Two days ago I was standing in line at the Dorie Miller Galley on board Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, awaiting my turkey dinner and all the fixings. The temperature was cooler than usual, somewhere in the mid 80’s, and the sun was just beginning to set on the horizon.
You wouldn’t know it here in Africa. There were none of the usual tell tale signs. There were no autumn leaves trying on their multi-colored fall coats, and I when I took a deep breath, there was no biting winter air to chill my lungs. Just dust and gravel for as far as the eye could see.
Still, I knew it just like all of you back home in America knew it. It was Thanksgiving Day and the Iron Bowl was two days away.
Maybe this year’s meeting, the 77th between Alabama and Auburn, won’t be as memorable as some. The game probably won’t come down to one final game-winning drive. The fourth quarter will likely be filled with talk of next week’s SEC Championship game between the Crimson Tide and Georgia, instead of the rabid screams of Tiger fans only minutes away from an upset of the No.2 team in the country.
But for all the talk of how this game used to mean something, and for all the reminiscing about the good old days when this rivalry game would routinely come down to the final play, when true competition still existed, would Alabama fans really trade then for now?
Sure, there are probably more than a few Tide faithful who would like to see this game contested right down to the end, but they are the minority I assure you.
Not that long ago, the Tigers held a six-game win streak over Alabama, and it was difficult for Tide fans to keep down those Thanksgiving leftovers as Auburn's head coach at the time, Tommy Tuberville, raised his fingers in the air after each contest.
It was a dark time for Tide nation, but things have changed.
Under coach Nick Saban, the Alabama football program has seen a resurgence in recent years, and is now poised to compete for its third BCS Championship in four years, while arch-rival Auburn has plummeted to the bottom of the SEC, and has managed no conference wins this season.
Maybe some fans long for the day when this rivalry meant something. Maybe some would like to see a thrilling conclusion to four quarters of intense gridiron action. But I think most are happy with where this rivalry sits at the moment. After all, there’s nothing better than beating your nemesis, except for maybe beating them by three or four touchdowns.
So give thanks Alabama fans. Be thankful for the success that your team has enjoyed in recent years. Because even though this super-sonic rise to the top shows no signs of slowing, gravity will eventually take control.
Until next time, Roll Tide!