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My trip to Alabama


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She Said: Adventures in Alabama – a Preview



USCFootball.com Staff Writer

While many of you Trojan fans will not enter the great state of Alabama before Labor Day weekend, your fellow Trojan here just completed 6 days in southern Alabama. Those of us raised in California hardly think about any other beaches than our own. But, Alabama offers a gem of a gulf coast, known as Gulf Shores. So, I thought I would share with you my experience in Alabama this past week.

Probably to the delight of Auburn fans, my vacation took me from New Orleans to the shores of the Gulf Coast deep in Alabama. A mystery to most Californians who think north of the airport is a separate state, I happen to have a working familiarity with the South, both from this trip and a visit to Gulf Shores, AL six years ago.

First, let me dispel any rumors about the fine state of Alabama. While many of you think the state sits permanently in the path of hurricanes and is wrought with backwards ways, or even people, you should be corrected. The Deep South is rooted in a tradition far deeper than college football.

My in-laws, driving with their Missouri plates, were actually referred to as a “border state”. Anytime you refer to the Civil War Mason-Dixon line as a point of geographic reference, you are still caught up in a different rivalry - one where Yankees were not a baseball team. And, just like wearing your college gear, Southerns still show their undying admiration for this rivalry. Most souvenir stores feature what I like to call “the Rebel section”. Confederate flags on your car, T-Shirt, or bathing suit is a must.

Since I had been to Alabama before, I cannot believe I also forgot another important detail about the state – alcohol cannot be purchased on Sundays so that we may preserve the holy day of rest…or, at least, that is what I came up with as a good excuse. This may be a dignified way to feel better about the fact that you are likely still going to drink and smoke on Sunday; a rule has been designed so that at the very least, you can’t easily get your hands on the “evil potion”.

Fortunately for me, being on vacation without alcohol seemed like a fate worse than death. That, and the fact that I sent my offering envelopes in ahead of time for all the church I would miss, I naturally felt entitled to find a way around this rule. So, a quick five miles down the road puts you at an infamous bar known as the Flora-Bama, aptly named for its location straddling the state line of both Florida and Alabama. Here, on Sunday, myself and other sinners waited in line, purchased our alcohol, and all was resolved.

Now, all kidding aside about the deep South, I found the college football fans that greeted us down there to be of the same caliber as most of the posters on this website, if not even more classy than I remember from last year’s meeting of SC and Auburn.

First thing to note, Auburn fans, you do seem outnumbered in your state. A vast majority of cars we passed all touted “Roll Tide” stickers. Tide T-Shirts, etc were in abundance. I did want to pull up along side them and say “rather than Roll Tide, why didn’t you guys think of rolling your coach out of the strip club and the tide that ensued from that”, but that is an old joke. Still funny, though!

I also noticed the Tide sitting in Mobile, AL eating some of the best tasting ribs in the country at Dreamland Ribs. Most Alabama folks know this eatery. We, of course, had on our SC hats, and definitely got the stares! While eating at Dreamland, we noticed the Mobile press definitely favors Alabama over Auburn. After reading an article that basically stated that Auburn was a weak team that was fooling themselves with all these high rankings, I felt for the Auburn faithful. I had to reread the writers name to make sure it wasn’t T.J. Simers.

Next, I happen to agree with Auburn fans on their stated belief that weather will affect our team. Those of you who say it will not, have never been in the state of Alabama in the middle of August and you are grossly underestimating the humidity.

First, you cannot just feel the air; you can see it, because it immediately fogs your sunglasses. Don’t bother putting on any outfit you don’t expect to change four times before the end of the day. This weather, my Trojan friends, is a factor.

When I first visited Alabama six years ago, a lot of things were different about me and my ability to handle weather. First, I was six years younger (duh!). Second, I traveled there from Denver, Colorado, where altitude is as much of a factor as weather. I used to run or walk several miles in this weather. I did a hike in 13,000 feet of altitude (of course, I won’t tell you that afterwards I was so light headed I had to sleep in the car until I was able to make it to the local KFC where I downed a 2 piece meal with the voraciousness of a rottweiler).

Still, being that I believed I had survived much worse – I set out on a long walk my first day in Alabama. By the time I walked down the street, I was so uncomfortable, and hot, and dehydrated that I almost just lay down right in the middle of the street. Auburn fans reading this are undoubtedly shaking their heads in agreement. No matter what I did to get comfortable – the only thing that alleviated the pounding heat headache I had was 2 aspirin, air conditioning and a beer.

Now, as a fan, I will probably be equipped with the same remedies in two weeks (only I need about 3 aspirin now to make a dent, many beers will be involved, and one of those small fans that spray water on you). Our team, however, will not. Do not count weather out in this one.

And, some woman who can’t take the slightest temperature change does not write this. I stayed through the entire second half of the 1999 Notre Dame game where it rained almost the whole time without a poncho or an umbrella. I have watched eight innings of a St. Louis Cardinals game in near freezing weather. If I lived in Green Bay, I would be in that stadium in November with a cheese hat and a tank top on.

So for me to say that weather can influence a game, I have some perspective.

The next thing I noticed about Alabama, and namely, the Auburn natives, was just how spirited and enjoyable the fans of Auburn are. Some folks didn’t say anything when we were walking around with our SC gear on (they might have been wondering if we got the date wrong and were a little early), but many of them gave us a smile.

But, some fans actually came up to us. While at the Waffle House – a place where you need to distinguish whether or not you want “country ham” or “city ham” with your eggs – a couple of people stopped to talk to us. The first Auburn fan said, in the greatest southern accent, “you sure are brave walking around with that hat on, what with all the hot coffee in here that could accidentally get ya!”

Another fan noticed the uscfootball.com T-Shirt that my husband was wearing. He asked us if we were going to the game. He talked about players, positions, which team is stronger in what areas, etc. He told us that he came out to the game at the Coliseum and told us why we would enjoy the Auburn stadium and atmosphere so much. In the politest way possible, he stammered as he tried to explain how the Coliseum is different, “I mean, I don’t know quite how to put this, but your stadium is, ah…” We replied, “Our stadium is in the hood, right?” He laughed – it was clear that his Southern manners were keeping him from stating what we SC fans know and love.

Auburn fans have a very classy way about them, a genuine excitement and spirit for the game, and significant knowledge about their team. Trojan fans that will join Ryan, me, and company at Auburn, please show these fans the respect they deserve.

I welcome the match up of the best of Southern California and the best of the South. When you leave for Atlanta, make sure to don your SC gear. You will meet a lot of nice Auburn fans that way and it will remind you why you love college football. That feeling of loyalty and spirit for your team will be alive and well in two weeks.

If you can’t tell, I am already counting the days until this match up. The long drought of football-less Saturdays (and Sundays too) is over. This is what we have all been talking about the last month. USC will face Auburn. Number 8 will take on Number 6. Pac-10 meets SEC. It’s Christmas Eve. Let the countdown begin.

Are you ready for some football???? See you in 12 days!!!!!!

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