When my sweet middle child, my only daughter, was a freshman at Auburn University years ago, she made an exasperated call to me on a Friday afternoon.
“I have to move my car for the weekend to make room for people who need to park for the football game,” she told me in her most indignant voice. On top of that, transportation was not being provided from her temporary offsite parking place back to her residence hall.
She went on to ask how it could be fair that an outsider, a non-student for that matter, could occupy her parking space for the weekend. (At 18, she had still not let go of her belief that life should be fair.)
After listening to her for a few minutes, I politely explained how she had chosen to go to a Southeast Conference school, where football is very important. I suggested she could (a) transfer to a school where football was of less importance so she could avoid such egregious violations of her rights; or (b) return her car to me so she would not have to deal with this type of inconvenience.
Finding neither of these proposed solutions acceptable, she ended the call. For the remainder of the time she lived at this on-campus location, she begrudgingly moved her car on game weekends.
With her older brother having matriculated at the same school, and with her younger brother eventually following his older siblings there, my wife and I became thoroughly indoctrinated into SEC football over the 11 years (count ‘em) we sponsored students at Auburn.
And just in case you are not familiar with the emotional marketing campaign, well, it’s like this in the SEC: It Just Means More. Moving your car so season ticket holders can park is a small sacrifice.
We fell into Auburn fandom ourselves, going to games in person a couple of times a year and planning our entire fall season around Saturday game times.
Until my older son’s first Auburn football season, I had never heard of an “Iron Bowl” and certainly would never have envisioned any of my offspring making an early exit from Thanksgiving dinner in order to make it back in time for all the associated festivities. I also didn’t know, as an Auburn fan, I was supposed to loathe the University of Alabama.
But I was a quick study and got on the bandwagon. (Except for the hating Alabama part. I’m not that petty).
Since our youngest graduated in 2015, I’ve mellowed quite a bit, although my wife remains an ardent fan. In general, she’s more of a football fan than I am, so that’s not surprising.
Readers might remember this time last year, when our cable service was in a battle with the local ABC affiliate and not airing its programming, I wrote about how upset she was that she might miss the first Auburn game.
That was resolved (as I predicted it would be), but who would have known a year ago that, one year later, we might not even have college football in 2020?
The NBA, MLB, NHL and even MLS (Major League Soccer) all have figured out a way to resume play during the pandemic. Their adjustments (such as playing with no fans and/or in a “bubble”) have been drastic, but at least they’re playing.
The NFL’s plans are a little vague (will there be fans in Nissan Stadium watching the Titans or not?), but the games are still scheduled.
But college football? It’s in a state of disarray.
As usual, this could be outdated by the time you are reading it, but as of the time I am writing, two of the three Power Five conferences (the Big Ten and the Pac-12), as well as a number of other ones, have announced the postponement of fall sports, including football, due to the pandemic.
The SEC, ACC and Big 12 are still holding out.
And it has become personal. It seems the folks from the two Power 5 conferences who have called things off thought the other three would fall quickly into line.
The president of Oregon State University was quoted as saying the SEC is simply not seeing reality. I’m guessing he’s smarting a bit at the thought those other conferences might go right ahead and play while Oregon State fans spend their Saturdays looking at fall foliage.
And to the surprise of no one who is an observer of the current state of affairs in this country, it has become political.
Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville, a Republican who just happens to be a former Auburn football coach (yes, you read that correctly), is engaged in a full-scale blitz (pun intended) for the SEC to stay the course and play. He is gigging his incumbent Democratic opponent with accusations he is too soft on the subject.
That candidate, Senator Doug Jones, has had the audacity to say he’s going to leave it to the SEC powers-that-be and their respective schools to make the decision.
President Trump (who, it should come as no surprise, has endorsed Tuberville) also supports the playing of college football, as demonstrated by his recent Twitter thread, which includes a simple statement, “Play College Football!” and a short video showing him attending college football games and meeting with players.
In our family, we’re holding out hope there will still be a season, although we are not engaging in the politics of it.
Some of us take it more seriously than others, but we all agree it’s a lot of fun.
And we are very much in favor of that these days.
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at [email protected].