Bama Fandom: Where it Started for Me

I’ve always been an Alabama football fan.  Always.  I can’t ever remember a time when I wasn’t.

That’s primarily because of the influence of my dad and my maternal grandfather.  Neither were college educated – i.e. neither went to school at Alabama, but both were Bama fans and their influence in all areas of my life – especially this one – is obvious.  They didn’t spend fall Saturdays hauling their families to Tuscaloosa for games and they didn’t spend their time bashing Bear and making excuses whenever things went wrong.  They were simply Alabama fans, rain or shine.  And as an Alabama fan born in the late 1960s and raised in the 1970s, there were a lot of sunny days.

Back in those days, games on television were rare.  Fans tuned in listen to John Forney call the action and, occasionally, we were treated to a Saturday afternoon ABC game.  Sundays brought a review of all the previous days college football action via Bill Fleming’s highlight show and, of course, a review of Bama football on the Bear Bryant show.  I also spent quite a few lazy fall Sundays studying the sports section of The Birmingham News and reliving all of the action via write-ups and box scores.

But there was one evening when my Alabama fandom took root and sprouted on its own, separate from my dad’s and granddad’s.  That night was December 20, 1976, the evening Alabama played UCLA in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee.

What was different about that night?  Why was that the beginning for me?  Well, this game was my first solo game.  It was the first game where I marked the calendar, eliminated every other distraction, guarded the one and only television in the house, popped a huge bowl of popcorn and then watched the game from beginning to end – all by myself.  I was then able to give my dad a first hand account of what happened when he arrived home from work late that night.

From that point forward, for the most part, I have a recollection of most of the football games Alabama has played.  That’s not to say I remember every detail, but I have tracked things rather closely.

That was actually a pretty good time to ascend to a full-fledged Tide fan.  The 1976 season had not been a particularly good one for Alabama – at least by Bama standards, and the ’76 Liberty Bowl launched another fantastic run by the program.

The game is also known as the coming out party for Tide linebacker Barry Krauss.  Here are a couple of links to his interception return for a touchdown and the game highlights…

Back

Blogging is hard work.

Regardless of one’s motive for writing, fulfilling the commitment to blog regularly takes a lot of effort. The process of coming up with the idea for a good post, writing it in a quality fashion and the doing so consistently, according to the committed schedule, is quite the undertaking. I’ve been able to blog consistently on a couple of sites, but eventually, the process wore me out and I dropped the blogging ball, so to speak.

On this site, for example, I’ve blogged through a couple of football seasons by posting articles on a daily basis. The seasons were fun and mostly successful, but by the end of the seasons, I’m mostly tired of talking about Alabama football. I also begin to realize that the time I’m spending on Alabama football blogging takes away time from writing about other things.

Life also takes over at some point.  Simply put, in the great big scheme of things, blogging is not that important and other, more important things need to be handled.  Back in 2012, for example, we sold our house and moved.  There was just no possible way to blog, despite being in the midst of a back-to-back title run.

But…as the calendar flips over and as we inch toward football season, the itch returns.  So, I’ve decided to give it another go, but with a few modifications.  The posts may or may not be daily and they won’t all be about Alabama football.  In an effort to be less herky-jerky and more consistent, I’ll probably just post all my blogs here instead of here and there.

It’s good to be back – for a while – and Roll Tide.

“By your words will you be condemned”

Challies has posted a few more thoughts on “celebrities” within Christianity.  Some of his thoughts are appropriate for the world of college football as well:

Let’s be clear: Some of our celebrities forfeit their right to be admired. Some of them take advantage of our goodwill and commit gross sin. But many others we demolish on the basis of rumor or hearsay or angry former friends and colleagues. Somehow we want to believe what we read about them, we do not give them the benefit of the doubt, we do not believe all things and hope all things about them. We read the rumors, we spread the rumors, we stand back and watch them fall. The effort we once put into raising them, we now put into destroying them.

Fandom and free speech don’t often work so nicely together.  We have the freedom to say a lot of things, but most of the time it’s better if we don’t.

A blogger can hide anonymously behind his username and spew any and all kinds of venom about people who happen to be living part of their lives in a fish bowl.  We rush to adore and then we rush to convict.  After all, you don’t get page clicks by having moderate or bland opinions.

We rush to be first and we rush to be loudest and we are never wrong.  That goes for blog commenters, too.

But Jesus Christ gives us an important reminder about all of these wonderful points we make:

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” – Matthew 12:36 (ESV)

Unfortunately for me, I usually do a better job of this blogging and commenting on the Internet than I do in real life.  But that is the standard for our “opinions.”

Just a thought.

Have a good one,

BD

 

A Thought on Apologizing

Based on the start to the Ohio State – Michigan game last Saturday, I had a feeling the day could get interesting.

Ohio State’s Marcus Hall added to the festivities by pulling off one of the rarest feats in sports – the double-bird flashed in the opponent’s stadium.

[Unfortunately, I am in this small club of bird-flickers.  Long story, don’t ask.]

Of course, later, Hall would issue an apology:

https://twitter.com/bigmarc79/status/407236980703907840

Obviously, it’s a good idea to apologize, but I do want to nit pick one little part of the apology:

“My actions do not reflect who I am as a person and a teammate.”

Um, yes they do, bro, because our actions do define how the world sees us.  I know, because I write this as someone who has goofed up a lot.  We may have the best intentions in the world, but what we do obviously begins to describe who we are.

I would suggest one small change to the apology…

“My actions do not reflect who I want to be as a person and a teammate.”

We mess up.  We do stupid things.  We let the heat of the moment get to us.  In Hall’s case, I completely understand.  He was just pulled out of a gang fight.  It’s understandable that his emotions are running high and he’s exiting the field most likely to a chorus of folks cursing him.

Obviously, it’s a lot better to not do the stupid things.  I’m not making an excuse for that.  He was disqualified for fighting and his lack of self-control cost his team.

One final note, when we mess up, we should do our best to make things right.  We apologize.  We try to restore the injured.  Our actions then should show that we really are sorry.  But then we move on.  The world defines us by our actions and the world may not forgive our actions.  That’s part of the consequence of messing up.  And that’s also part of learning that the world doesn’t define who we are.

For followers of Jesus Christ, our identity is found in Him – even though the world may judge us and even though we may have to live with consequences.

Just something to think about.

Apologies, Apologies

There have been a lot of apologies in the sports pages lately.

I saw an apology for Floyd Mayweather, Jr. related to a post on his Instagram account that he says he didn’t post:

“I apologize to Oscar and his family for this posting. I wish him well and am rooting for him to win his fight too. I also apologize to all of my followers for this ridiculous post. I have no ill-will towards anyone.”

Then there was this apology from Oregon Duck tight end Colt Lyerla for something he did say:

Lyerla apologized after practice Monday for airing his frustration publicly and said he never meant to be a distraction. Both he and Helfrich say they have discussed the matter and have moved on from it.

There was an apology from Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon for a gesture that cost his team 15 yards:

“I want to apologize to everyone for my selfish actions on Saturday,” Yeldon wrote. “That is not the way I want to represent myself, my family and our team. That is not the way we do things at Alabama. This is something that I will learn from, and I will use better judgment in the future.”

And Nebraska head football coach Bo Pellini even apologized twice.

Here:

“I want to sincerely apologize for my comments from two years ago which became public today.  I take full responsibility for these comments.  They were spoken in a private room following the Ohio State game.  I was venting following a series of emotional events which led to this moment.  That being said, these comments are in no way indicative of my true feelings.  I love it here in Nebraska and feel fortunate to be associated with such a great University and fan base.  I again apologize to anyone whom I have offended.”

 
And here:
“I do believe that we have great fans,” he said. “I respect them. I respect them for who they are. I’ve said it over and over and over since I’ve been here that we have great fans. But I’m human like anyone else. You say things in an emotional moment under certain circumstances. Like anybody else, you’re human. You make mistakes. You apologize for your mistakes and you move on. And that’s all you can do in this situation.
Heck, I even had to do some apologizing to my wife after last Saturday’s first quarter.
 
These apologies may seem a bit contrived – especially since they were written by a paid public relations guru, but they are still important.  They’re important to those who have been offended and they are important to those who have done the offending.  First, when we offend we have the obligation to admit to God that what we’ve done is a sin against Him, but then, if we are really sorry, we should do whatever is necessary to make it right by the offended party.  In the above cases, a public apology is part of the bare minimum that can be done.  
 
Apologizing also humbles us.  When we have to stand up in public and say that we did something wrong, it has the uncanny effect of helping us to remember to not do that again.  It’s not 100% effective, but it sure helps.  Yes, some of the apologies were probably not heartfelt and maybe even a bit canned, but they can still serve a purpose.  
 
 

Fluker Perspective

I’m a big fan of D.J. Fluker.

This huge young man of immense talent was a star for the University of Alabama.  He wasn’t the biggest star he could have been – after all he played right tackle instead of left, but he gave heart and soul to his team and school and left this past spring as a first round draft choice of the NFL.

He’s also a young man that overcame much adversity on his way from being a Hurricane Katrina refugee to a Mobile high school star to a national champion.  And along the way, he could have left early for the NFL, but stayed one more year at Alabama and won one more national title.

So, of course, I was a little disappointed to hear about the recent allegations involving Fluker and an agent and a runner and some cash.  Players of all socioeconomic backgrounds play college football and I’m positive they all understand the rules about taking cash from folks like runners for agents.  I’m positive they all know it’s wrong.  I’m positive Fluker – if this indeed happened – knew it was wrong.  If it’s true – he flat out shouldn’t have done it – no matter what his economic situation is.

You may be broke and your school may be profiting millions from you, but you still shouldn’t do it.  Your taught to understand it’s against the rules and you shouldn’t do it.

But at the same time, I find it hard to blame Fluker – if he indeed do something wrong.  (And that’s a big if.)  I say this for two reasons.

First, like most college students, I’m sure he was broke.  Again, this doesn’t make it right (again, if he did anything wrong), but after busting your can full-time for your school I could understand wanting a little spending money.

Second, worrying about this goes beyond my perspective as a college football fan.  I have a job and a family and obligations all over the place.  I have responsibilities and things that eat away at my time (some that I like and some I don’t).  But I don’t have a whole lot of hobbies.  I don’t golf or hunt or play tennis or junk like that.  Church, family and work.  That’s pretty much it except for writing a little, running a little and watching some college football.

I’m sorry, but I don’t have the time or the appetite to worry about my team cheating or some player taking money.  I hope they don’t or haven’t and I certainly don’t condone it, but I’m not in the mood to worry about it.

So today, here’s a reminder for myself.  It’s September and it’s Saturday, so the Tide is probably playing.  I’m going to plop on the couch around 2:30 and listen to Verne and Gary and sulk, stew, holler, moan and shout for the next three or four hours.  And when it’s over, hopefully I haven’t cussed too much or hollered so loud the neighbors hear.  Win or lose, it’s just a game – albeit a game involving the Alabama Crimson Tide – and Monday, good Lord willing, I’ll be back at the salt mine.

Roll Tide.

Week 1 Review

Starting off 12-1 is a good way to kick off the season…

Ole Miss 39, Vanderbilt 35 [Prediction: Ole Miss 28 Vanderbilt 24]

  • Pre-game: “There’s not much separating these two teams and tonight’s season opener should be a close game.”
  • Post-game: Going to Nashville and pulling out a win was a great way for the Black Bears to start the season.  Franklin’s Dores are already in a hole.

Florida 24, Toledo 6 [Prediction: Florida 38 Toledo 10]

  • Pre-game: “Gator fans are looking for signs of life in their offense. The Rockets should help them feel a tad better.”
  • Post-game: Yawn.

Western Kentucky 35, Kentucky 26 [Prediction: Kentucky 22 Western Kentucky 21]

  • Pre-game: “It’s entirely possible for Mark Stoops to lose his opener to Bobby Petrino’s Hilltoppers. It’ll be close, but they won’t.”
  • Post-game:  My lone loser of the week.  I should have gone with my gut and picked the Hilltoppers.

Missouri 58, Murray State 14 [Prediction: Missouri 34 Murray State 14]

  • Pre-game: “Nothing says college football is back like Missou vs. Murray State.”
  • Post-game: Yawn, part two.

Arkansas 34, UL-Lafayette 14 [Prediction: Arkansas 28 UL-Lafayette 14]

  • Pre-game: “Last year a small-time Louisiana school put a beatin’ on the Hogs. This year, the Ragin’ Cajuns won’t be so lucky as the Hogs win in Bret Bielema’s debut.”
  • Post-game: After last year, I’m sure Hog fans are happy with any sort of win.

Tennessee 45, Austin Peay 0 [Prediction: Tennessee 45 Austin Peay 10]

  • Pre-game: “Can Butch Jones lead the Vols out of the desert? Who knows, but this easy win over the Governors sure doesn’t hurt.”
  • Post-game: A shut out is a great way for the Jones era to start in Knoxville.

Auburn 31, Washington State 24 [Prediction: Auburn 24 Washington State 23]

  • Pre-game: “The Gus Malzahn era starts with a win, albeit a close one, over Mike Leach’s Coogs.”
  • Post-game: The Coogs basically gave this one away.

South Carolina 27, North Carolina 10 [Prediction: South Carolina 31 North Carolina 17]

  • Pre-game: “Jadeveon Clowney will actually get blocked a couple of times, but it won’t help as the Tar Heels fall to the Gamecocks.”
  • Post-game: The Heels gave Clowney and the Gamecocks all they wanted.

Oklahoma State 21, Mississippi State 3 [Prediction: Oklahoma State 31 Mississippi State 30]

  • Pre-game: “There will be lots of offense in this SEC-Big 12 match-up in Houston, but the Dogs fall a little short.”
  • Post-game:  Three points against a Big 12 defense?  Makes you wonder how bad things could get in Starkville this year.

LSU 37, TCU 27 [Prediction: LSU 35 TCU 17]

  • Pre-game: “The Tigers usually play well in big season openers. The Horned Frogs ain’t exactly, big time, but Les Miles and the gang still roll.”
  • Post-game: I good win for LSU, though time will tell how good the Frogs actually are.

Alabama 35, Virginia Tech 10 [Prediction: Alabama 30 Virginia Tech 17]

  • Pre-game: “A garbage score or two by Tech makes this game look closer than it actually is.”
  • Post-game: I’ll take it.

Texas A&M 52, Rice 31 [Prediction: Texas A&M 56 Rice 24]

  • Pre-game: “Are you kidding me? Johnny Football plays and plays well as the Aggies stomp the Owls.”
  • Post-game: Johnny Manziel only played one half and that’s about all I could stomach.

Clemson 38, Georgia 34 [Prediction: Clemson 35 Georgia 34]

  • Pre-game: “This is clearly the game of the week in college football. The edge in this one goes to the Tigers playing at home.”
  • Post-game:  The Fightin’ Dabos were ready and the hole in Aaron Murray’s resume is still there.