John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
The Alabama Crimson Tide’s rivalry with the Auburn Tigers is arguably the greatest in college football due to the intensity of the partisans on either side, even more than the competition on the field.
On the field, there have been numerous classic contests in the series when both teams are at their best, and streaks of dominance by both schools at one time or another. The quality of play has been unquestioned for years now; the BCS National Championship trophy hasn’t left the state of Alabama in four years, and might remain there in 2014 as well.
Off the field, the hatred is at an all-time high. The Harvey Updyke saga has brought embarrassing attention to the state’s fans, and media coverage has turned a popular tradition among Tiger faithful into a holy sacrament.
Therefore, in the interests of creating a more civil discourse among the faithful on both sides, we have a modest proposal.
It’s time to end the Alabama-Auburn rivalry.
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Before you get up in arms, it’s important to remember that this wouldn’t be the first time a truce has been called. The rivalry was suspended in 1907 after the schools couldn’t come to agreement over player expenses and disputes about officiating. If you ask most fans on the street, paying players and bad officiating are the main sources of bad blood even today.
In the decades where no game was played between the schools, attempts were made to reconstitute the rivalry, but the tension remained until it was eventually resumed in 1948.
The rivalry has been great for fans of both schools, as bragging rights among the faithful last all year long, and are passed down through generations. But for the schools themselves, it’s a lopsided bargain.
For Alabama, there is almost no benefit to playing Auburn. Winning the game is expected among their fans, and losing is tantamount to career suicide. For Auburn meanwhile, the very name Iron Bowl implies that beating Alabama is the ultimate goal. It’s a parasitic relationship, in that Alabama puts more into it than it gets out.
Auburn fans continually raise concerns that Alabama cheats, while their Tigers play with honor and a Creed, no matter how many scandals or bodies pile up. If this is truly the case, as opposed to excuse-making by the Auburn Men of all stripes, you would think they would be eager to distance themselves from such a wretched hive of scum and villainy.
The solution? Send Auburn to the SEC East, where their rivalry against Georgia would take on greater significance, and the teams would only face each other in the SEC Championship game or on the years when the Tigers rotate into Alabama’s regular schedule.
Or perhaps allow the Tigers to head to the ACC, where they would get to face Clemson to determine who the are best Tigers in the Southeast; the ones with the lake, or the ones without.
Auburn fans no doubt feel their team is the one with more honor, tradition and might. Let’s put that to the test. End the rivalry, send the rivals on their own paths, and let’s find out which team thrives without the other.