My school is the University of Alabama. If you have visited College Sports Matchups over the past two years, you probably don’t know that unless you are a personal friend. We work hard to avoid showing our bias.
Chris Rushing was our first writer and has a strong following from fans of SEC football. Most people who read what he writes have no clue that he is an Auburn man.
In the brief time we have known each other, Alabama and Auburn have both produced a national champion in college football and a Heisman Trophy winner.
During this time Chris has pulled really hard for Auburn, while I have pulled for Alabama with just as much energy. We both also understand that part of the rivalry means he would be pulling for whoever lined up against the Tide when they played, while my second favorite school was the team Auburn faced each week.
He was a big Texas fan when they met Alabama in the BCS title game. The day Auburn faced Oregon, my colors were the same as the Duck players. Neither of us were thrilled when the wrong team won a national title.
That is OK—the two teams have a strong rivalry.
You know what, though? When we talk about Alabama and Auburn football, we might express our thrills and agonies as the rivalry ebbs, but we also are able to step back and see the warts with our chosen schools.
Additionaly, Chris has also been able to see the positive aspects of what is going on in Tuscaloosa, and I tell him the good that is taking place at Auburn.
And guess what? These conversations may be passionate, but they are never angry. They are not angry because we respect each other. When you respect someone for reasons that go beyond a football rivalry, it is hard to let that disrupt the rest of what goes into any relationship.
Here is what I believe today. The vast majority of Alabama fans are sick to their stomachs over what has happened at Toomer’s Corner, even though we hate to see Auburn fans roll it after a win against the Tide.
Here is what else I believe. As sick as most Bama people are over what happened, we will not be able to understand why Auburn people feel as they do. Why? It is more than trees that are dying; it is one of their traditions.
Traditions are what set college football apart from the pro game. It is the dotting of the "i" at Ohio State. You can hear it when the Hogs are called in Arkansas. It can be seen when the Schooner enters the field at Oklahoma. It is singing “Take Me Home Country Roads” at West Virginia. It is the pride displayed when the students march in for the Army-Navy game.
It is every tradition on every campus that makes fans from one generation to another feel connected at any age. It is these traditions that allow college football fans of all colors to feel kinship and connection when they meet each other in any setting.
What happened at Auburn was not good for Alabama football and the traditions fans of the school love. It was actually an insult to the memory of Paul “Bear” Bryant, who called for Alabama players and fans to always have class.
What one misguided individual did at Auburn was not "getting back" for a prank played by some Auburn fan. It was a swipe at all of college football and the traditions that make the game great.
So today, while there is so much venom in the air around the state of Alabama, there is just one thing this Alabama fan wants to say for college football fans around the nation: War Eagle. After all, there are no games if we don’t have each other.