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TV ratings always need headlines. That's how to drive ratings. Every weekend during college football is the next best weekend ever. Each particular game will change the sport forever. After all, how can College Gameday continue to draw massive crowds? They have to convince the average fan that each weekend is more special than the next. That hype is particularly needed elsewhere in the country, but not necessarily in the SEC. The fans know how special each and every game is, which is why the largest stadiums in FBS are in the SEC and those stadiums are routinely full to capacity.
While this Iron Bowl is already being hyped as the most anticipated games in all of college football, and not just for 2014, the media will force feed fans headlines and shove locker hanging material down their throats until the game is actually settled.
This game could go either way, with surprises galore, but there is something that I want to address. It's a statement of FACT that the media LOVES to promote. They love to get fan bases primed for football to drive those ratings. They don't have to be right. They care very little about who wins. In the meantime, the media and prognosticators have all fed Alabama fans just what they needed to create a self-perpetuating monster. Everyone is blindly picking the Tide to win the 2014 Iron Bowl. Yes. Blindly.
There is something that the "new" modern age Alabama fan needs to get educated on. When it comes to the Iron Bowl, Bryant-Denny Stadium is a House of Cards. Right now, every delusional Tide fan out there wants to throw their nearest beverage at their screen, coffee, beer or otherwise. They are thinking, "What a preposterous thing to say! Bama OWNS teams inside of BDS, Auburn included!"
It's these fans that I want to talk to. To point at the facts. To point out that they are being duped by the media and each other. Because they are also the same fans that only acknowledge the years of The Bear and Saban. It's those fans that went out and first spent their own money on Bama bumper stickers and houndstooth on February of 2008 when Julio Jones and his famed "best class ever" signed their LOI. They have spawned a whole generation of delusional fan.
These fans have "grown up" in a terrific era of Tide football, and there is no disputing that. Coach Saban has brought the Tide into a magnificent era of college football. The problem is, it has created a completely disillusioned fan base. These fans are completely out of touch with reality. All you had to do to understand this was to watch ESPN after the Sugar Bowl this year. Or listen to any given day of the Paul Finebaum show. These look at the 2-loss 2013 campaign as an utter failure, which is preposterous to even consider. These fans expect to destroy any and every team that the Tide plays. With their second string.
These fans expect Bama to do what they have ALWAYS done to Auburn at BDS.....annihilate them. Even some of the games great prognosticators have given the Tide a 7+ point OR BETTER spread in the 2014 Iron Bowl. Why? 'Cause Bama. In BDS.
But wait a minute. Let's get a little perspective.
For the most part, the Tide has been nearly unbeatable at BDS since Saban took the helm.
Let's recap, though...just for posterity.
Saban is 2-2 at home against Top 10 teams.
UGA, LSU(twice), LA-Monroe, Auburn, and Texas A&M have all beaten the Tide at home under Saban. So, a Saban coached team averages one home loss per year. That's far from the unbeatable facade that the media seems to push and the uneducated Bama fan swallows. I DO take that with a grain of salt. The Tide lost fully half of those games in Saban's first year. And, he inherited a bit of a trainwreck which he transformed into a powerhouse. But, stats are stats. And the stats say this: they average one a year and they didn't loose one last year.
What is Bama's record against Auburn at BDS? Do you know?
Two and Seven. Bama didn't score a POINT in the first 3 Iron Bowls in Tuscaloosa. They didn't win one until Saban came to town.
And, of course, my favorite stat: Saban has never beaten a ranked Auburn team. Ever.
It's no secret that things in Tuscaloosa changed when Saban became the head coach at Alabama. And, since Saban has become the Savior, Alabama has put down two epic sized beatdowns on Auburn in BDS. The stats also say this: Auburn has outscored Alabama at BDS 162-147. What's even more remarkable is that 85 of the Tide's 147 points scored at BDS EVER have come from 2 specific games. Those being the last year of Auburn's previous 2 coaches, Tommy Tuberville and Gene Chizik. Additionally, in both of these games, the Auburn team didn't score a point.
But, as fans from both sides of the aisle will say: "that was the past."
Why am I writing this article? The sports nut in me spends way too much time reading sports news, listening to radio shows, and watching ESPN. And though I go by the name "The Auburn Realist", the Auburn homer in me rebels at some of the drivel I keep hearing. Bama opens up as a 7-11 point favorite at BDS. Why? Is it talent?
I have no problem admitting that Alabama has the higher AVERAGE talent. I mean, you can go to any recruiting service and see that, if you buy into their spiel. If you couldn't tell, I said that with a HINT of sarcasm. Now, there is no doubt that a stout defense will be fielded by Saban. That's the hallmark of the era, but he once again has to replace several starters that left for the NFL, including Clintin-Dix, Mosely Sunseri, and several others. To me, what is the most bothersome (if I were a Tide fan) is that Saban finally fielded a defensive secondary that wasn't shaky. And now they are gone (except Collins, who played in place of an injured Sunseri). All of them. So, you have a Bama defense that will bring in another crop of youngin' on the back end to play against an Auburn team that can now THROW the ball, too? Gus Malzahn will bring one of the most talented offenses in college football to T-town, including his first time 2nd year starter in Nick Marshall.
Offensively, The Tide will also feature on offensive line that has repeatedly been refereed to by "experts" as one of the bottom units in the SEC, replacing several vacancies. Enter new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, who will either melt down the offense, or turn it into a yard and point churning monster....before melting it down. Again, the point being that the Tide is far from invincible at home, especially in the Iron Bowl. It seems silly to me that a team whose Heir to the Game Manager Throne hasn't taken his first snap IN PRACTICE. And while everyone spouts that he took Winston to the wire for the starting job at FSU, Auburn fans will recall that Trotter to Cam Newton "to the wire" for the starting job, too. Add into the mix an Auburn defense that HAS to be better...and WILL be better.
Sprinkle in 20,000 Auburn fans who are louder than the 80,000 other Alabama fans. And although it was hard to compete with all the huge TVs and flashing lights, "Take the Money and Run" blaring, and the fake dollar bills with Cam's face on it, the Auburn fan base drowns out the home side. Sound like a stretch? It isn't. I've been there.
It boils down to this. The common everyday Joe from the rest of the country may simply look at the schedule and circle Alabama because they are the home team in a rivalry game, and that would be ok. After all, no one outside of the State of Alabama cares what they think, anyway. But to hear the snickers and sneers by Bama fans and even these prognosticators who think it's asinine to think Auburn has a chance to win, is just too much.
Even though many of these same people read this article, they still maintain their position and I won't change their mind. It occurred to me, just now, that perhaps that is for the best, all things considered. A history that isn't in favor and a rabid fan base who can't accept reality.
A House of Cards, just waiting to fall.