I like to start each season out by posting this article written by of all people a reporter from Syracus, NY, after attending his first Auburn game. As part of the Auburn faithful we sometime have trouble putting into words what it is to go to an Auburn game. This stranger in our midst was somehow able to capture the wonder of it all, and I am forever grateful.
Written by Bud Poliquin, a columnist for the Syracuse Post-Standard newspaper after covering the 2002 Auburn vs. Syracuse football game in Auburn. The article was written for and published in the Post-Standard on October 3, 2002.
BY BUD POLIQUIN
I have descended into college football’s Grand Canyon. I have stood in its Alps. I have gazed at its ocean sunset. I have done all of these things and I’ve been changed forever.
I knew, of course, that we were different up here. I understood that autumn Saturdays in our burg have never been given over to any kind of serious sporting fervor. I’ve accepted for a good, long while that a fair amount of our citizens regularly choose to pick apples or seal driveways rather than head to the Carrier Dome to watch the Syracuse University Orangemen at play.
But, Lord have mercy on our college football souls, I’ve come to realize we’re not merely quirky in these parts. And we’re not just overly particular. No, having attended a game in Auburn, Ala. – which is like going to Mass in Rome – I’m convinced that, by comparison, we’re as dead as the flying wedge.
"Let me tell you something," said Paul Pasqualoni, the SU coach who can recognize bedlam when he is forced to shout above it. "Being in that stadium with all those people – the noise level, the atmosphere – was exciting. It was a lot of fun. To me, it was just spectacular being there."
He was speaking of Jordan-Hare Stadium, where four days earlier his SU club had lost to the Auburn Tigers 37-34 in an environment that was equal parts Woodstock, Mardi Gras, New Year’s Eve and Madonna’s last wedding. And the Crimson Tide boys, those rascals from the other side of the state, weren’t even in town, to say nothing of the Bulldogs, Gators or Razorbacks.
Nah, it was just the Orangemen, a non-league bunch from somewhere up north … with a losing record yet. But it didn’t matter. This, because the cherished Tigers were on the other side, and that was enough for those Alabama locals to respond the way the French did when Patton’s army showed up in Paris.
The orange-clad zealots, who are in their seats fully 30 minutes prior to kickoff, thunder through choreographed cheers. The band, which is saluted upon its arrival by the big house with a standing ovation, blares. The PA system, which continuously blasts the sounds of a growling tiger, pipes in songs by the Dixie Chicks and interviews with the Auburn coaches.
Before the game, there is the great Tiger Walk during which the Auburn players march along Donahue Street through thousands of people, some of whom weep, and into the stadium. After the game, there is the mass papering of famous Toomer’s Corner downtown. And between all of that, a golden eagle circles the place before landing on the field to a deafening roar.
Believe me on this. Please. I have descended into college football’s Grand Canyon. I have stood in its Alps. I have gazed at its ocean sunset. I have attended a game at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala. And I’ve been changed forever.
© 2002 The Post-Standard.