This is the fourth installment in my chronicles of the worst Alabama football games I have personally attended. The goal is to gain a little perspective about where we (as a fan base) have been and contrast the bad games with the good games in the past (and future).
No 7. Auburn(9) at Alabama(0), Bryant-Denny Stadium, November 18, 2000
To describe the 2000 season as anything other than a dismal failure would be foolish and in many ways this version of the Iron Bowl was a perfect analogy for the season; it was a miserable game played on a miserable day. You would think that coming into the game 3-7 after beginning the season as a consensus top 5 team that a loss wouldn’t be that bad. But it was – and then some.
Coming off the 21st conference championship in school history and the first visit to a new fangled BCS Bowl game at the Orange Bowl, in only its second year of existence, the expectations were through the roof – and that’s in comparison to the normal sky-high expectations around here. To say that the whole season was a disaster would be an understatement. Alabama lost to all its non-conference foes – for the first time in like, forever- every member of the division except Ole Miss, and all its rivals -going so far as ending the 30-year winning streak in Baton Rouge after leading in the fourth quarter. Mercifully the team also lost its head coach – but only after their creator had abandoned them first- which turned out to be the best thing about the season.
In spite of everything that had gone wrong, I still had hopes that a win could be pulled out against the in-state rival and a little dignity could be salvaged. Right. This was to be the first time that the Tigers had ever played in Bryant-Denny and eons since they had traveled to Tuscaloosa for a contest. Also the usual complement of out-of-town college buddies were coming back to town for the game and this would be the first time I ever went to an Iron Bowl with my dad. In spite of overwhleming evidence to the contrary I believe that the team can win every game. And as that week began, I believed just that. This is the game that everything is thrown out for. This is the game where miracles can happen and legends are born.
As the weekend approached the weather reports were more and more gloomy. Cloudy and cold with a strong chance of sleet that turned into a certain chance of rain by game time. The weather it seemed would match the mood in Tuscaloosa. All of my friends arrived on Thursday and the typical night of boozing left me wobbly on Friday, which I had wisely taken off work but still did not help me recuperate enough to actually enjoy Friday night.
Game day dawned cold and gray. About the time we struggled to the tailgate the sleet started. The bad thing is had the sleet continued it would have been better than turning to rain. See, sleet bounces off your clothes and fall harmlessly to the ground, unlike the rain, which began thirty minutes before kickoff, as if on cue. Now, I’m not going to compare the cold to Lambeau Field, because obviously, if it was raining it was above 32 degrees. But it wasn’t by much and here in the South, where cold is a relative term, 33 with high humidity and a breeze is brutal. You can’t get warm. It’s something about the dampness in the air that seeps through the layers you are wearing and prohibits any warmth whatsoever.
So as kickoff neared I was only mildly excited about the game; the prospect of sitting in the miserable conditions only slightly eased by the slim hope of grid iron glory. Oh, and I failed to mention, my wife was four months pregnant. Not happy, glowing pregnant but I’m tired and I want to lay down and my back hurts pregnant. So needless to say I was concerned with her well-being and comfort, which was also a relative term on that day. To her credit, she was a trooper and did not complain at all- she was the one who chose to go to the game after all- and I think that our upper-deck seats being about three rows behind the drip line played a big part in that.
To be honest, my only real memories of the game were that the team was not very good and this was perhaps the most boring game I had ever seen. Neither team would score a touchdown and Auburn only iced the game late with their third field goal of the day. It just sucked. There is no better way to put it.
I recall that as the game neared completion and the Orange and Blue clad fans began their choruses of their cheap, dime-store knock off of Rammer Jammer that I was thinking that soon this would all be behind us. The whole thing was mercifully ending.
Afterwards I didn’t want to discuss the game at all. I just wanted some time to pass. The long downward spiral had ended and in some strange way that was the best thing about that most miserable of days.