play for four quarters, they wear you down physically with sound technique and schemes. Auburn on the other-hand will field a young team searching for answers with none in sight. We enter games with the outcome all but certain, hoping for the best but expecting the worst. We're mentally weak, play with fleeting passion, and proper technique is tossed in favor of either bad habits or bad coaching. It hasn't improved over this season...it's only gotten worse.
I fear with an Alabama team having much to play for in a stadium full of blood-lusting fans sensing a fractured opponent in our Tigers, this game has set up to be one of the ugliest outcomes I can ever recall. To prove me wrong, this Auburn team has to use the adversity they've endured to its advantage. They must play like a wounded dog, backed against the wall, fighting for survival. They have nothing to lose...Alabama has everything to lose. They must jump out early and show not only Alabama but themselves they came to battle...they came to compete for the duration. The mentality must be, "You may win the war, but you'll have to kill me first." And you know what, Alabama may do just that. But show me the effort, show me you care, show me you respect the jersey you wear, show me you'll fight from opening to closing whistle. I'll stand and applaud that effort. I'll praise you even in loss. Show me though how much it means to you to represent Auburn University in a game you've been utterly blessed to become a participant. This game won't change your season, but this game would ruin theirs. Play the spoiler, play the bad guy. Play because you enjoy the game. Play because God's blessed you with a talent to do so. Play the game for those of us that can't and know that regardless of the outcome, you'll have the full support of the Auburn faithful if you played the game the way it's supposed to be played. Play with passion! And beat Alabama.