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Beating Tide is business as usual


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Beating Tide is business as usual for Tuberville

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Cliff Hare and Ralph Jordan have their names on the stadium.

Pat Dye now has his name on the field.

What's left to name after Tommy Tuberville?

The once and future Auburn football coach has staked a claim to something more precious than a large building or a prime piece of real estate.

He owns Alabama. The school and the state.

It won't hurt his feelings if his property never bears his name.

What does it mean to the third Auburn football coach to win four straight games over Alabama?

It means dodging the postgame revelers on the field, jogging from one section of delirious fans to another, waving a white towel with one hand and raising four fingers overhead with the other.

Two years ago, after Auburn fired Tuberville before the Iron Bowl but forgot to tell him, some people around here didn't seem to care that he won this game in this place.

Two years later, after Auburn 28, Alabama 18, after Tuberville 3, Mike Shula 0, nothing else seemed to matter as much.

Not the inside track to a top-10 ranking and a trip to the Capital One Bowl. Not the outside shot at a return trip to the SEC Championship Game and no worse than a share of a fifth Western Division title in six years. Not 24 Auburn wins in the past 26 Auburn games.

``Not many players who played here at Auburn can say they never lost a game to their in-state rival," Tuberville said. ``That's pretty special to be able to say that."

How special? Ask Auburn senior nose guard Tommy Jackson. In his words, ``I've got bragging rights for the rest of my life."

Not so Tuberville, who has to come back next year to try to match Jordan's Auburn record of five straight Iron Bowl victories. But not many Auburn coaches can say they were given an upper hand on Alabama and didn't hand it back.

The NCAA may have put Alabama on probation three years ago, but it's Auburn that keeps putting Alabama in its place.

It was fitting that this game, the first played on Pat Dye Field, played out this way. The Alabama defense brought the hype, but the Auburn defense brought the pain with a ridiculous 11 sacks.

The rival that never wanted to come to Auburn until Dye insisted found another reason not to come back.

Don't be fooled by the final score. This is Shula's best team. It isn't Tuberville's. Yet the gap between the Tide and the Tigers looked wider than ever after the first quarter.

It took Alabama two months to take the national spotlight away from Auburn. It took Auburn 15 minutes to take it back.

By the end of the 21-0 first quarter, the best team in the state and maybe the league had re-established itself. Is there any way the SEC can let Auburn and LSU meet again in a real championship game?

At his Tuesday press conference, Tuberville had joked about staying at Auburn for 17 years. That would keep him here for another decade.

At least, Alabama has to hope he was joking. When it comes to the Iron Bowl, the Auburn coach is all business.

And business is better than ever.


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:cheer: How sweet it is!! :cheer:

It's great to be an :au: Tiger!!

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