Five weeks to kick-off

I have written a lot about weight loss, diet, exercise, injuries, roadblocks and issues related to my aneurysm. But this time of year, my attention starts to turn to thoughts of orange and blue.

You see, though I love the Detroit Red Wings (and have since about 1972), the Detroit Tigers (predating my love for the Red Wings), and though embarrassed, I do love the Detroit Lions, my passion is college football and the Auburn Tigers!

This love affair began in 1990 when I moved to Auburn, Alabama to attend graduate school. I arrived in June and by September had caught the fever. My daughter spent most autumn Saturdays in the stands with me (and my ex-husband) watching Auburn football. We were lucky enough to get permission for her to sit in the student section with us.

With only 5 weeks until kickoff against Clemson, let me take you through a typical football weekend in Auburn. If you think that people just arrive for the game and then leave afterwards, you have never experienced SEC football.  People begin arriving Friday afternoon (Thursday or earlier if it is a big game – like University of Alabama). Depending on the game, the television crew may arrive days before.

Greetings of ‘War Eagle’ are encountered at every turn.

People show up in RV’s, towing trailers, and in cars and trucks. Vehicles are adorned with flags, decals, and paint. People begin finding spots on campus to park and set up party central. And everyone is your friend (as long as they are wearing orange and blue). Greetings of ‘War Eagle’ are encountered at every turn.

The merriment increases in pitch and excitement until a few hours before the game when attention turns to the “Tiger Walk”. Aubie (pictured above), the coach and team walk through a long tunnel of feverishly excited fans all cheering “War Eagle” and trying to catch glimpses of the gladiators that will entertain them later that day.

The band plays outside the stadium until the time when they must prepare for the game and eventually people begin to file into the stadium. Jordan-Hare stadium (pronounced jerden hare, saying it wrong will get a chorus of corrections). It’s still 2 hours or so before the game and the student section fills up first. Everyone has orange and blue pompoms provided free and everyone knows how to use them during the fight song and as a visual accessory to the very loud cheers.

As game time approaches, the band takes the field and the crowd becomes even more excited.

For me, one of the most touching traditions actually began after I moved away. The eagle flight.

Because pictures often better convey the atmosphere, I have included an amateur video of the eagle flight and the team taking the field – this is our 2010 undefeated team that went on to win the National Championship.

You have probably seen enough college football to know the formula. Two quarters, halftime, two quarters…unless the game goes to overtime.

If you are in the student section, the only time you sit is during halftime. Well, you could sit during the game, but why would you? You wouldn’t be able to see anything other than other fans’ backsides. Everyone in the student section knows the words to the fight song and “Glory, Glory to Ole Auburn” (sung to the same tune as University of Georgia’s fight song). They also know all of the cheers.

The noise level rises and falls depending on the game. You see, Auburn fans actually go to the game to watch the action. They understand the plays, the penalties, and the nuances. They cheer louder when the defense is on the team and are much quieter when our offense is playing. The pompoms I mentioned earlier are used to cheer the team but also serve as a tool upon which to express one’s worries when the team is not doing as well.

If it is a wonderful day, Auburn wins and everyone leaves the stadium to begin the celebratory post-game parties and to ‘roll Toomers Corner’ (at some point in the future, I will post about that and the lovely old oak trees that an evil Alabama fan poisoned). However, even on a day in which Auburn loses, it is still “great to be an Auburn Tiger”.

So, to others who share my love for Auburn – War Damn Eagle!

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