On April 25, 2010, I wrote a slide-show called "Tiger Down! Nine Teams That Can/Will Beat the Auburn Tigers in 2010."
And then I posted it on B/R's Auburn page. What happened next was to be expected.
But first let me explain why I did it. It's not that I'm really an expert on Auburn football; I do, however, keep up with their program more than I do any other SEC school.
I guess I first got the idea after reading a couple of articles concerning Alabama written by Auburn fans. Also, the slide-show was more about some of Auburn's opponents than it was Auburn itself.
But in the end that didn't matter.
Another reason I did it, and I'm slightly embarrassed to admit this, was for the accolades. Yep, I pimped myself out for a Platinum Great Debate and a Silver Hot Read. Like I said, I'm not particularly proud of that, but it sure is nice to see something other than that lonely old Bronze Great Debate I had before the slide-show ran (which by the way is now a Silver Great Debate, possibly because of the traffic my profile received due to the Auburn story).
What followed came as no surprise. I thought the body of the work was pretty solid. I researched nine of Auburn's toughest opponents and tried to explain why any one of them had a chance of beating Auburn. I even expressed my opinion on what Auburn had to do to win some of those games.
They were unappreciated.
My first debate with an Auburn poster was about my prediction that Auburn would finish the season 3-9. Of course I never predicted that, nor did I make any predictions of which games Auburn would win or lose. But the majority of the Tiger faithful just couldn't get past that headline (more on that in closing).
As the number of reads climbed, so did the number of comments. Very few received my slide-show favorably, understandably so.
Yesterday I came to understand it, that is.
Sure, there were a few Auburn fans willing to discuss how they saw some of the games unfolding, as well as a few Alabama fans. But the overall consensus was the Auburn fans did not care for an Alabama fan writing anything about their football.
Okay, I get the message.
But something interesting happened, something so subtle that it even got past the ever-watchful eyes of the Auburn family: Not a single fan commented about what I believe was really the root cause for the disdain I received.
Shoot, it even got by me, and I'm the author.
But after reading my slide-show a couple of dozen times, it soon became clear to me why nobody could get past the title and appreciate the work I put in.
It all starts with the opening photo.
I'm looking at it right now, and I cannot believe I even picked that photo. It's a picture of an Auburn doormat. I guess I may have picked that photo because a few days ago a semi-retired friend of mine who supplements his income at the flea-market brought me one quite similar, only it said "Roll Tide" and has a likeness of Big Al. It's sitting outside my back door even as you read this.
That made me take a closer look at the other photos that accompanied my slide-show. In every single photo there was a player from the featured team making a play against Auburn. Whether on offense or defense, there it was; an Auburn player getting tackled for a loss, or an Arkansas player breaking one for a huge gain, or an Alabama receiver scoring a touchdown on an Auburn safety.
I find it amazing that not one single comment (221 to date) mentioned anything about that.
Oh, the power of subliminal messages!
And this brings me to why I'll never write anything about Auburn again. You see, I also found out something quite amazing about myself: It is probably impossible for me to be unbiased when it comes to Alabama's rivals.
Not once did I conscientiously say to myself, "Here's a picture of an Auburn running back getting creamed," or "Here's one of an Auburn corner back getting beat." They all just slipped in unnoticed, by me or anybody else.
Now I freely admit that the title "Tiger Down!" was meant to draw attention to my article. After all, I really wanted some silver on my profile page. But everything else just slipped in, like a ninja, right through the one window left unattended. And like a ninja it stayed, undetected, using its poison to bring its targets down.
So, was it worth it? It was a learning experience, that's for sure. I learned something about rivalry and learned something about myself as well. And I got a couple of sweet looking medals on my profile page too! So yeah, I guess it was worth it. But it's nothing I wish to repeat ever again.
Nope, I'll just stick to writing my little-read and little-commented-on articles about the Amos Alonzo Staggs and the Cade Fosters of the world.
They're not appreciated that much either, but nobody hates me for it.