Due to violations of team rules during the off season, the University of Alabama Football Report blog’s sense of reverence has been suspended prior to the Arkansas game. Thankfully, Simpson, Johns, Hall, and the other four will be dressed and available.
Last week’s announcement that seven players were serving suspensions staggered throughout three games finally dispelled the myth that Alabama fans live perpetually in the past. The uniforms may not have changed much over 50 years, but Alabama football is totally 21st century, baby.
In a landscape populated by million-dollar coaches (losing coaches, at that!), limited scholarship numbers, big-time television, and BCS payoffs, there’s no room for nostalgic ideas of shaping the will of men through violence, teamwork, and – lost most of all – sacrifice.
Most of all, it’s time to pull the shade away from college football and name it what it is: a five-month long job interview for the NFL, a way to keep gamblers home with their families on the weekend, an excuse to mix alcohol and poor fashion, or perhaps just a way to numb away the rest of the world for a few hours.
In Fredy Neptune, Les Murray’s titular protagonist, shocked by the horrors of war, loses all feeling in his body. His psychic leprosy leads others to perceive him as invincible, but though he can’t feel it, the damage’s done just the same. Fredy’s immunity to pain doesn’t relieve him of empathy, though, and knowledge hits him harder than any fist. In the words of one of Fredy’s companions, “What have we learned from this?”
We have learned what matters. We have learned what things are worth. We have learned what we can get away with. We have learned that the job of the head football coach is to win football games.
We learned this a long time ago, but tomorrow we will choose to forget it again. Tomorrow, Alabama is on the road, on national TV, and almost at full strength. Tomorrow, we will lay our money down, feign ignorance, and cheer.