Let’s get one thing clear right out of the gate: I am a Louisville fan and want the Cards to win on Saturday, no questions asked. If Auburn wins, yes I will be bummed just like if it were any loss. There is no part of me that is torn on that matter for this weekend. However, since the week of the game is finally here, things are beginning to get a little awkward for me, and I will attempt to tell you why.
We seem to have new readers all the time here, so some may not know, and sorry for repeating myself to those that do…but I lived in Auburn, Alabama from 2008-2012. My (now) wife Kacy was a student in the Vet School and so I went down there with her and worked while she was in school. I didn’t just work anywhere. I worked in the athletic department in both Facilities and the Ticket Office. For facilities, I was in the football stadium five days a week. In the ticket office, I was in the basketball arena, where the window looked out at the stadium, as I sold tickets to football.
When this game was announced about two years ago, it was nothing but excitement. I couldn’t believe we would finally play each other after being down there for four years and me just talking about Louisville all the time. Well, mainly talking about Louisville starting in 2010 or so. 2008 and 2009 were kind of rough and not worth talking about.
How much was I talking Louisville? On October 23, 2010, I was in attendance as Cam Newton and 4th ranked Auburn faced 6th ranked LSU. In one of the best games of the season, I couldn’t stop checking my phone for Louisville-UConn football updates. True story. And I kept updating the random guy next to me, who I am sure cared a lot about Louisville-UConn football as Auburn was battling LSU right there in front of us. That is just a small example.
Where does the awkwardness come in this week? To this point, it has been mainly buildup and excitement for the game. While that is still there, now the trash talk has started from both sides. I just can’t find myself able to participate. I don’t think it is just because I still have friends down there. We all have some friends that cheer for different teams and we can still talk a little trash in good fun. I guess it is more the fanbase as a whole, the community, and the tradition that I just can’t bring myself to make fun of. But I understand for Louisville fans that have never experienced it, Auburn is just another SEC team to not like, so I get it.
So for 25 of my 29 years of life, I have lived in Louisville. Even while I lived down there, I made a couple trips home each season to come to football games here. I bought season tickets in 2010 for Louisville, while I still lived in Auburn, just so I could have them for when we moved back. I am a 100% full blooded Louisville Cardinals fan. But in saying that, there isn’t anything I have experienced like gameday, or even game week, in Auburn.
I could go into all of their traditions that make Auburn one of a kind, but that could be a whole different post. Back to the point of this: the awkwardness. If I didn’t check social media, none of this would matter. But I get on there and see that Krystal’s (southern version of White Castle) has posted some smack talk on their sign outside. I gave that place plenty of business, and now I know where lunch is on Sunday if we win Saturday!
Sidenote: wife and I are staying in Auburn on Saturday night and all of Sunday because we haven’t been back since we left. This should be interesting.
I see Louisville fans making fun of them having “two mascots” with the Tigers and Eagles, although they probably don’t even bother to look up what “War Eagle” means and how cool it actually is. Speaking of, the eagle flying around the stadium is one of the coolest pregame rituals in all of sports. I don’t think we will see it Saturday in the Georgia Dome, but it is pretty awesome. Even this video doesn’t do it justice.
Being in Auburn taught me a lot about tailgating. Whether it was the setup or just how you treat other fans. I still see some people here that if an opposing fan base parks near them while tailgating, they get disgusted and actually think those fans are playing in the game or something. Being in Auburn taught me to invite those people over for food and drinks. Make them feel welcome. You may be the only fans that those people really interact with that day. Do you want to be known as West Virginia fans or Clemson fans? Be the Clemson-type fans. For as nice as the Clemson fans were, according to those of you that went, Auburn is that and more. I guarantee it.
This isn’t a post to tell you to get all lovey dovey this week and don’t do your fair share of trash talking. You do what you want. If they give you material, take it and run with it. Just don’t reach for stuff just to be making fun, especially if you haven’t educated yourself. This is a very knowledgeable fan base and for the most part, they are super nice people.
I am a die-hard Louisville fan, no question about that. I just have respect for their program, tradition, and the people of Auburn. I want the Cards to win and will be upset if we don’t. This will be much easier for me in 2018 when we are gearing up to play Alabama 🙂