Roll Tide Roll
Why I'll be cheering for 'Bama
I'm really torn over who to root for in tonight's big national championship game.
I've lived in Texas for a long time, but some of my formative years were spent in Mobile, Alabama, where our family gathered around the TV set every Saturday to watch the Crimson Tide roll over opponents. The next day, in the fellowship hall before church, my parents and their friends dissected every play in the game.
If the team won, they'd say, "Our boys sure did play well."
If they didn't, they'd lament, "Our boys didn't look too good yesterday."
But they would optimistically aim for the next week and, in the church sanctuary, pray for a 'Bama win. God and football were always intertwined.
My mom's claim to fame is that she had one date with legendary Alabama coach Paul "Bear" Bryant when he played football at "The University." He was a senior; she was a freshman. She told us, "They called him Bear, but he was a wolf."
As children, my sister and I always giggled when she said that, although we weren't quite sure what she meant.
In Alabama, college football is everything. There are no professional teams, so most families divide into two camps — they're either for Alabama or Auburn. Our family became fractured when two of my cousins opted to go to Auburn. But their brother went to Alabama, so all was not lost. At his wedding a couple of years ago, the DJ played the Lynyrd Skynyrd anthem, "Sweet Home Alabama," and he and his friends all shouted "Roll, Tide, Roll" during the refrain.
As an adult, I haven't been as enamoured with the game, although I still have the TV on during the fall when Southeastern Conference games are broadcast. The SEC rivalries — Alabama-Auburn, Florida-Georgia, Mississippi State-Ole Miss — make the Texas-Texas A&M slugfest look like kindergarten play.
College football has lost some of its allure because now it's become just another big business with overpaid executives. Alabama lured Nick Saban from the Miami Dolphins with a $32 million eight-year contract. After Saban signed to coach the Tide in 2007, a USA Today headline read, "Alabama: 45th in helping kids, No. 1 in paying coach," which shows where their priorities lie. But Texas is no paragon of virtue. Longhorn head coach Mack Brown's contract was recently upped to over $5 million a year.
Even so, when the Crimson Tide rolls into the Rose Bowl, I will be cheering them on. Think about it this way: If Texas loses, most of the Lone Star state won't really care. If 'Bama loses, everyone except a handful of diehard Auburn fans in that state will go into mourning until next September, when a new season starts up again.
But win or lose, Alabama fans will still be proud of "our boys."