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I used to live in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a football crazy town if there’s ever been one. I now live in Auburn, Alabama and I have not seen anything like it, not even in Michigan that would compare.

This coming Monday the Auburn Tigers, #1 in the nation, will meet the Oregon Ducks, #14 in the nation. Looking at it entirely objectively, Jimmy the Greek style, a team named the Tigers against a team named the Ducks; do I have to say anything more? Tigers have Ducks for breakfast!

OK, if you don’t buy that how about this, #1 versus #14? Isn’t that obvious. Give me a break. All this hype about the challenge of the game. This should be a cakewalk. “Shhh!” Says my colleague down the hall, “Don’t say that, you are going to jinx them.” A jinxed Tiger is not a pretty sight.

Walking down the hall we see ducks facing all manner of injury along the way. This one paid the ultimate price in front of Colleen Trent’s office.

They say it will snow in Auburn Sunday night and Monday, not just the usual winter dusting, but plenty of snow, enough to close the campus, they forecast. You wouldn’t know it for the fans. While the game will take place in Glendale, Arizona, thousands of Tiger fans are already convening on campus at Auburn. They will tailgate, just as if the game was going to be held at Jordan-Hare Stadium across the parking lot. They will pull the LCD screens from the side of the RVs with the satellite dish on top, or go into the Alumni Center and watch it on a big screen, or the Student Center where every monitor will be tuned to the game, which is being held two thousand miles away. Here’s today’s pep rally for Auburn in Arizona.

A friend who is a frustrated pro-football player just bought two tickets for Monday, $2,300.00 a piece. Add airfare, hotels, special events connected with the game and it’s about five grand per head. “Cheap at twice the price.” Says my friend, who also placed a large bet on the side.

Hope the Tigers win; otherwise it will be a sad day around here. Probably the campus has never seen a sadder day if we lose. “Shhhh!” Says my colleague, “you are definitely going to jinx them.” I decided to shut up just in case somebody blamed me for the loss.

The University owns a very nice hotel on campus where its academic Hospitality Program gives their students valuable practice and for this “day of the game” you can come by the bar and enjoy a full duck menu. There will be duck canapés, duck sandwiches, duck entrees. There will be Tiger fans, symbolically devouring the competition all day and night.  I’m glad we are not facing the Bulldogs.

The irony that the BCS Championship game of January 10th 2011 is that it will be held at the University of Phoenix Stadium. The University of Phoenix of course has no football team, just a stadium. Some will question the reason why UoP, the largest Capitalized University in the world, would name a stadium where its students will never play. Not me, I find it perfectly reasonable.

It seems every conversation on campus this week began with a mention of the game, the players, gossip about the sports staff, predictions based on logic drawn from what seems to me intimate knowledge of every aspect of each team’s capabilities. I’ve been very impressed. I like football but I don’t know enough about it to enter the conversation productively, so I’m silently in awe. After all my sport at the university was Billiards.

My senior colleagues have much experience with championship games that the Tigers have not won. But today they contribute profound comments that discuss the ethos and philosophy of the game, similar to what one typically hears when discussing research findings, not a game…A GAME! “Shhh! You are going to jinx them.”

I am a fan of the Tigers and I really like my colleagues and this university is a good place to practice the crafts of teaching and research. I own Tigers monogrammed socks, slippers, ties, vests, caps, umbrellas and other “spirit” merchandise which I hope will show that I’m a faithful Tiger.  I cancelled my class on Monday and postponed it to Thursday, primarily because by co-instructor is in Glendale. (Here’s an interview with him from Arizona).  I’ll be watching too from the comfort of my home. For me it is an unusual event, to see that the kid usually running down the hall lugging a backpack full of books, is the same kid that brings art to carrying a ball across the field.

Oh, about the eagle in the title of this post… Before each home football game, the battle cry Warrrr Eagle can be heard in the stadium as War Eagle VII, Auburn’s golden eagle, gracefully circles the stadium and lands flawlessly at midfield.  Say hi to Nova.

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