monday, december 02, 2013

The 2013 Iron Bowl

"The only way to get something to turn up when you need it is to need it to turn up." - Terry Prachett

As the arc of the football neared the goalpost it would never reach and met the awaiting arms of the kick returner it all seemed so... inevitable. Awful but absolutely inevitable. And that was the worst part.

The beauty of watching college football is the ineffable sense of possibility — that this will be the series the defense will make their stand, this will be the play that will turn the odds, this is where everything will be put right. Once that next play starts everything slides with a terrifying quickness from possible, into the probable and finally solidifies into the blunt incontrovertible fact.

Fortune's cruelest blows involve an awful sense of powerlessness. It's always there, of course, but these are the moments you can actually feel it and recognize its power. That poignancy isn't possible when the outcome is never in doubt. Blowouts lack drama. On the field anyway. It might get ugly at the airport on the way home. read more

posted by kleph @ 6:00 pm | comments

wednesday, february 16, 2011

Why Toomer's Corner is Important

The Iron Bowl is the one time each and every season an Alabama fan cannot hold anything in reserve. It is the game you are completely invested in no matter whether you think the Crimson Tide are a lock to win or have hardly a chance at all.

As a result, the outcome of the game is marked by the most extreme of emotions by the faithful. Some years Alabama wins and I enjoy the most delightful rush of ecstasy and joy that lingers with me for weeks on end. Some years Alabama loses and I'm crushed emotionally and physically, left in a dour mood that takes at least a fortnight to shake.

No matter what, when the game ends it's over. Until next year...

Harvey Updyke couldn't wait till next year. When Alabama fell to Auburn last November he felt the formidable sting of the loss and instead of accepting it and rising to the challenge it presented -- which is what we ask of the players -- he chose to strike back in the most destructive manner he could think of. read more

posted by kleph @ 11:00 pm | 0 comments

friday, january 14, 2011

Kleph Looks Back on the 2010 Season

With the fall of confetti to the field at the University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale on Monday, the 2010 college football season has come to a bittersweet close.

It has been one hell of a memorable season for me. In the course of the last three-and-a-half months I've been able to see no less than 15 football games (including 12 college contests) involving 24 different teams. I've traveled to five separate states and seen games in nine different stadiums.

That's more football in general and Alabama football in particular than I've ever been able to see live and in person over the course of a single season in my entire life. And it was a blast from start to finish. During the course of it all I endured my team suffering two painful losses. Weirdly, this only made the experience that much more meaningful. read more

posted by kleph @ 12:00 am | 0 comments

monday, december 06, 2010

A Few Thoughts on Alabama's 2010 Regular Season

It’s not the will to win that matters. Everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters. – Paul W. Bryant

There are few times in my long love affair with Alabama football that have been as painful and disheartening as the end of this year’s Iron Bowl. To see a team this talented come that close to victory and squander it away simply stung in a way few loses over the years ever have. It’s not a game that will or should be forgotten anytime soon.

Which makes it a little odd that I find myself not only optimistic about this team in particular, but in a pretty good mood about the state of the Crimson Tide nation in general. And to understand why you need to start with Coach Saban’s book, “How Good Do You Want to Be?read more

posted by kleph @ 5:00 am | 0 comments

monday, november 29, 2010

Auburn vs Alabama Gameday

First and foremost, even three days since this game I'm still wincing from the thought of it. The 75th Iron Bowl was not the Crimson Tide's greatest moment on the gridiron. Pretty much all our hopes for the 2010 season went "POOF!" in the second half of the game at the hands of our greatest rivals. In some ways, the lost to Louisiana-Monroe in 2007 stung less.

But this blog is about the experience of attending these games. And as godawful as the outcome o the contest was, the atmosphere leading up to this game was one of the most electric I've had the pleasure of experiencing in Tuscaloosa.

The students were at the gates five hours before kickoff for seats. Given the weather -- temperatures in the low 40s and dropping with intermittent rain -- not to mention the likelihood of hangovers this was an impressive level of dedication. I offered a heartfelt "Roll Tide" in support but then hurried on to find a warmer location to wait for the game. read more

posted by kleph @ 5:00 am | 0 comments

friday, november 19, 2010

Georgia State vs Alabama Gameday

Due to a series of scheduling quirks, Alabama was playing on Thursday night this week. It was the first Thursday contest for the Crimson Tide since 2001 when a matchup with Southern Mississippi was moved back due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The foe this week was Georgia State, whose football team was in its inaugural year under former Crimson Tide head coach Bill Curry.

My mom, who is from Atlanta, was incredulous this summer when I told her Alabama was playing the Panthers. Her brother, a Georgia grad who follows college football pretty casually if at all, simply didn't believe her when he was told last week. But, yes, it was true and Georgia State fans were on hand in T-town to prove it. read more

posted by kleph @ 5:00 am | 0 comments

monday, november 15, 2010

Mississippi State vs Alabama Gameday

I returned to Tuscaloosa in the wake of the LSU game to an Alabama fanbase oddly distracted from the next SEC West matchup. The aspirations of an SEC Championship and possibly even more were dashed in Baton Rouge and, for the most part, the enthusiasm for football seems to have waned significantly in comparison to my visit in September.

Interestingly, this feels similar to the 1986 season when I was a student at Alabama. An undefeated run and aspirations of post-season success were dashed after a loss to Penn State. The Tide went into a tailspin that year, I was hoping history wouldn't repeat in that respect. read more

posted by kleph @ 3:00 am | 0 comments

monday, november 08, 2010

Alabama vs LSU Gameday

Now my family is originally from Louisiana and I grew up in the state. So LSU fandom is something I like to think I know a bit about. I've got a healthy respect for the more colorful aspects of the experience but an ample amount of caution for it's less redeeming qualities. So I was pretty excited about going to this game.

I stayed with my cousins in Loreauville near New Iberia the week before the game. It is sugar cane harvesting season in Iberia Parish and the tractors hauling the cut cane to the mill are on the roads from first light. On gameday I got up really early to get out before they descended en masse and made my journey a little more perilous from the start than I would like. read more

posted by kleph @ 5:00 am | 0 comments

monday, september 13, 2010

Alabama vs Penn State Gameday

I was out the door by 8 a.m., and it was clear that it was gonna be a hot one in T-town. The heat and humidity were already significant and the bright sun only promised more of the same as the day progressed.

My first stop was the Walk of Champions in front of Bryant-Denny Stadium where ESPN's College GameDay was set up. Sure enough, there was a decent crowd of people present and doing their best to get their signage and banners on the TeeVee.

A lot of the folks were clearly from the nearby fraternity and sororities but there were a number of tents about the grassy areas where the die-hards had waited overnight.

As entertaining as the people-watching promised to be, I knew it would be wise to take the sweltering weather in increments throughout the day. So I headed up the strip to Egan's to enjoy the air conditioning and hold down the corner of the bar in case anyone wanted to meet a quasi-famous blogging celebrity. This plan went awry the second I walked in the door since it was scarcely cooler inside than on the street.
read more

posted by kleph @ 8:00 am | 0 comments

wednesday, september 08, 2010

Returning to Tuscaloosa

Tuscaloosa holds a really strange place in my memory. The map in my mind isn't simply a quarter-century out of date, its landmarks tend to be tied more strongly to emotion and image than anything having to do with reality. And juxtaposing that mental map with the existing reality of streets and structures can be disorienting to say the least.

Wandering around last night with some friends they pointed out the former location of a number of haunts I remember vividly. But my memory is of the interiors and events (and those tend to be alcohol-enhanced more often than not), assembling them in a geographic manner that has any relation with this city's current arrangement is impossible.

Still, as odd as the sense of place may be geographically, it certainly isn't socially. The same types of folks I remember from my days haunting the nooks and crannies of this little town seem to still be here -- for better and for worse. read more

posted by kleph @ 8:00 am | 0 comments