Friday, September 18, 2009
The Battle of Austerlitz was a victory so thorough, so decisive, this messy old world may never see its like again. Catalogued among the fallout one will find the securing of Napoleon’s claim as Emperor of the French and Protector of the Confederation of the Rhine, the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, the subjugation of Russia and Austria, and, as a commemorative marker, arguably the tackiest lagniappe in history, the Arc de Triomphe.
And though Napoleon believed the victory at Austerlitz the finest of his career, it also may have seeded his ultimate undoing. Having his enemies capitulate to even his most audacious demands in abject surrender, the little emperor believed himself infallible, perhaps invulnerable, perhaps divine.
Legend has it that upon his return from exile, Napoleon secured the very battalion sent to drag him to Paris in an iron cage by marching alone before them, shirtless, crying, “If any of you would kill your emperor, fire your rifles now!”
To a man, they joined his rebellion.
Thus did Napoleon confuse his own ambition with the good of France. Or so the historians would have us believe—British ones, at that—so consider the source.
Two cases bring the Moravian countryside to mind. First is the matter of Alabama’s game against North Texas, a game that, should everything follow form, should meet the criteria of decisive victory for our Crimson Tide’s own little emperor.
And, the game being Alabama’s first appearance this season in the ESPN regionally broadcast hangover game, the clock should tick down just in time to switch over to another potential slaughter: Tennessee at Florida.
What else can be said about Lane Kiffin and Tennessee? Some have posited that all this hoopla is but fuel for his planned machination. And, in truth, as a thirty-point underdog, Tennessee’s roster needs only to leave the state of Florida outside a body bag to surpass expectations.
To put this in perspective, the line on a game between two SEC division rivals is only eight points lower than the line on Alabama’s game against a Sun Belt opponent openly talking about firing its head coach two games into the season. The Volunteers enter the Swamp tomorrow with no pressure, yes, but also no hope.
Rather than some arch politico or refugee from Sterling Cooper, perhaps Lane Kiffin is exactly as he seems. Young, brash, largely ignorant to the world of consequence, and, by virtue of his family connections, in way, way, way over his head.
Were he not such an effrontit asshole, I’d almost pity him.