Iron Bowl: Wall Street Journal Makes an Appeal to Auburn


John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

After Alabama’s convincing victory over LSU, The Wall Street Journal’s Rachel Bachman, a Michigan graduate, used the newspaper’s Down and Distance column to write an open letter to Auburn coach Gus Malzahn entitled “Hey Auburn, You’re Our Last Chance.” In the article, Bachman asserted that Auburn might be the last chance to stop Alabama from a third consecutive national title.

Alabama and coach Saban are not strangers to the national media and the article is good press for both programs and, without saying as much, a compliment to the state of Alabama. At a glance, it might look odd for a writer in the nation’s largest newspaper to write an article directed toward the first year Auburn coach. Writers write. Readers read. In the digital age, it’s all about the clicks. There’s nothing more to it than that. Alabama and Auburn fans will devour anything that mentions their teams. Click click click.

The Wall Street Journal writes, primarily, about business and economics but covers a variety of other subjects as well. College football is big money, so it makes perfect sense to write about it.What doesn’t make sense, business sense, is calling success “tedious.” There is nothing tedious about building a winning program and making millions of dollars playing a game that is loved by millions. Successful programs, like Alabama, give educations to hundreds of players who won’t go to the NFL. College football equips most of them to win off the field.

There is a trend, more in the U.S. than elsewhere, of being ashamed of wealth. As a culture, we have embraced mediocrity and tried to relabel it as excellence. It’s a disturbing trend that transcends our society through politics, media and, now, sports. Each year, pundits latch onto an underdog team and proclaim them to be contenders. Each year, these teams without a pedigree stumble along the way. There is nothing wrong with winning, especially when you work hard to be the best at what you do. Alabama fans are not ashamed of success and, despite reports to the contrary, we are not bored with it either.

Bachman goes on to say that Coach Malzahn needs to take back the state of Alabama. It’s true that the Tigers have had measurable success in the recent past but in 120 years of football, Auburn has only bested Alabama in two decades – the 1890s and the first decade of this century. The teams split the 1950s and did not play each other between 1907 and 1948. After swapping leads in the series during the early years, Alabama has led the series since 1965. Coach Malzahn would need more than a letter in the Wall Street Journal to take back the state of Alabama. He would need a Tardis.

This year’s Iron Bowl is unique in history. Alabama enters the game ranked #1 and Auburn has climbed the ranks to reach #4 in the nation making the 2013 edition of the Iron Bowl the highest composite ranking matchup in series history. It is a home game for Auburn and, at home, they are formidable. Auburn fans are loyal and loud, as they should be, and they love this year’s team. Alabama is picked to prevail, and the favorite almost always wins in this series, but nobody should ever take a game lightly. No one should ever be ashamed of success either.

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