Roundtable of Tigers Past: The Iron Bowl
Yeah, these roundtables disappeared after the LSU game, but it had nothing to do with that. The boys are growing up and getting older and they’re a little bit more busy these days. But in the spirit of the Iron Bowl, I was able to wrangle three of them out of machine and get some thoughts. Well, Cole Cubelic and Kodi Burns gave some thoughts. Andrew McCain wrote Pulitzer-worthy novels.
What is your favorite Iron Bowl as a player, and as a spectator, and why?
Cole: As a player, 1998. Being a kid from Maison D’ville in Homewood, Alabama & not an Auburn or Alabama fan growing up, Legion Field was exactly what was written on the upper deck…”The Football Capital of the South.” So to be there as a starter in an Auburn uniform meant the world to me. As a spectator, 2010.
Kodi: Favorite Iron Bowl as a player was 2010 “The Comeback” it was special because of the the senior leadership we had on that team. People wrote us off during the second quarter but our team and the Auburn Family believed.
As a spectator it was the “Kick Six.” Just when I thought I had seen it all the previous week against Georgia, there goes Davis down the sidelines. Was an awesome feeling to be apart of that.
Andrew: I sat on my ass on a football field once in my life. That day was November 27, 2009. My brothers and I had just fought our hearts out in effort to beat #1 ranked, undefeated Alabama. At 6’6″, 320lbs I was a kid who didn’t want to leave that field. I sat in the very endzone, on the very same grass where my small dream was born. I, to this day, am sorry that I didn’t give Auburn what Auburn deserved that day. Auburn deserved to win. Auburn deserved to overcome. Auburn deserved to knock off Alabama. I didn’t get it done. I tried. My God WE tried, but we failed.
AUBURN LOVED US ANYWAY. Upon that realization, I was forever changed.
What makes the Iron Bowl special to you?
Cole: It means so much because it means the most. It’s the biggest sporting event of the year for both fan bases.
Kodi: Iron Bowl means a lot to you as a player because you know how much it means to the Auburn family.
Andrew: What makes this week special? I’ll try to explain, if you have a second.
Most of us have spent a great many moments of our lives trying to stand for something greater than ourselves. I now see that many of us never realize what it is like to truly sacrifice for a cause bigger than ourselves until we have had a wife or a husband or a daughter or a son. Until we have lost someone we love or been forced to dig deeper than we thought possible. In November of 1993, I was fortunate enough, thanks to my father and a like minded group of men in blue jerseys, to witness a moment that took hold of my heart in such a way that it made me want to work towards a goal that, in retrospect, was as important as it was arbitrary. A legacy that was as forgettable as it was monumental.
You see, a whole lot of the important things we do in life are considered minuscule when measured by masses. The moments that change one’s perspective on a relationship, or a game, or a family or a friendship, those moments may seem fleeting to an outsider. I was often David slinging stones at Goliath in the basement of my house made of glass. Looking back, I realize that. Still, I argue, those moments that demand the most of us in our present state, the moments that reveal our true character, whether in family or work, in sport or art or battle, those are the moments that define us. Those are the moments that offer greatness. But greatness is an opportunity. It’s not a promise. It’s a goal, not a guarantee.
What’s it like going into the Iron Bowl as an underdog?
Cole: I never looked at any game that way. I was focused on what needed to be done to win the game.
Kodi: You go into the Iron Bowl expecting to be an underdog because you always will be. That’s what makes the game special. Nobody will ever give you a chance but within the team and within the Auburn Family we always knew we could win.
Andrew: I have lived most of my life as a guy in between. I was an above average athlete and a pretty smart kid. I was never the fastest or the strongest. Still, I feel as if I was born on third base. I never pretended that I hit a triple. I know that. Thanks to some wise guidance and transferred perspective, here’s what I try to do: I fight, because someone else is not able. I love, because someone else needs to be cared for. I cry and I hug but I clinch my fist and fight battles on behalf of what I have come to believe in. I have come to believe in truthfulness. In the human touch. In work, hard work. Because Auburn men and women believe in these things, I have come to believe in Auburn.
What is Auburn? Auburn is not about what one sees through a telescope. The view from afar has never quite captured us. Auburn is about what is found beneath a magnifying glass. Look closely. Take your time. Look at the third generation hand-me-down shirt worn by the fraternity brother who shelves his Greek duties because his heart won’t let him miss Tiger Walk. Look at the Ag student who has saved a tailgate spot every week since August because she craves those moments with her family. Look at the girl who, at 22, still cries tears through the AU sticker on her cheek when her Tigers fall short. She used to care because her dad did. Now, she might care more than him.
Look at the professor who canceled class on Friday because it’s just that time of year. Look at the father, class of ’92. Look at the son, class of 2018. Look at the mother. Look at the daughter. Look at the game day t-shirt from Tiger Rags and the Costco bag full of toilet paper just in case. Look at all of that. Look at that, and you’ll see me.
Humbly before you as a kid that believes. Confidently before you as a man that knows what it takes to win. Hungry before you as an Auburn Tiger that HATES to lose. Look at these things, and I hope you see Auburn. I hope when you see Auburn, you still see me.
What needs to happen for Auburn to beat Alabama this Saturday?
Cole: Must be balanced on offense. Must stretch the field vertically. Must keep Derrick Henry in check.
Kodi: Alabama is very sound and has lots of NFL talent. Auburn needs to simply play their game and have fun. The rest will take care of itself. There is always a chance in the Iron Bowl no matter what the records say.
Andrew: This week, I know a couple things to be true:
First: on Saturday, we have a tall task on our hands. That’s ok. We’re Auburn. Ask Pat Sullivan, Terry Beasley, Shug Jordan, Pat Dye, Randy Campbell, Bo Jackson, Stan White, Pat Nix, Carnell Williams, Cam Newton and countless others what being a favorite in the Iron Bowl feels like. Chances are, they don’t know.
Second: That’s what makes this week great. That’s what makes Auburn great. The people that came long before I did. The guys in the blue jerseys. The campus full of red brick buildings and all the people that have ever walked there and learned there and taught there. The people that have cheered there and loved there and hurt there. Those people made Auburn great. They continue to do so.
Let’s go beat Bama’s ass on Saturday. Walk into the ring like a man with a personal vendetta. Run the ball off tackle and stretch the field vertically. Hit them in the mouth until the white flag waves. Choose to be great. Come through where I couldn’t. You see, If you win on Saturday, I have won. We have all won. That’s how Family works.
Young men, I challenge you: give Auburn what Auburn deserves, and never forget, it’s ALWAYS better to be Auburn.