Thursday, December 30, 2010

University of Alabama Football Report for 12/31/10: Live from Mouseville

In accordance with mankind's inclination to adapt the environment to one's needs rather than vice versa, the state of Florida is a Frankenstein monster, an animation made from the dying parts of Detroit, Havana, Long Island, and other places. One of the strangest things about Florida is that, past a certain age, hardly anyone in Florida seems to be from Florida. Each community brings their own weirdness with them, or maybe they only become weird once they get here, like a steam valve releasing a lifetime's worth of pressure.


The result is what Harry Crews (Georgia native, but Florida resident) once called "the frenzy," and I can only describe it as a kind of anti-paranoia, a mania that has the locals sticking their thumbs in as many pies as possible. Everyone is up for everything, and no one has thought anything through. This is doubly so during the Christmastime season, when the state's population bloats with out-of-town relatives imposing on snowbirds and college football fans around the country flying in for the season's final huzzahs.


Sparty's followers, would they need to center themselves, could feel at least a modicum of home were they to tour the state's various marinas. Docked side by side, they would see stoop-backed, gray-beard sailors standing afloat their Ford or GM pensions, now named with equal parts pride and mockery: Third Shift, Punched Out, College Education.


For our younger readers, the idea of a company pension must strike them akin to saying their grandfathers all rode unicorns to work and shook Bolivia's finest from dandelions, but, lo, 'twas true. Indeed, in this sepia-toned America of yore, workers were often lured to their labor by the carrot, not held apace with the lash. These being the days when labor unions were for people other than millionaires playing a game on Sundays.


Such labor negotiations matter for Alabama fans, as we wonder if this weekend's contest will be the last we see of juniors Marcel Dareus, Mark Ingram, and Julio Jones. It is Jones particularly we wonder about.


Surprised? You shouldn't be.


Although Ingram will be immortal as the school's first Heisman winner and Dareus will never be forgotten for his performance in last year's championship game, Julio Jones most embodies the current Renaissance of Crimson Tide football. For it was Jones's signing three years ago, more than that of any other current player, where we crossed the Rubicon.


At the time, Alabama football had made news with a high-priced coach and little else. Furthermore, said coach, although heralded with much pomp and excitement, carried anything but a stellar offensive reputation. Were you the top receiver prospect in the state—perhaps the nation—you'd have little reason to jump on this bandwagon. Yet, surprisingly, come signing day, jump he did, which signaled that Alabama was once again a place where elite talent would come to play football.


That is why you hear over 100,000 people howl his name whenever he touches the ball, why a wide receiver is called the toughest player on the team without a raised eyebrow, and why he'll be sorely missed if joins the labor fight a year early following this Saturday. And if he surprises us again by coming back for a fourth campaign?


Well, yesterday I played golf on a naval base with the ghost of Dr. Thompson, teeing a drive headlong into an overhead fleet of Ospreys and today I and my bookie's legbreaker heckled a robot version of Reagan, so let' s just say I've gone native: I'm up for anything and nothing is thought through.


Roll Tide.


Spanish moss, fear and loathing, Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow