Friday, September 02, 2005

let the tide rolling begin

I grew up in a fairly consistent Southern Baptist household. We would show up to church twice on Sunday and most Wednesdays, and we were generally good to hit the highlights on revival week. Dad would always fork over the required allotment when the offering plate was passed around, and he would donate some meat from his butcher shop when the church had its chicken stew suppers. He was also there cooking at the once a month pancake breakfasts and driving the bus to pick up inner city kids for Sunday school. The church had saltines and grape juice once a year while the Catholics partook of the real stuff, and then we washed each other's feet for some reason.

But if they had expected us to be there on Saturday we would have been atheists.

I'm not saying that football is bigger than religion in the South, but that is only because I don't want the Lord to strike down my team. There was no tacky picture of Jesus or crocheted biblical quote gracing our walls, but there was a picture of Bear Bryant.
use the force, joe namath
This is not it. This is not even Bear Bryant. The late Sir Alec Guinness will be portraying him here because I like this picture and because I am all powerful within the confines of this meager blog.

Bryant was actually quite different from Obi Wan and could probably kick the ass of any given Jedi without knocking his hound's-tooth hat askew. He drank like a fish and his deep and grizzled voice from chain-smoking Chesterfields could be heard in neighboring states, and it was perfectly acceptably for grown men to openly weep when he passed on January 26, 1983, less than a month after coaching his final game. Death dared not come for him until he was finished with football.

One of my earliest memories is the 1978 Sugar bowl, which pitted Bryant and the Tide against Woody Hayes and the Ohio State Buckeyes at the Louisiana Superdome. I was three, and I sat and watched it on the couch with my dad.
My dad is normally a very low-key guy with the occasional hint of a dry sense of humor, and he is certainly the last place you would look for an outburst of emotion. Friends would want to check for a pulse when they came over.

However, for those two to three hours in which Alabama pounded the Buckeyes 35-6 to go on and win the national championship he wildly exploded for each touchdown or sack, knocking over the coffee table every time and leaving our shag carpet a thick stew of potato chips, coke, barbecueeque. It was like a scene from Awakenings, and it both frightened me and instilled a love for Alabama football.

I'm heading down to Tuscaloosa this weekend with my dad to continue our tradition of making every Alabama home opener. Mrs. Camino is coming along, and she will be sporting MTSU paraphernalia while I have no choice but to root against our alma mater. To pull for the opponent of Alabama would be the ultimate sacrilege, and I would be no better than a godless vegetarian ACLU attorney in the eyes of my homeland.
The only thing worse than that is a Vol fan.
UPDATE: Many of the relief organizations will have donation sites set up at each of the games this weekend, and I know from spending two years in Knoxville that even fans of the "evil empire" are kind and giving when someone is in need. There are many refugees from New Orleans currently residing in Tuscaloosa, and any donations taken there this Saturday can help directly.


Blogger Short and Fat said...

Enjoy your trip, Rex.

A little fun with statistics: Shula is 0 for 9 in games decided by 9 pts or less.

I guess that means Little Middle is gonna have to get blown out.

7:02 PM  
Blogger Rex L. Camino said...

Shula is so good at the heartbreakingly close game that I fear Vanderbilt may someday try and take him from us.

I had noticed that stat before. There was also a string of demoralizing overtime losses, but I blame their lack of a good second or third string QB on most of those.

Kudos to Vandy for staring off on the right foot.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Glen Dean said...

Vol fans are bad, but there is nothing, and I mean nothing, worse than an Auburn fan. ROLL TIDE ROLL!
Great Post.

4:31 PM  
Blogger Rex L. Camino said...

Thanks, Glen.

I thought the same thing about Auburn fans while growing up in Alabama, but quickly changed my mind when Mrs. Camino got into grad school at UT and we moved to Knoxville for a couple of years. Luckily, she came to hate the Vol football team as well.

But I do still hate Auburn, and I took great pleasure in listening to them lose while driving back from Tuscaloosa last night.

11:17 AM  

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