Auburn better be ready

0
513

I seldom write about sports.
There are sports reporters and columnists who can and do comment on teams and coaches and individual  players and all that.  They are so much better at it than I will ever be.
The only sport I really know much about is football.
I played it in high school and thought I was pretty good.
I played one year of junior college and found out that I wasn’t. So I became a spectator.
I can spectate with the best of them – I know it’s not a real word but you get the point. I hope.
This weekend I am going to spectate when Jacksonville State University travels to Auburn to play the Tigers.
I have long awaited a game such as this, a game in which one of the major state schools – UA or AU – plays one of the smaller state schools – like JSU.
Some years ago I commented in this column that it was a shame that our powerhouse SEC schools would pay good money to a smaller school from way out somewhere to come in and get their collective rumps whupped when there were any number of fine state schools that would be happy to take the money and the licking.
Why, I asked, did schools like JSU have to travel all the way to Michigan for a paid-for thrashing when they could get one close to home?
At the time I had heard that one state legislature had resolved to do something nasty to any university that paid good money to play an out-of-state pansy when an in-state pansy was available. I was never able to confirm that rumor, but it sounded like a good idea to me.
Meanwhile, around here it is the same old, same old.
This year the University of Alabama is playing Louisiana-Monroe, Middle Tennessee and Charleston Southern when they might have scheduled Troy or Alabama State.  Well, at least they picked teams from the South.  The regional economy can always use a boost.
Auburn, to its credit, broke the pattern. A little bit.
In addition to the San Jose State Spartans and the Idaho Vandals, Auburn University is taking on you-know-who.
Yep, our Gamecocks.
Now I understand the reluctance of schools like Auburn and Alabama to play their smaller neighbors.  Alabama would have nothing to gain and a lot to lose ifw they scheduled UAB and got whipped. In addition to a blow to the Tide’s vaunted reputation, not to mention its pride, there might be repercussions on the recruiting trail.
Winning, on the other hand, would be like wetting your pants when you  were wearing a dark blue suit.  It gives you a warm feeling, but nobody notices.
Once upon a time I saw what can happen when a big school invites a little school in for a lesson in football and gets taught a lesson itself.
Back in 2010, Ole Miss scheduled JSU and though the Rebels (as they were called then) were not a SEC contender that year, they were expected to handle the Gamecocks with little trouble.
Friends with Ole Miss connections invited us over to tailgate in “The Grove” before the game.
Although we were decked out in JSU colors, the Ole Miss folks welcomed us like wayward children, in town for what was due us.  We ate their food, drank their adult beverages, then followed them to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. It was a festive occasion.
The crowd was loud and lively, traditional cheers were cheered, and while the small JSU contingent made as much noise as it could, it was an Ole Miss evening. The Rebels scored first. And second.
And third and fourth and a field goal for good measure.
By halftime, with the score 31-10, the Ole Miss faithful began planning the post game party. Some even left for The Grove to get started. Then JSU held them scoreless in the third quarter. Then JSU scored 21 points in the fourth and when the game ended it was tied.
Into overtime it went and you know what happened. Final score, JSU 49, Ole Miss 48.
It was quiet in The Grove when we made our way back. Our friends were packing up.  A few folks mumbled “Good Game,” but most just looked away.
We could have rubbed it in, but we didn’t. We went back to our motel. The next day we said our good-bys and eased out of town. As regular readers know, I grew up an Auburn fan. I also spent 25 years on the faculty at JSU.
I am not saying who I hope will win, who I expect to win, but I am anticipating a very good game.
This year the team JSU takes to Auburn is ranked and ready.
Like JSU, Auburn is also ranked. They better be ready.
Harvey H. {“Hardy”) Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University. He can be reached at hjackson@cableone.net.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here