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Low Tide

by Robb Reel

Let me just say that this is not how champions behave.

The University of Alabama has won three of the last four BCS titles.  The Crimson Tide seemed well on its way to another until this past Saturday.  The trip for the annual game against archrival Auburn ended in wild fashion as the #4 Tigers returned a missed field goal for a touchdown.

It's the kind of play and the kind of conclusion that will be discussed and debated for decades to come.  The 34-28 win for Auburn in the Iron Bowl joins the top tier with "The Game" -- "The band is on the field!" -- and 5th Down.  Doug Flutie's Hail Mary ain't got nothin' on this one.

If only it ended there.

Remember that "fan" is short for "fanatic" when I tell you this:

Some Alabama fans have taken to Twitter to express their frustration and disappointment in very inappropriate ways.  In particular, they have attacked kicker Cade Foster with some very ugly words.  The threats and epithets -- which, you will undoubtedly not be surprised to see, are riddled with incorrect spelling, grammar and usage -- are not only disgraceful; they are as poorly aimed as the three kicks Foster missed that day.

Yes, Foster went 0-for-3 on attempted field goals.  He missed two and a third was blocked.  He did go 4-for-4 on PATs.  He did not, however, even attempt the final kick that resulted in the return for an Auburn touchdown.  That unfortunate honor goes to freshman Adam Griffith.

So even if the ire were appropriate -- which it most certainly is not -- it is clearly misplaced.  Perhaps Alabama fans could do enough homework to be upset with the correct kicker.  Of course, that would involve them actually doing some homework.  There's a reason why discussing academic standards at most Southern colleges, particularly those in the SEC [save for Vanderbilt], often induces uproarious, uncontrollable laughter.

How about the guys on the kicking squad who didn't tackle anybody?

How about the offensive linemen who stared at the returned instead of running downfield, filling their assigned lanes and blocking somebody... anybody?

How about the porous defense that let the Tigers up off the mat in the first place?

These are all appropriate targets for some minor disappointment, as are Foster and Griffith.  Not a one should experience the death, dismemberment or other despicable acts mentioned in some of those tweets.  No one deserves any of that.

Sadly, this is not the first time someone has gone crazy over the Crimson Tide.  This spring, a 64-year-old man was sentenced to three years in jail for poisoning Auburn's iconic Toomer's Corner oak trees in 2010.  Did I mention that Auburn would go on to win the National Championship that year?  Did I mention that the guilty man is a former state trooper?

The older I get, the less I find myself caring about the outcome of a particular game.  Yes, I still get excited over Notre Dame football or my beloved Butler Bulldogs, but that's far more about the experience of the game itself than the final score.  I go to the game or watch it on TV, usually with a few friends, and enjoy it, maybe a little more when my team wins.  Then you know what we do?  We move on.

That's exactly what 'Bama fans need to do now.  The oddest part to all this is how the loss doesn't completely dash the team's hopes for another championship.  A lot more things have to go a certain way for the Tide to get back to the BCS title game, but it's not all that far-fetched.

Stranger things -- such as that kick return -- have happened.