Auburn vs. Alabama: Iron Bowl Loses Luster with Poor Tigers Team

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 25, 2012

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 24:  AJ McCarron #10 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after a touchdown against the Auburn Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 24, 2012 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Auburn-Alabama rivalry looks like it will be far weaker than "Iron" in the near future.

When it comes to blood feuds in sports, it's never any fun when one team dominates. That's the point the Iron Bowl is at, especially after the Crimson Tide's 49-0 demolition of the Tigers.

Auburn is a team that's in absolute shambles at the moment. Their head coach, Gene Chizik, is likely only weeks away from getting the axe.

Under his stewardship, the Tigers finished 3-9 on the season and looked like the toxic combination of apathetic and inept. You would have never guessed that two years ago Auburn rode Cam Newton and a great defense to the national title.

Last year they had a much depleted side from the previous year and it showed. Seven-5 was a respectable record but the regular season ended on a sour note. The Tigers lost the Iron Bowl, 42-14, to the eventual national champion Crimson Tide.

As if the on-field performance isn't bad enough, Auburn could likely be looking at heavy NCAA sanctions as the result of recruiting running back Jovon Robinson after his high school transcripts were forged.

It all spells a fallow period for the Tigers.

One bad season might affect recruiting or booster money in the short term. However, winning could cure all of these woes.

Administrative discipline could linger much more in the long term. If the NCAA does come down hard on Auburn, they could cut scholarships or level a postseason ban.

The school doesn't have the luxury of being able to rely on solid talent like USC did to get them through its recent dark years, and Auburn doesn't play in the Big Ten, like Ohio State and Penn State, where the competition is much more wide open.

Tide fans are probably enjoying this time their school is spending on top, but sooner or later, the high will subside.

The best rivalries are the ones that are the most competitive. When one side gains a clear advantage, the games start losing importance. Games like the Iron Bowl are supposed to decide which half of Alabama is better—the crimson and white or the navy blue and burnt orange.

Names are immortalized and the close games are played on repeat for decades.

Some Tide fans will remember junior running back Eddie Lacy running for 141 yards and two touchdowns, but more will recall quarterback Mike Shula driving the team downfield at the death to set up Van Tiffin's game-winning field goal.

As much as Alabama fans might not want to admit it, they need to have Auburn be a good team—but just slightly worse than the Tide.


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