Saturday, November 19, 2011

Lions, Tigers and....War Eagle?

Today I had the opportunity to visit Auburn University and watch a football game. This was my first visit to a SEC game. I am a Big Ten girl at heart but my Boilers are too far away to enjoy a live game and reality says I need to be open to a possible fill in - not replacement.
I marched 4 years with the Purdue All American Marching Band. I have tailgated with my friends even as recently as last year. Heck, I even marched in the Alumni Band twice. Today, it was a brand new experience.
Purdue has a proud history of tailgating but Auburn has a wider spread of tailgating. Purdue alums hang out behind Ross Ade stadium in their fancy rigs or under simple pop ups. You can walk the campus and meet rowdy fans and feel the spirit build before the game. Slayter Hill has always been a popular pregame stop for many fans - allowing them to fire up with the band and get their game faces on - sometimes literally. Homecoming is always full of reunions of friends and pure Boilermaker spirit. There is nothing like going home.
Today was Auburn's homecoming. It's mid November and they are just celebrating homecoming. Most students have already left for their homes for the holiday. The rowdy crowd was nowhere to be found. The alumni band marched but they just marched on with the student band and played. There wasn't a buzz of school spirit in the air. However, Auburn band broke down into 4ths and each part took a street and met at the intersection in front of the stadium. That was cool. The fans do love their band.
However, everyone tailgated everywhere. Where there was lawn, even in front of classroom buildings, there were tailgaters. First come first serve. There were steel boxes to dispose of your hot charcoal. There were pop-up awnings everywhere. The RVs were in their own field up the road with their own shuttle service. Corporations bought hospitality tents just outside the stadium. They were hosting various people and offered satellite TV to watch the game. But they weren't the only ones. Many families had their TVs set up to watch the game. Several never even make it to the game.
Football is a family affair here. Families tailgate even at a high school level. Our local team, Lions, will be playing in the state championship next weekend. The game will be played at Alabama since the Tide will be in Auburn for their big match up. I will guarantee that life will stop around here for that game. Many will go but all will be listening in on that game.
Auburn plays Alabama next Saturday, the Iron Bowl. This rivalry is as strong as our Old Oaken Bucket game. Fans from both sides will converge on Auburn campus and tailgate everywhere - parking lots, grassy areas - anywhere flat. My family has been invited to come out for the game. Don't have to worry about tickets. Just pull up a chair and watch with other fans.
Funny thing about the entire day - instead of Go Tigers it was War Eagle. They has a legend about an eagle soaring through the stadium and it gave the team encouragement to win a horrific game. Today they celebrate that legend by releasing a trained eagle in the stadium. They only cheer - War Eagle.
I only have one answer to that - Boiler up and Hammer down. Go Boilers!!

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