Former Tiger fullback Carl Stewart shares his thoughts on toxic fan negativity
by Carl Stewart
First, I have to say that I’m proud of what this team has accomplished so far, and I’m optimistic that it will finish off these final two games strong. At the beginning of the season, there was so much uncertainty surrounding this team that most people, including myself, didn’t know what to think.
When Bo Nix earned the starting job, Auburn became the talk of the nation. A highly touted true freshman with limitless potential and undoubtedly the nation’s best defense gave all of us a lot of hope.
Then, the Tigers went out and beat a tough Oregon team that nobody gave them a chance against. It was at that point the expectations for this team shot through the roof. I don’t use social media much, but the excitement and national championship buzz was palpable from alumni on my friends list.
At last the “Fire Gus” chants from last season had stopped, and this team was given a chance to prove itself. The Auburn fan base showed why they are regarded as the best in college football by feverishly supporting this team and showing why we are truly the Auburn Family.
Then everything went horribly wrong. First, it was the loss to Florida and then a devastating loss to LSU, both on their home fields. For many people, it may be easy to forget, but going into “The Swamp” and then “Death Valley” is a tall task for any team... Trust me I’ve been there.
The Auburn faithful on my timeline changed, and the things that I saw people posting were very disheartening. The situation had gotten so bad that the players were taking notice and going to Twitter in an effort to convince their own fans to cut out the negativity and stand by them.
The final straw for me came after the loss to Georgia at home. Not only were the Auburn “faithful” abandoning the team, but they also took opportunities to attack individual players while others simply gave up on the entire season (“at least we’ve got basketball” was the most common thing I saw).
I was happy to see that instead of giving up, this team fought until the very end of that game.
We all have a right to be upset that the season isn’t going the way we had hoped and that shows that we are passionate. But we shouldn’t forget that these are young men that have given their blood, sweat, and tears for the opportunity to represent us.
I’m not going to address what changes, if any, should be made about the coaching staff, because there are people with far more knowledge than me tasked with making those decisions. I do know that we all have the ultimate goal of winning, so we shouldn’t doubt the coach’s desire to reach that goal.
Most importantly, these kids are under a tremendous amount of pressure, and they hear all the negativity from fans. It only adds stress to their lives and makes it much more difficult to go out and just play the game they love.
As fans, we hold our players to a higher standard and want them to be tough through anything and not give up the fight (hell it’s in the fight song). But we also need that same mentality and must hold ourselves to a higher standard.
Regardless of whether things are going good or bad, we should strive to stick with the team and leave the negativity to the other fans. We are the Auburn Family and, as such, we need to stick together.