(I worked as a Sports Editor from late 2004 until the summer of 2006. This is one of the many columns I was able to save that were originally published in The Sun-Times of Heber Springs, Arkansas.)
The greatest rooting weekend of my adult life just happened and I’m going to waste a couple of inches of space and a few minutes of your – my four loyal readers – time reliving it. If you’re an Alabama fan, you might want to skip ahead to the crossword puzzle in classifieds.
See it all started Thursday night in Tuscaloosa. The Memphis Tigers played a second-round game of the preseason NIT there, against the Crimson Tide. Both teams were ranked, and the Tigers were coming off a first-round defeat of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a Sweet 16 team from a year ago.
Memphis boasts an incoming class of freshman that were ranked anywhere from first to fifth by recruiting analysts. ESPN2 broadcast the game Thursday and it was my first look at the Tigers.
Two minutes in I was giddily laughing to myself at how good Memphis is going to be. It seems like everyone they have is between 6’7” and 6’9” and can put it on the floor and shoot the three. I’ve never seen a Memphis team so loaded, and that includes the Final Four team from 1985 and any team Penny was on in the 90s.
They promptly rolled over the Tide and advanced to Wednesday’s semi-final in Madison Square Garden against UCLA. If they win, Duke awaits Friday. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
Friday, I went to the Shirley and West Side basketball games, and though I don’t have a rooting interest in either, I was treated to probably the best high school game of the young season. For more, see the finely crafted game story on page 1B.
Saturday was the big day. The only important football game of the year was being played at 2:30 on CBS. Of course, I’m talking about the Iron Bowl: Auburn vs. Alabama.
There’s no question that the game is the biggest rivalry in college football. Homes are broken, families are driven into dysfunction and people been murdered because of this game.
If you could still classify it as a game. Auburn won for the fourth straight time and kicked Alabama right out of the BCS picture. The final score shows the Tigers won by 10, but anyone who watched it saw complete domination from Auburn. It was the highlight of my year watching Brody Croyle getting sacked 11 times and Alabama giving up more points than it has in three years.
So, for all you Alabama fans, this should make you feel better: “WAR EAGLE!”
But it didn’t stop there gentle reader. Saturday night my Memphis Tiger football team was playing for its bowl life in Hattiesburg, Mississippi against Southern Miss. Memphis hadn’t won a football game there in the last 10 tries.
Well, that streak came to a close as Wynne native DeAngelo Williams and the Tiger defense denied a late game two-point conversion to win their fifth game of the year and kept their bowl hopes alive.
While the Tigers were taming the Golden Eagles, the Grizzlies were in Utah playing for the best 10-game start in franchise history. I managed to watch both games and witness the Grizzlies handle the Jazz, improving to 7-3 on the young season.
While I was watching the Auburn game on CBS, they teased Sunday’s NFL games and told me that I would be getting the Oakland and Washington game. My Raiders are reeling and were in desperate need of a win. I was pumped that I would get to watch them for only the second time all season.
But when I woke up Sunday, to my shock and dismay I discovered that we would be getting the Jacksonville/Tennessee Titans game. The thought of watching that game reminded me of the taste of bile, so I watched a ‘Sopranos’ episode instead.
Through the miracle of the ticker, I did find out that Oakland indeed did beat the Redskins thanks to a last second Sebastian Janikowski field goal.
Five games involving my teams in three days and they all won. I watched four of the five and would have seen the Raiders if we Arkansas weren’t slaves to what the regional programmers think we want to see – which revolves around Dallas and Jacksonville.
How many of you out there would have rather seen the Tampa Bay/Atlanta game as opposed to Dallas/Detroit? Wait a minute, don’t answer that.
Technically the Grizz played Sunday night, but they lost to the Nuggets so I’m not counting that one.
What a great weekend of sports – unless you’re an Alabama fan. If you are, I just have one more thing to say that might ease your pain: