Sunday, November 28, 2010

28 NOV 10: Cam-Back of the Year

"Did you see Auburn-Alabama yesterday?" a man asked me as I picked up dinner Saturday night. I'd paused for a moment near the door to check a TV screen, where Wisconsin players celebrated winning a game with 70 points. With that high a score, it obviously was football and not Big Ten basketball.

This question allowed me to explain my unique Iron Bowl experience. Regular blog readers know I keep a seventh-day Sabbath, which began with the Friday evening sunset at 5:35 p.m. ET. At 5:34, Auburn's Cam Newton threw a touchdown pass to tie the game at 27-27 -- and at that moment, I turned off the TV and turned up Christian radio. The game was tied, and "blessed are the peacemakers."

"Everyone in Alabama would be happy for the next year," I told the man as I explained my decision -- but of course, I knew better than that. I heard enough of the Auburn and Alabama radio broadcasts to realize that -- with enough whine to make me wonder why Anheuser-Busch was selling beer during commercial breaks.

So I didn't stick around for Auburn's extra point after the tying touchdown, which turned out to be the winning point of Iron Bowl 2010. Auburn rallied from a 24-0 deficit to edge Alabama 28-27 - and if Cam Newton can wipe out a deficit like that, he should skip pro football and run for Congress.

It was fascinating to use multimedia options to follow Friday's Iron Bowl. The Auburn broadcast on WVRK-FM "Rock 103" was about six seconds ahead of WRBL's television signal. The Alabama broadcast on WIOL-AM was choppy, barely audible and 15 seconds behind television. And CBS apparently was listening to WIOL, because we never saw the actual kickoff.

The Auburn broadcast booth was disgusted with a first-quarter personal foul on defensive lineman Nick Fairley. Alabama went on to score a touchdown on the drive, and analyst Stan White blamed it on a referee officiating "based on the newspapers." Well, the papers ARE as "black and white" as the referee's shirt....

But Nick Fairley atoned for his "two-stomp" penalty by forcing and recovering a fumble in the second quarter, and Alabama's Mark Ingram fumbled another potential touchdown through the end zone. The Crimson Tide missed an opportunity to completely bury Auburn - and now will have to hope the NCAA changes the outcome in 2012, after an investigation.

So Auburn football fans woke up Saturday with two incredible dreams come true. Yes, they came from behind on the road to edge Alabama - and even better, someone found a way to beat Boise State.

While Auburn advances to next weekend's Southeastern Conference championship game, there was speculation Saturday the offensive coordinator might be leaving. Gus Malzahn's name emerged as a candidate to become head coach of Vanderbilt - where many of the students come from families so wealthy, they don't need go-betweens getting big bucks for them.

The big rivalry weekend continued Saturday night, with Georgia outlasting Georgia Tech 42-34. But when Georgia fans write messages of encouragement online along the lines of "Let's be bowl eligible," you know the season isn't quite right.

Georgia kept taking leads all night, including a 21-14 lead in the second quarter on a touchdown pass to Shaw High School graduate Bruce Wiggins. Yet Georgia Tech kept fighting back -- not with a Wiggins, but like Weebles.

The funniest radio moment of the weekend for me came in the fourth quarter, with Georgia driving downfield with a 35-34 lead. Scott Howard yelled, "Ealey is gonna score! Tech wasn't expecting it!! - only to be corrected by the understanding that Georgia Tech allowed a touchdown on purpose to get the ball back. Georgia Tech players show their superior intellect again....

But Georgia's defense intercepted a pass in the final minute, to secure the Bulldogs' ninth win over Georgia Tech in the last ten games. Both teams can go to bowl games - and ESPN apparently has reshuffled the lineup so Georgia Tech can enjoy something Georgia fans have come to dread: a trip to Shreveport, Louisiana.

ESPN showed actor Samuel L. Jackson on the field in Athens, wearing Georgia attire. If any celebrities were rooting for Georgia Tech, I missed them - but then again, all the Georgia Tech grads probably were busy counting their income from "Small Business Saturday."

And I'm told Carver High School running back Isaiah Crowell was at the Georgia Tech-Georgia game, wearing Bulldog attire. Does that mean Georgia leads in the recruiting drive for Crowell? And should we assume Crowell ran all the way to Athens, with strength left over from Friday night's playoff game?

Isaiah Crowell picked up 305 yards and five touchdowns as Carver cruised past Thomasville 40-14 in the Class AA quarterfinals. Clearly Crowell has recovered from his mid-season injury - and just in time for more college coaches to watch him in action.

There doesn't seem to be much going on this holiday weekend besides football. But here's what we found....

+ The Ledger-Enquirer reported "Black Friday" began with police escorting some customers out of the Columbus Park Crossing Wal-Mart. The customers reportedly were fighting at midnight - which may show how realistic some of those video games have begun.

+ A 2009 video clip from a Lanett worship service went viral on several religious blogs - especially blogs which make fun of Christianity. The way this preacher shouts and jumps onto pews, he may have given the halftime pep talk to the Auburn football team.

+ Instant Message to Mayor Jim Wetherington: I heard on WTVM you're turning 73 today. Please let us know as soon as possible which runoff candidate sent you the biggest birthday cake.

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: We're politics-free even on runoff election days, so send your closing comments about the races by this evening.)

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