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Alabama Football Prepares for the Iron Bowl: Redemption and Vengeance

Jonathan Fravel@jfravel135Senior Analyst INovember 23, 2011

Backup Nose Tackle, Brandon Ivory
Backup Nose Tackle, Brandon IvoryMike Zarrilli/Getty Images

Redemption: satisfaction reparation for a wrong or an injury (atonement); atonement for guilt. That is part one of the purpose Alabama has focused on for this game.

Vengeance, revenge, vendetta, retribution: a response to a real or perceived wrongdoing, is part two.

The goal in revenge or vengeance, usually consists of forcing the perceived wrongdoer to suffer the same (or worse) pain that was originally inflicted. It's the original definition for justice, just so you know.

Boy has society change that definition. In fact, in the worst cases of harm, and now we're going Old Testament here, vengeance was to be left to the Lord because the punishment meted in achieving retribution would place the vigilante in sin. Only God could deliver the righteous punishment for such a harmful act against another human being.

Well, to keep it simple, because this is just a game, we'll keep the Lord out of it and leave vengeance up to Nick Saban and the 2011 Crimson Tide for what initiated the printing of the "Never Again" posters that have been viewed every day by the players on the Alabama Football team since the last Iron Bowl.

For the first part, redemption. That is between Nick Saban, the football team and the Alabama fanbase. You see, after 30 minutes of playing football in last year's contest, The Crimson Tide went into the locker room at halftime with a 24-7 lead. It was one of the largest halftime leads in the history of the storied rivalry, one that should have been insurmountable.

Moreover, Alabama blistered the Auburn defense for 388 yards on 38 offensive plays. Julio Jones had seven catches for 170 yards in the first half, and Greg McElroy was on course to set the single-game passing record against the Auburn Tigers.And this was not just another Iron Bowl. Auburn rolled into Tuscaloosa ranked No. 2, its quarterback was the leading Heisman Trophy candidate and to top it off, the Tigers were undefeated.

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Last year was a war. This year, Alabama fans want a slaughter
Last year was a war. This year, Alabama fans want a slaughterKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In addition, it was well known that the Blue and Orange had a propensity for dramatic come-from-behind victories in the 2010 season, overcoming large deficits four times before entering into the 2010 Iron Bowl. Alabama was doing everything correctly.

And in the locker room, Nick Saban reminded the team of these facts that I have listed. He also warned them, "They aren't going to go away, now," he says he told them. "You've got to be ready for the barrage of what's going to happen."

The rest is Iron Bowl history. But I'll refresh your memory, if you have selectively forgotten. Alabama ran 33 plays, had 58 total yards of offense in the second half and went 0-8 on third downs. Not a single third-down conversion.

While Saban has always given Gene Chizik and the Auburn Football team credit for the comeback victory, he recently stated, "I mean, since things went bad, I think it was a horrible job of coaching, if you want to know the truth about it."

Redemption is needed to reassure the fans that this kind of collapse will never again happen to a Nick Saban-coached Alabama football team. Vengeance, well, that is needed for the Crimson Tide team, as a whole. The Auburn team made Alabama look like it didn't even belong in the same stadium in the second half.

It was as if the first half never happened.

As a football player, you never forget those moments. Some refer to them as "teachable moments." In a sport such as football, when domination is the goal, if another team completely dominates your offense and defense for an entire half when you thought you had taken them out, you simply didn't finish.You got punk'd.

A disgusted, Alabama head coach, Nick Saban
A disgusted, Alabama head coach, Nick SabanStreeter Lecka/Getty Images

And that is exactly what the Auburn football team did in the second half of the 2010 Iron Bowl. Not only did the Crimson Tide get punk'd, they got punk'd in their own house by their in-state rival, on national television, following a national championship campaign the year before.

In addition, because of that come-from-behind victory, your in-state rival was launched into the national championship game. A game in which you thought that you belonged. To add insult to injury, your Heisman Trophy winner from the year before, your highly acclaimed running back, had to humble himself on a national stage and offer the next Heisman Trophy to the quarterback that led his team to victory in your house, when you had control, but for a brief moment in time.

Then Gene Chizik, Gus Malzahn, Cameron Newton, Nick Fairley and the Auburn Tigers took the national stage and walked onto the pedestal, hoisting the trophy you had claimed to be your own, from just one year before. The Coaches Trophy—the crystal football that is awarded to the best college football team in the nation.

Your pedestal, your trophy, your claim from one year prior.

And in a state such as Alabama, that doesn't just go away. It lasts for 364 days, 365 days in a leap year. And for whatever reason, it hurts, and the hurt runs deep. And everywhere you go, as a player or a fan, and I mean anywhere in the state and for some, anywhere in the region, there is someone to remind you of your inadequacy, or the inadequacy of the team that you support.

Redemption and vengeance, that's just for appetizer. And these players and fans intend to stay for the whole five-course meal. Roll Tide on Saturday, and don't stop for the entire 60 minutes. A slaughter and feast are what we are after, as fans. And nothing short will suffice. 

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