Mid-August. The fresh-cut grass produces a distinctive smell that always takes me back to Dermond Field. It’s football season! I am reminded of raiding my dad’s dresser for a t-shirt that I’ll use as a practice jersey. Football is back.
Football season in Philadelphia is a five-month holiday season. With it comes the quest for the Lombardi Trophy and of course your fantasy lineup. However, let’s not overlook the greatness of Saturday football. I’m talking about College Football.
Saturday mornings start off with one of the best shows, College Gameday. School visits, unknown player stories, clever signs, guest pickers, the “WAZZU” flag in the background, and of course Lee Corso picking the mascot head. Marching bands and the pageantry of college football is unmatched. Go south and visit the SEC schools during a rivalry game and you’ll forever be hooked. College football isn’t just a southern thing. Just look:
The best part of college football is by far the Rivalries. Nothing beats the build-up and smack talk associated with college football rivalries. Here I’m going to suggest two college football rivalry games that you should make a point to try to go to.
The Iron Bowl: Alabama vs. Auburn
The state of Alabama revolves around College Football and this deep-rooted rivalry splits the State of Alabama every year. The first game was played on February 22nd, 1893 at Lakeview Park in Birmingham in front of 5000 fans. Auburn, then known as Agriculture & Mechanical College, won 32-22. Alabama holds the 46-36-1 advantage and has the longest streak of 9 wins.
Coaches have lost their jobs for not being able to beat the other team. Going 3-8 is acceptable, so long as one of the teams you beat is the in-state rival. While this is a slight exaggeration, it really isn’t. Winning the Iron Bowl turns around a sub-par season. This game gives bragging rights for 364 days of the year. And trust me, the winning fans let the losers know it.
Bo Over the Top:
The rivalry has its own language. Most Alabamians know who Phyllis from Mulga is. Phrases like “Bo over the top” “Punt Bama Punt” and “Kick Six,” are trump cards of the Auburn faithful. Bama fans counter with the amount of National Championships, Kenny Stabler’s run, “Wrong Way Bo,” and “the Kick.” Bama also claims that Auburn is their little brother. What is impressive is that either Bama or Auburn has played in 9 out of the last 10 national championship games.
Punt Bama Punt:
Having lived in Auburn Alabama for five years, I was fortunate to go to 5 Iron Bowls….. as an Auburn Fan. It is an awesome time. The chants of Roll Tide are answered with an equally loud War Eagle. The RVs start arriving on Monday morning before the game and stay all week. It is the best week of the year in Alabama. Throw out the records, the game is usually competitive.
The announcers don’t hide their loyalties and they shouldn’t. The game isn’t just a game. It is a way of life. As an Auburn fan, I was fortunate to be able to listen to Auburn radio. Auburn lost the voice of the Tigers this year. Rod Bramlett and his wife tragically passed. In honor of Rod, here is one last video in what Rod himself called his greatest call, Kick Six:
The Army-Navy game:
One of the best rivalries in all of sports started on November 29, 1890. Navy won the first contest 24-0. The traditions and pageantry of the Army-Navy game are unmatched. The academy students march out on the field prior to every game. Generals and Admirals line the sidelines. Cannon fire to celebrate a score or mark a kickoff, and the fact that every player will put their life on the line to protect all the viewers. It is an event that you have to witness.
I am an Army veteran and attended the Infantry Officer Basic Course with many West Point Alumni. The Army-Navy week was awesome. BEAT NAVY was the common phrase and probably said more often than the Army motivational saying of HOOAH (pronounced who-Ah.) We made videos at the range of shooting a Navy football jersey with rifles, machine guns, and grenade launchers. Deployed soldiers and sailors send in videos from around the world, each cheering on their chosen branch of service.
The signs are one of the best parts of game day. Cadets and Midshipmen take this to the next level. Usually, the signs are good-natured, but at times are downright low. From Navy’s bashing of a picture of an Army Cadet promoting Communism to Army ripping the Naval officer whose ship was captured by the Iranians by using the Navy phrase of “Don’t give up the ship.”
Each team sings the Alma Mater with the winner singing second. That’s the goal. Army holds the current advantage of having won the last three contests. Prior to the 2016 game, which started the current Army streak, Navy rattled off 14 straight wins. Navy currently holds the series lead 60-52-7. If you are a fan of the passing game, this isn’t the game for you. However, if you like option football and tradition of college football, this is a must-see.
So there are my two suggestions of bucket list games you should make a point to see. If you have any games I want to hear from you. Either way, College football starts SATURDAY!