A Sweet Family Victory

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auburn_logo_mainWinning is really great.  My precious Auburn Tigers won the 2010 National Championship last night for the first time in my lifetime. And it was amazing.

It might sound crazy, but I take this win very personally.  Growing up in a state dominated by Crimson Tide football, I’ve been an Auburn kid since birth.  My dad graduated from API (Auburn’s name then) in Electrical Engineering eons ago.  He and my mom taught us to love Auburn, even when winning at football was more a dream than a tradition.  I remember a game Auburn lost when Doug Barfield was the coach mostly because it became obvious that traditions and being part of the Auburn family would have suffice as my reasons for being an Auburn fan.  Growing up, I can honestly remember only a handful of Auburn faithfuls – Kasi, Trey, Mike, and me.  We wore our Auburn jerseys before and after every game – understanding that the outcome of games had nothing to do with our pride.  And that’s what you do – you stick with your team.  You endure the taunting, the insults, and all of the junk that goes with being the team that has lots of checks in the pride and tradition column but very few in the win column.  With Pat Sullivan and Terry Beasley things had improved.  Winning was in vogue for Auburn with our Heisman athlete leading the way!  It felt great!  Then the Barfield years made us question if that was a dream.  Then came Bo.

I was at Auburn with Bo Jackson.  Besides being an amazing running back, Bo was a pretty cool gentleman as well.  (Click to read my story about how Bo helped me.)  Bo wasn’t the whole team, but he was a riot to watch.  We began to think about Auburn football in a different way.  Along with this new “winning” concept, I began to deeply love all of the wonderful traditions of my Auburn family.  Things such as…

Aubie (the best mascot in America)
Tiger Walk
Our Eagle (even flew at the Olympics)
our great band
our cheers and cheerleaders
Toomer’s Corner
tailgating on the loveliest village on the plains
the brilliant Foy Union (even Matt Lauer called Foy for help!)
Tiger Rags game day shirts
Jordan-Hare Stadium
A Beautiful Campus (Haley Center at the heart)
Other traditions listed here….

Yes, we have lots of traditions.  And by the time the 1980s rolled around, winning had become one of them as well.  We just never seemed to make it all the way.  We won enough games that the Bama fans now feared the Iron Bowl.  We won enough games to get the attention of the pollsters.  We won enough games to attract lots of new fans to our family.  In some ways Auburn had grown up and in other ways, Auburn had stayed the same.  After the Bo years, the next twenty would be filled with such fun.  When the Auburn-Alabama game was moved to the Auburn and Alabama campuses, something intense happened in Alabama.  The whole state became drunk with the taste of winning.  Someday (if the winning ever goes away for us all in this state) we will need the equivalent of Alcoholics Anonymous for football to show us how to cope without our drink.

Gene Chizik came to town and most Auburn faithfuls were scratching their heads and wondering.  When the 2010 season began, we hoped for a less-embarrassing season that might set us up for something grand in future years.  None of us realized what our new quarterback would mean to our dreams.  When I think about Cam Newton I will remember one thing.  When he was on the field, I didn’t worry. I can’t remember feeling so confident in my team.  My Auburn family knows what I mean.  It was destiny and we new it all season long.  We had a harder time believing that destiny was something real than that Auburn would likely take it all.  All the junk with Cam’s dad made it harder to believe, but that is so much like life.  Stuff always gets you distracted.  But when you stand on a solid foundation tightly knitted together with family, amazing things happen.

Now, I know it’s just football to most folks.  And to some folks football’s a really big deal.  But to me, I’m celebrating something entirely different.  Since the early 1990s my college friends have converged on the Warrior River every September to spend time loving each other.  Yes, we reminisce.  But more than that, we share our lives.  I’ve thought of them.  Like me, my husband graduated from Auburn, though I didn’t know him at the time.  He is beyond thrilled.  I’ve thought of him.  My dad remembers the first national championship and must be elated he’s witnessed another.  I’ve thought of him.  My mom didn’t live to see this season.  She would have been the first Auburn fan to arrive in Glendale.  I’ve cried thinking of her.  My sister is mourning that she didn’t do whatever she had to to go to Glendale, even without a ticket.  I’ve thought of her.  I’ve thought of those kids in South Korea cheering for Auburn.  I’ve thought of my childhood Auburn friends, my new Auburn friends, and my sweet nephew, Jacob, who loves Auburn as much as any 16 year can.  (Who drove in the snow to Toomer’s Corner last night just to be with family at such a time.)  I’ve thought of all my friends that paid a fortune for tickets to this game and even more for a flight out of the snowy south to get there.  So, is this game really a football game?  I suppose to some people it is.  To me, it’s really about family.  And today, my family is our nation’s champion.  Sweet, huh?

2 thoughts on “A Sweet Family Victory

  1. Judy says:

    Jennifer, I loved this post. It brought back so many great memories. In remembering the past and how we got to this point, we can’t forget Terry Bowden’s undefeated ’93 season as well as Tommy Tuberville’s 2004 undefeated season. Both of those seasons were building blocks to this year.

    Two years ago, Peggy gave me some navy blue pants that she could no longer wear. This year those pants fit me perfectly, for many reasons! I wore them to the SEC game and told my friends that Peggy was going to the game with us! I carried them to Arizona and wore them early in the week but I had brand new pants for game day (or so I thought). The new pants were the only item in the suitcase that had a wrinkle. I set up an ironing board and set about making them “game ready”. I then heard a voice clearly say, “Surely, you are not going to leave me in the closet!” I am proud to say that Peggy’s pants and her spirit were in the stadium with me as we captured the National Championship! The Ducks didn’t have a chance!!! War Eagle!


  2. Jennifer Barnett says:

    Judy – You just made my heart smile like it hasn’t in months. It may just be wearing a pair of pants to most folks, but that means the whole world to me. Mamma loved you from the very depth of her heart and she had one as large as an ocean. I’m so glad you had a piece of her with you at that game. So true, the Ducks didn’t have a chance!
    Thanks for sharing. I love and appreciate you, Marvin, and Blake so much. You aren’t just Auburn family. You are family.


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