12 JAN 11: Tiger Towns
Columbus may have 190,000 residents or so. But Tuesday reminded me big numbers do NOT determine where the heart of a metropolitan area is. For at least 24 hours, Columbus has been a suburb of Auburn.
The Birmingham News reports Auburn's BCS Championship trophy will be displayed in Columbus this weekend. It will be shown for four hours Saturday at the Columbus Park Crossing Wal-Mart - where I'm sure the staff will tell you an orange championship shirt can double as a hunting safety outfit.
The BCS Championship trophy also will be shown in Montgomery Friday and Auburn Sunday. Of course, this raises a question: where will it be kept overnight? Maybe this is why a judge allowed Milton McGregor to attend the title game in Arizona - so the trophy can be stored inside the shuttered Oasis Hotel.
Until then, happy Auburn fans have plenty of national championship gear to buy. In fact, Academy Sports in Lee County opened as soon as the Tigers kicked the winning field goal Monday night. Imagine if Oregon had won - those bright yellow knee-high socks would have been very hard to sell.
Color Mac of Columbus printed 10,000 Auburn championship T-shirts, under a contract with Nike. They're perfect for these cold winter days - as you wear that layer under the Auburn championship golf shirt.
The college football champion of 49 states returned home to Auburn University Tuesday night. The Tigers were welcomed.... what?! Yes, I said 49 states. Do you really think Texans are accepting those final rankings? Texas Christian also is undefeated - and it's the "Christian" in them that's preventing a challenge to play one more game.
But not every Auburn player flew home from Arizona. Quarterback Cam Newton made a side trip to Hollywood, to appear on "The Tonight Show" Tuesday night. The preacher's son was scheduled to appear with Bill Maher - so I suspect they had quite a discussion backstage about "Hail Mary" passes.
Cam Newton may be in pain for a while, because he injured his back in the Monday night win. I didn't see every play, but one man told me Newton appeared to take a blow to the kidney. The better to sign his first endorsement deal with East Alabama Medical Center....
The Opelika-Auburn News spotted Cam Newton's father on the field with his son, celebrating the BCS Championship win. University officials say they did NOT provide Cecil Newton tickets. So how many footballs did he have to autograph in the parking lot?
WTVM spotted Cam Newton's brother somewhere else Tuesday evening. He was at Toomer's Corner, amidst the celebrating Auburn students. Perhaps he stopped at the Georgia restaurant of House Speaker John Boehner's brother on the way....
One reporter counted 53 trees "rolled" in downtown Auburn, in the wake of the BCS Championship game. You may consider this a spontaneous celebration of victory - but considering the Tigers hadn't won a national championship in 53 years, the journalist in me smells a conspiracy.
Some reporter did the math during the fall, and computed Auburn head coach Gene Chizik will be paid $1.3 million in incentive bonuses for winning the BCS Championship. I think that's a bit misleading - because Chizik will have to give some of that money to his coordinators, to keep them from leaving.
Coach Gene Chizik says a citywide celebration is planned for the Auburn football team 22 January. The delay tells us something noteworthy -- as Chizik actually wants Auburn students to focus on the start of spring semester for a full week.
Meanwhile, I'm told one of the trending topics on Twitter Tuesday was "quack quack quack." It's not clear what sparked this interest. Are Oregon fans actually blaming biased officials for Monday night's loss?
(Did you hear about the gourmet food stores in south Alabama which sold out of duck meat, before the Auburn-Oregon game? I sincerely hope Tiger fans there do NOT go to Korean restaurants before the Auburn-Georgia game.)
Auburn fans were brought back to reality a little Tuesday night, when the men's basketball team played at Kentucky. The Wildcats whipped the Tigers 78-54 - so if Nick Fairley wants to play center for the next few weeks, he'll probably be welcome.
-> Poker games don't normally end in one hand, but it's happened to us twice recently. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-
E-MAIL UPDATE: We noted Sunday protesters upset with the President of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce can join another local "chamber." But that led us to wonder if that group has an opinion on the Mike Gaymon "tablecloth joke." We asked, and this answer came Tuesday....
Here is my statement:
We are very aware of this incident. It was bought to our attention a while back. It's very unfortunate that this happened and a lot of people take offense whether it was a joke or not. We as people have to be culturally sensitive. Our chamber supports diversity and respects all cultures.
Our concern is for the City of Columbus. We hope this doesn't impact the image of the city, we do not want Columbus to known as a raciest City. Economically, with the BRAC and other projects we have a lot at stake and we are available to do whatever it takes to support diversity here in Columbus. We are here to help.
So the Greater Columbus Minority Chamber of Commerce isn't exactly calling for Gaymon's removal. But if you want to remove your membership, she probably wouldn't object.
A couple of other e-mails are being held for this weekend. So let's see if anything else happened Tuesday....
+ The first battalion from Fort Knox, Kentucky formally arrived at Fort Benning, under base realignment. You'll be able to spot the soldiers from Fort Knox easily for a while - until all the gold dust falls off their uniforms.
+ Outside auditors reported to Columbus Council someone has used city tax identification numbers to open unauthorized "city" bank accounts. Does this mean there's a wider ethical problem, beyond the Parks and Recreation Department? Did someone create a "slush fund" to treat slushy streets with extra sand?
(Among other things, the outside auditor proposed the city create a "Grants Director" position to oversee the creation of bank accounts. That's funny - I thought the city hired a Grants Director last year, when Seth Brown became Crime Prevention Director.)
+ The Atlanta Hawks' home game against Milwaukee was postponed because of snow and ice. Some areas are so ice-covered that people stepped outside and ice-skated up and down their streets. As long as they haven't switched away from roller skates at Sonic....
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