Jay Coulter, the Auburn blogger at the AOL Fanhouse recently posted a story bashing Alabama. An Auburn fan bashing Alabama isn't exactly news, but I'd like to breakdown a few points from his post and offer commentary on them. I agree with him on some points, but vehemently disagree on others. Anyway, onto the story:
The opening salvo is simply ludicrous. While Auburn has clearly had the upperhand in the series recently, the rivalry certainly hasn't lost its luster. Auburn fans still enjoy a victory over Alabama more than anything else, Coulter even said the same thing two days earlier. Auburn is in one of the peak times in the history of the their program, Alabama is coming out of the lowest point in their history. The convergence of Auburn's highs and Alabama's lows not only doesn't lessen the intensity of the rivalry, it probably increases it. Alabama is tired of losing to Auburn and the the Tigers are enjoying it more than ever. Alabama's nine game winning streak against Auburn from 1973 to 1981 kept things incredibly fired up (that's what my parents said anyway.)
I'm not sure what he's getting at here. Alabama certainly isn't highly rated this year. The Tide is ranked #24 in the coaches' poll and #28 in the AP poll. I wouldn't even know how to gauge the "overratedness" of a team in that position. In 2004, Alabama was 6-4 coming into the Auburn game and not regarded highly at all. If we're talking the last decade or so, Alabama has certainly had some lows, but we have one SEC championship and zero national championships in that time period...the same as Auburn.
At the risk of being ostracized by my Bama brethren, I'm in complete agreement with Mr. Coulter on this one. There is waaaaaaaaay too much focus on the accomplishments of Bear Bryant at Alabama. The way I see it, we should be grateful that we had such an amazing coach make an incredible run for our team but it shouldn't dominate the fans' thinking 20+ years later.
Bear Bryant appeared on the big screen at Bryant-Denny three seperate times last Saturday: in two pre-game videos, and once during the game. That's too much in my opinion. Yes the stadium should be named after him, as should the museum and a street for that matter, but I don't think any other school has as much of a "cult of the coach" as we do. We can honor our past without alienating our present. I can't imagine what post-Bryant coaches feel like in that shadow. As fans, we should have high expectations for the program and the coaches, but we can't expect a clone to come along. I'd even go so far as to say that unrealistic (and unfair) expectations of coaches have adversely impacted the program in the post-Bryant era. The state of the game in general (scholarship limitations, etc.) isn't the same today as it was in Bryant's day, so we can't expect another coach to achieve the same things in a different environment with greater parity than ever.
While I'd certainly rather have had Auburn's success over the last 5 years than the chaos that has reigned in Tuscaloosa, that's a nice chunk of hyperbole there. If the next five years or so play out for both teams like the last five have, then I'll take the "Auburn is Alabama" statement a little more seriously.
That's a painful fact for sure. I'm hoping Alabama relaxes the itchy trigger finger it's had on firing coaches and eases up on the unreasonable pressures that chase coaches off.
The rest of his post covers various coaching difficulties at Alabama and the current state of the two programs (Bama having to come from behind against Vandy and Auburn being in a national title hunt) and I'm not particularly inclined to make lengthy comments on this young season.
I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on his points and on mine.