There’s an old saying that there is no moral victory in defeat. That may be true. But today, the Auburn Tigers reached a place where they haven’t been in a while. It just so happens, it was at the expense of a loss to their very formidable arch rival, the Crimson Tide of Alabama. Indeed, Nick Saban was out coached today. If he’s an honest man, he’ll admit that. Indeed, the Alabama football team was out performed on the gridiron. Indeed, the statistics imply a different outcome than what resulted on the score board. But there was no victory in the “W” column for the Auburn Tigers. Perhaps the more important thing that happened today at Jordan-Hare Stadium was that the team from The Plains, their coaches, and indeed, their fans, reached a level of performance that was awe-inspiring – even to the team that outscored them. In his post-game analysis, Nick Saban said he couldn’t understand why his Crimson Tide players weren’t up more for the task at hand today. In the end, the only thing that beat the Auburn Tigers was depth in talent and a very healthy football squad on the other side of the field. The Tigers achieved most of the goals they identified that they would have to accomplish in order to end the game with a victory. As ironic as it turned out, those goals were met, but the score didn’t show it. It took the Crimson Tide the entire game - right down to the last 1.5 minutes ticking off the clock to reach beyond what the Tigers had brought to the table. In the end, the Eagle didn’t turn to turkey – it soared high. Many have said since the end of the game, that today was a repeat of something that happened the first time Coach Pat Dye went up to play the Crimson Tide, under the tutelage of legendary Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. Dye had been an assistant to “the Bear” early in his career. And he knew Coach Bryant wasn’t known for liking his own coaching staff. When Coach Pat Dye first met Coach Bryant on the field, Coach Bryant uttered words to the effect of, “That’s not a bad little football team you brought up here.” In typical inspirational style, Coach Pat Dye looked him straight in the eye and said, “Coach, I don’t know what you’re talking about. We came up here to smash you in the mouth.” The message was clear then – the message is clear now. But perhaps the most inspiring thing that took place at Jordan-Hare today may not have even occurred in the game itself – rather it may have been what happened after the game. The fans – the Auburn Faithful – didn’t want to leave the stadium. They knew that had the game been able to go on and on and on, that their beloved Tigers would continue jacking up the stakes that would make the team from Tuscaloosa have to reach deeper and deeper into the caldrons of their wealth of talent in order to keep up. And it would be questionable at any given time whether the Tide would have more points on the board than did the Tigers. But as we all know, the game has to end at some point. And it did. And now the Alabama Crimson Tide will fulfill their pre-stated destiny to go and play the University of Florida on December 5th to determine who really is the best team in the SEC – and perhaps the entire country. Meanwhile, the Auburn Tigers were impressive enough in today’s game that maybe, just maybe, they’ll get another look by the boundless number of “other bowls” and they’ll play a post-season game more worthy of their abilities and talent and desire than what may have been on the table before today. The 2009 Auburn Tiger football team should hold their heads high. War Eagle.
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