The Iron Bowl is, without a doubt, the greatest rivalry in sports.
Or, it is the greatest rivalry in sports that don’t divide fans by religious affiliations or hooligan clans. Now, people can argue against this statement, but I will not be swayed. Still, I invite you to give it a shot.
I know right now there are a few rivalries that have already popped into everyone’s heads. Yep, there are some good ones that I will discuss, but nothing matches the Iron Bowl.
In college football you have Ohio State vs. Michigan.
It’s a good one, but not as great as the Iron Bowl. First off, the rivalry is between two states. Sure, this past Monday morning, Michigan fans went to work with heads hung low.
However, they were probably comforted by fellow Michigan fans in their home state. They didn’t have to sit next to some smug Auburn Tiger or Alabama Crimson Tide co-worker who will give them grief for the next year.
Plus, people in Ohio and Michigan have professional sports teams to focus on.
In the NFL, Ohio has the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns (okay, those are bad examples), while Michigan has the Detroit Lions…okay forget I said anything about the NFL teams.
Both states have decent professional basketball and baseball teams.
Heck, Detroit even has the nickname of “Hockeytown.” Birmingham once took pride in being called “The College Football Capital of the South,” because that’s really all the state of Alabama has.
We have no professional teams to divert our attention. That’s why you have close to 100,000 people show up to a spring scrimmage in Alabama. We live, eat, and breathe college football 365 days a year.
Honestly, we have pretty much nothing else to do. Could somebody at least open up a Dave & Busters here, or something? Please?
Really, can you even compare Ohio State-Michigan to Alabama-Auburn now? Do you see how much more the Iron Bowl means to the residents of the state of Alabama? It’s not even close.
Staying in college football, you have the Army vs. Navy game, but they really play for nothing more than pride. Plus, I think you probably had to serve in either one of these branches of the Armed Forces to feel the full affect.
The South Carolina vs. Clemson, Florida vs. Florida State, and Georgia vs. Georgia Tech rivalries, while intense, are diminished because the rivals don’t even play in the same conference. Unless there are national championship implications, then the game is usually only for pride.
Miami vs. Florida State comes close in terms of conference consequences and same state hatred, but Miami hardly ever sells out even some of the biggest conference games, and both teams are infested with fair-weather fans who couldn’t have told you a thing about either school before 1983.
Duke vs. North Carolina probably comes as close to the Iron Bowl as anything in college sports. The difference is that they could potentially play each other four times in one year. Also, everybody hates Duke, so what good is a rivalry if there is no unique hatred?
As for professional sports, the greatest rivalry everyone points to would be the New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox.
Great, yes, but on par with the Iron Bowl? Please.
They play each other approximately 238 times during the regular season. It’s not a “one shot, winner take all” type of deal. Even then, defeated New York and Boston fans can soothe themselves with the New York Giants, Boston Celtics, and New England Patriots.
This is the truth, no matter what ESPN tells you.
I'm sure I've forgotten a few rivalries. But really, what does it matter? Nothing touches the Iron Bowl.
I will open up the topic for debate, but be warned. You're going to be wrong.