The Auburn-Alabama Rivalry Has Pretty Much Lost Any Connection To Reality
Auburn-Alabama is one of the signature rivalries in college football. Two historically strong programs, two outrageously passionate fanbases, one football-crazed state with no major pro sports teams, they're both in the same conference and play each other each year in one of the signature rivalry games (the Iron Bowl) - it's a perfect formula for rancor. But it's possible these two teams have gotten too good for the rivalry's own, um, good. Alabama won the national title in 2010. Auburn took it this year (narrowly beating Alabama in a huge comeback along the way). And the ramped-up Iron Bowl stakes seem to have some of the more extreme fans on each side doing things that go beyond sports hate and into truly creepy territory.
You know about the case of Harvey Updyke, and today, unfortunately, from Alabama blog I Bleed Crimson Red comes evidence of some Auburn fans who are, at the least, getting way too into the idea of doing some seriously shady stuff. The basis for it: a photo of Alabama running back Trent Richardson (via SPORTSbyBROOKS) outside a vehicle the fans deemed suspicious. This led to conspiracy theories about how maybe Richardson didn't press charges after he was the victim of a hit-and-run accident earlier this summer because then it would be revealed Richardson obtained the vehicle through illicit means.
And things went way downhill from there. A screenshot of how the conversation (from Auburn's premium fan message board on Rivals) went is available here, but the worst of it started when a fan said the following:
"I think the easiest way to get to the bottom of this is to send someone from the Bunker to tuscaloosa undercover to just drive around until they spot Richardson in his SUV and get into a little fender-bender with him. Any volunteers?"
Maybe it was intended entirely as a joke. Hard to say. But also...maybe not. And that would be just...ugh. And later, another poster mentions "Well, we sent AuburnProud to Huntsville to give [Mark] Ingram a little going away present." AuburnProud, IBleedCrimsonRed found, described himself as a "long-haul trucker." Last month, Mark Ingram was in a minor accident with an 18-wheeler. If you don't like how this is sounding, you're not alone.
Okay, maybe the Ingram stuff was a joke too. And we'd guess that nothing nefarious will actually happen regarding Richardson. But we do think that this rivalry is spiraling way, way out of control. Even hinting at doing stuff like this is crossing the line, and as the sad case of Updyke proved, some extreme elements won't stop at thinking up a crazy idea. We love college football - the passion, the rivalries, the pride. We don't love stuff like this. I Bleed Crimson Red mentioned the "critics" who think "the Iron Bowl rivalry has gotten too far out of hand." But with stuff like this making the rounds, what else is there to think?
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