Friday, August 26, 2005

University of Alabama Football Report for 8/26/05

To have had the experience is well enough; one must also interpret.

-- Howard Nemerov, The Melodramatists

As classes start and two-a-days end, rumors are circulating throughout Alabama that in 2007 the Crimson Tide will face the Florida State Seminoles (or whatever they may or may not be called by then) in the not-so-neutral neutral site of Jacksonville, birthplace of Lynyrd Skynyrd and current home of Hitler’s yacht.

Lots of people – fans, columnists, broadcasters, advertisers – hope that Bobby Bowden will still be walking the sidelines by then if said game takes place. I have a more practical hope: that Jeff Bowden is still there.

But as this season approaches, it’s important to remind ourselves of the past if only to forget it. Alabama’s highly ranked defense from last year hasn’t stopped anybody yet. 2004’s National Champion USC hasn’t gained a yard so far. Yet football fans are so full of optimism this time of year that often you’ll see dozens of them roadside at a time, walking along the highway, their cars abandoned miles behind them and out of gas. All certain they would have made it a few more miles despite the needle being buried under the E – all of them still smiling yet on the cusp of anger.

Perspective is hard to come by. In Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva destroys the universe at the end of each eon, burns it into fine ash, then drowns it beneath the cosmic waters where it churns and shifts until it grows anew, over and over again. Even in the creation stories, there was never an absolute nothing. Man was created from the rearrangement of earlier men. Death was created just to lighten the load. Every ending a new beginning: roll with the dharma, partner.

Death doesn’t come off so chummy for the Carpenter’s customers. Less a part of the natural order than a punishment, the end of the book tosses it out altogether. The whole system’s linchpinned around it. That’s why you don’t see church women wearing miniature golden mangers around their necks and why the Road Warrior didn’t try to cash in with a Christmas movie. It may also explain why TV preachers feel so comfortable offering advice to the CIA’s Black Ops team.

Shiva’s got a good thing going for Bama fans though. Check the SEC roster for unknowables and you’ll find quite a few teams rebuilding the universe with new coaches (Florida, LSU, Ole Miss, South Carolina), some doing it with new quarterbacks (Auburn, Georgia, Kentucky), but you won’t find Alabama, who has already had its ride through choppy waters

Only Brahma knows, true believers. Brahma, whose four bodies – the evening twilight, the night, the day, the morning dawn – serve as vessels for the power of men, bookends life with the Destroyer and reassembles each living thing based on its karma before the fires consumed it. And as such, each team is built on the promise of the one before yet is independent. For an Alabama team that hasn’t had a winning season in two years, moral victories only go so far. It’s time to cash in some karma.

Roll Tide.