This is a revision of a post I made last year. Sorry it is late. The latest hi jinx from a certain North Korean leader have kept this Air Force colonel busy ensuring your nation was ready to respond if he tried anything more threatening than tossing a few artillery shells into the south. (Why does everyone seem to hate the south?)
Anyway, hope you enjoy and I hope you will spread the word among the tailgaters to be loud. To Spock: happy T-day, happy I-day (Ironbowl Day) and I will look for you on-line during the game, Love Dad
Ask not what Bama can do for you; ask what you can do for Bama, Vol II. For eleven Saturdays, Bama’s warriors have done their best. They have struggled, fought and kept their heads as we fretted, worried, sweated and swore. For eleven weeks of weekdays, they have allowed us to walk about our everyday lives with silly grins or melancholy on our faces, to end conversations with the phase "Roll Tide" instead of old standbys like "good-bye" and "I love you," which, by the way, convey much less emotion than "Roll Tide" to a Bama fan. Even if that phrase was uttered in the pain of defeat the way a soothing voice is used to comfort those who have shared the anguish of experiencing a loss…a way to say “I too feel your pain, but I too know this pain will pass next Saturday.”
We come now to the last gameday in this regular season. The team has given us more than we deserve. Coach Saban asked his green youngsters to play like professionals, and they did. He asked his injured to play through the pain, and they did. Two games short of perfection, three scores away from nirvana, but no less loved in our hearts. Yet again, we ask them to take the field of battle. This time against the mighty giant, the garland-draped hero of the gridiron and the forces he leads onto the field of football struggle. Can we ask more of our team than to rise up and perform better than they have done for these past many weeks? And if we do ask for this last pound of flesh, what are we willing to give in return? How can we help our scared warriors in this final hour? Lord Wellington, before meeting Napoleon at Waterloo, feared his forces were outmatched by the skilled, and undefeated French enemy. But Wellington knew like all leaders, and like Saban knows today, that you must engage with the forces you have. Wellington also knew he had one advantage: he could choose the location for that battle…and use that location to defeat his antagonist. We too have chosen the location of the battle against our hero-led foes. We can give back to our Bama warriors by taking full advantage of that location. We must make our presence felt on that battlefield with noise.
Last year this time, my son, whom you know as Spock, arrived back in the states after 15-months in Kuwait and immediately treated us both to our first game in BDS. At that game he and I did our best to make enough noise to be heard in the Arkansas St huddle. (I take credit for one delay of game and one forced time out by Arkansas St, simply from our screaming at the top of our lungs.) Sadly, this year we are separated once again by an ocean and our oaths to protect our nation’s security, so we will not make the Iron Bowl. But over 100,000 of you will. Coach Saban has asked us to “suit up” to join his forces on the field. A call to arms with so much motivation, so much emotion and such a clear message, that it makes me want to cry havoc and let loose the dogs of war.
We have asked so much of our team, and they have delivered. We must now give back. From the time Auburn enters the offensive huddle until the ball is snapped, there must be a din so loud that the Auburn players think of the Alabama crowd as a physical presence. Before the ball is snapped, we want the Auburn players to feel they must steal glances to the sidelines to see if it is an illusion, or if the stands are inching closer and closer to the field. A din so loud that as Cam Newton is calling a play in the huddle, his offensive players are not sure if they heard him say left or right for the next run. So is it too much to ask to keep up such a cacophony for a whole game? Our fans are sophisticated enough to know that the actual time spent in a huddle and at the line during a game amounts to mere minutes. Asking the fans to spend 10 minutes screaming at the top of their lungs is asking a small sacrifice for a team that has worked so hard over the summer to prepare to be the winners they are today.
Coach Saban has been compared to any number of historical icons, including the obsessive white whale hunter Ahab. That made me start thinking of a literary comparison to the noise that the Tide fans must make during the Auburn game. In our noise making, we do not just want to be loud, we don't want to be mean, or vicious, or crude, or take any other low-brow short cut that fans from schools such as Miss St with their cow bells and LSU with their nastiness take in a usually failed attempt to intimidate the visiting team. When we look for a literary example of the noise we want to make, we can look to our team for clues...we want our crowd noise to be scary loud.
We have a coach who in anger is terrifying, and even when happy, can make grown men cower. We have a defensive line that, when healthy, must look to enemy offenses like the Alps, immovable objects that they fear to approach. Our offensive line, when moving as one large mass of humanity, must be very similar to the last thing cowboys of old witnessed during a cattle stampede...the most feared event for the pokes. The comparisons could go on: from a quarterback cooler than a block of ice so thick Titanic survivors can't watch Bama games, to a defensive back corps that steal footballs from enemy quarterbacks the way Freddie Krueger steals dreams from unsuspecting teens, to a stable of running backs that make the 4 horsemen of the Apocalypse look like short pants-wearing kids on the pony ride at a state fair, our team is the example of the fright we want to evoke in others. Our 100,000 plus fans must meet that level of fearfulness. And when it comes to fear and abject horror, no one is better than H.P. Lovecraft. I had remembered Lovecraft writing of the noise one of his monster creations made; a sound so terrifying it could stop a man's heart. That is what we want from our fans...not meanness, but fearfulness, it affect, this:
“The din was my undoing…. Without warning came those deep, cracked, raucous vocal sounds which will never leave the memory of the stricken group who heard them. Not from any human throat were they born, for the organs of man can yield no such acoustic perversions. Rather would one have said they came from the pit itself, had not their source been so unmistakably the altar-stone on the peak. It is almost erroneous to call them sounds at all, since so much of their ghastly, infra-bass timbre spoke to dim seats of consciousness and terror far subtler than the ear; yet one must do so, since their form was indisputably though vaguely that of half-articulate words. They were loud - loud as the rumblings and the thunder above which they echoed - yet did they come from no visible being. And because imagination might suggest a conjectural source in the world of non-visible beings, the huddled crowd at the mountain's base huddled still closer, and winced as if in expectation of a blow.”
The Dunwich Horror 1929
We don't need to call Auburn nasty names, or disparage their moms, or question their manliness. All we need to do is be loud. Scientists say the loudest sound ever made was the eruption of the Krakatoa volcano in 1883. Those who were lucky enough to survive the lava and ash had their eardrums shattered, and many never recovered their hearing. Just as bad as the physical pain was the horror. Survivors had life-long nightmares about The Sound. This is what we ask of our fans. Our noise does not need to make Auburn mad, it needs to make them afraid. And Lovecraft and Krakatoa show us that sound itself can evoke that sensation.
Do I ask the impossible? Am I asking too much of a simple fan who paid his/her hard-earned money to attend and enjoy a game? It depends. If a fan wants to tell their kids and grandkids that they were there that day, that they watched the game, then it may be too much to ask of such a casual "fan." If however, that same fan wants to tell their progeny that not only did they attend the game, they helped win it, they fought with the players, they left a little of themselves in that stadium that day, that because of their contribution, the Alabama and Auburn players will be telling the mythical story of The Sound heard that day, then I am only asking for what we owe a Bama team that has given us so much more.
In my far-away military abode outside St Louis, I will be listening Saturday, just as the media from around the US, SEC fans and poll-watching fans from around the nation will be listening. And what they will hear is terror, a cacophony so loud that no team will ever want to set foot in BDS ever again. The difference for me is, that sometime during the game I will step away from my T.V. (the announcers will not be able to be heard anyway) and step to my door. As I stick my head out of the door, and I tilt it just right...I think I will hear a sound from south, a sound so frightening that I will be happy...happy that horrible sound wave is not direct at me, but at my enemy. Roll Tide Roll.<!--EndFragment-->