Clever Prank? Or Act of War?
Depends on where you're from.
I think one of the more popular things we as TCU fans like to ridicule about SMU is their overwhelming desire to be an SEC school. They created "The Boulevard." They wear ties to games. They do lots of drugs. However, to the trained eye, there are all sorts of flaws to point out in their ambitions, namely the fact that they have little football tradition to speak of, they play in Conference USA, most of the school doesn't care about football, their students are for the mostly from parts unknown, Dallas is the farthest thing from a college town in these here United States and, most importantly, they don't attend their games. When you can't sell out your own stadium, which holds 33,000, for only your second bowl game in 25 years, you're sadder than Vanderbilt.
However, with the recent events transpiring in the football mad state of Alabama, home to the past two NCAA national champions any denizen of America's most racist state will remind you, it appears that perhaps SMU is on their way to football relevancy after all. I have to assume the majority of you are clearly aware of what went down at Toomer's Corner shortly following the Iron Bowl... but I'm going to over-explain it to you anyway:
Auburn and Alabama hate each other. Like, HATE each other. Like, Texas and Oklahoma don't like each other, and Ohio State and Michigan look down their noses one to the other... but seriously, Auburn and Alabama HATE each other. OU, UT, OSU and Michigan fans have other things to focus on, like a future after college and personal hygiene. Auburn and Bama fans have nothing to aspire to other than to return to the swamps from which they came and call Paul Finebaum's radio show every afternoon in the middle of their 4th heart attack<------ ACTUALLY HAPPENED!!!!!!
So Auburn beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa this year in one of the more schizophrenic games of the season and elevated Cam Newton from, "That asshole Auburn paid to deliver them a championship who is going to fall hilariously short against Alabama and make the money all for naught" to "That asshole who Auburn paid to deliver them a championship who is actually going to fucking do it and WHY GOD WHY?!?!" And while Alabama, in the big scheme of things had little to play for, the fact that their second half collapse opened the door for their most hated rival and little brother to play for a National Championship arguably stung worse than losing out on the title game themselves. In a normal situation, the fans would let the loss fester for a few days and move on. But Alabama is no collection of normal human beings.
Fast forward to this week in Tuscaloosa:
Look familiar? Well it should, because it's the exact same rye grass tactic implemented by the SMU band back in 2000 that left Amon G looking as it did above. If you can't read it, or if the entire image doesn't show up, that's the score of the Iron Bowl, won by Auburn 28-27, in off color grass form somewhere on the campus at Alabama.
To be honest, and it may have been different had I been in school then, but I thought the whole SMU prank was actually pretty clever. Yes, I guess it's a bit of a black eye, and it's annoying as all hell to remove those bits of grass from the stadium, but that's a job for the physical plant and doesn't concern me. But, from what I can tell, everyone recognized the humor of the situation and pretty much let it go. After all, we DID win the game... and 10 of the next 11 after that.
But, therein lies the difference between the Metroplex and the Dirty South, because Alabama fan Harvey Almorn, apparently using his clairvoyance to forsee herbological events of this week, took it upon himself to travel to Auburn following the Iron Bowl and handle the situation himself at Auburn's holiest of sites, Toomer's Corner. Again, for the dummies, Toomer's Corner is a pharmacy in Auburn with some very old, sprawling trees that Auburn fans roll with TP following a victory. It's a silly tradition, but it's a tradition nonetheless and one that they are proud of. So what better way to hit your rival where they hurt? Piss on their traditions... except in this case the pee was terroristic quantities of herbicide.
Yep, Harvey Almorn KILLED THE DAMNED TREES!!!!
That's pretty epic. It may sound dumb, but you have to understand - Toomer's Corner is Auburn's little slice of aggy. This would be akin to a Tech fan going to College Station and getting his necrophilia on with the corpses of all the departed Revelie's... which I wouldn't put past any of that kind. Almorn is now all sorts of locked up while a team of horticulturists work around the clock to try and save the trees, a fight that looks to be not going so well. Meantime, Auburn fans have been holding around the clock vigils at the Corner, the police have been called in to guard all of the pertinent Bear Bryant related landmarks in Tuscaloosa, and one of the best rivalries in the country adds another glamorous chapter
Keep in mind - Alabama WON THE TITLE LAST YEAR!!! It's not like Auburn took the Tide's one chance away from them - they have one of the best coaches in the country, a top recruiting class, and will be a favorite for the 2011 title. Meantime, Auburn spent all of their money on this year's championship and will quickly fade back into also ran status in their own division. Alabama, despite being under said championship halo, CLEARLY has the upper hand in this rivalry going forward. Everyone is due an off year... and even in that off year they finished 9-3 and beat the ever loving piss out of a top 10 team in their bowl game. The molding hasn't even dried on Saban's statue. This type of irrational hate, despite the sunny outlook going forward, is noted and applauded.
Regardless, once they stop laughing at the childishly awesome nature of what happened, the major media pundits are going to get on their high horses, lambast the idiocy of the typical SEC fan like they always do, and hippies from all over the world will start populating the trees in Opelika County to avoid any further herbicide. Personally? I hate trees. As a homeowner, I've come to find out that, despite their giving of shade and, supposedly, making the air breathable for us humans, they're financial burdens and tend to fall on your neighbor's which causes tension and results in extortion from your local "arborist" to clean the SOB up. But, I can appreciate Auburn's outrage as well - if some SMU fan came to Fort Worth and made the Oui, my personal favorite TCU landmark and post game tradition uninhabitable, I'd be up in arms as well, regardless of how menial the act would be in the grand scheme of things. To be fair, the Oui still hasn't added the Pogues to their jukebox, which is inviting all sorts of bad karma its direction.
So what does this really have to do with SMU hate? Well, isn't it plain to see? They're the real culprits here! If their band doesn't come to Fort Worth and drop rye grass on the field, then a decade later an Auburn fan might not have the inspiration to do the same thing to Alabama's yard! And then the trees would still be alive. And if SMU hadn't inspired such a future act, perhaps Cam Newton never comes to Auburn and TCU plays and wins the National Championship this year! Don't you see, SMU is really just a shadow organization playing God with the rest of the college football universe! They traded their souls to the devil for football success in the 1980s - wouldn't it make sense that ol' Beezlebub himself would develop an affinity for the Ponies over the next 30 years? And that he would come to despise TCU's success, thus plotting our eventual letdown despite having a perfect season and the perfect team to destroy Oregon in a championship setting? Where do you think June Jones' gets his coaching prowess? Why do you think SMU is signing recruits away from Southern California? Why do you think all of those kids have died of drug overdoses? Because their school President is the devil with an R. Gerald Turner dress on! As a non-BCS school, the Ponies exclaim death to the BCS and all of that nonsense, when in reality they're the reason for the failure of the system! You think Craig James would've come to Dallas without an arrangement with the Prince of Darkness mirroring the one he later carried on with Saddam Hussein? Please.
All that's to say, by planting those seeds back in 1990, SMU paved the way for college football's corruption, culminating in a player who openly solicited his recruitment winning a national championship and a bunch of old trees dying. When the college football establishment burns to the ground and Yao Padron is there dancing on the ashes, don't say I didn't warn you.
And that's today's lesson in SMU hate.