In 2009, I decided to attend the University of Georgia even though I had already made a lifelong commitment to the Alabama Crimson Tide’s football team. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined the position that would put me in eight and a half years later.
Much like any other young college football fan, I grew up going to and watching Alabama games with my dad. I’ll never forget my first game. It was the 1997 Mississippi State game. It was freezing cold and raining. Alabama lost 32-20. I was six years old and completely miserable, but I still left completely in love with Alabama.
I’ve never looked back.
Despite the fact that I picked the worst era of Alabama football to grow up in, I was still drawn to the tradition and the revered place in college football lore that Alabama held. Enduring the Mike DuBose, Dennis Franchione, Mike Price and Mike Shula eras was just part of the deal. Having my Auburn fan peers wave their thumbs in my face as they told me to “fear the thumb” after winning five straight Iron Bowls (they would make it six straight the following year) was painful, but through thick and thin you stand by your team. Alabama football taught me that the hard way at an early age.
Even as Alabama has embarked on the most successful ten year stretch in college football history, there are still things I have learned from the Tide. No matter how many times you have seen your team win, losing the big one still hurts. There is no such thing as too many titles. The nervous excitement of watching your team contend for a championship is just as thrilling the fifth time around as it is the first. I remember how much I would have given to see Alabama win a national championship as a kid. I remember how much I hated losing the national championship last year, even after seeing my team win four of them. These memories make it impossible for me to pull against Alabama on Monday night. I have no idea how much longer Alabama’s current run is going to last, and if this is their last legitimate shot at a title then I’d never forgive myself for not wanting this one just as bad as I wanted the one in 2009.
That being said, I don’t want Georgia to lose either. I want my friends and former classmates to experience the same joy I’ve experienced. I want them to be able to feel the elation that comes from winning a national championship and the thrill that comes the following year from being the team with the target on its back. I do genuinely want that for you, just not at the expense of my team. I still hope you get that opportunity and if this year’s recruiting class is any indication there’s a strong chance you will be back here. Regardless of what happens on Monday night, my thoughts and my heart will go out to you. Should you lose, I will feel your sadness and bitterness, because I know that feeling. Should you win, I will be thrilled for you, even through my own despondency.
Many times in life we are faced with choices that we deem a “lesser of two evils” choice. Monday night, I have the rare opportunity for a “greater of two goods” choice, and while it is significantly more fun it isn’t any easier. With that I offer up my final “Go Dawgs!” of the year, because from here until the end of the game I’m duty-bound by my pledge of allegiance to cheer “Roll Tide!”
Cover Photo Courtesy of Touchdown Alabama Magazine