The current system in college football makes for strange bedfellows. Because the margin for error is so slim, and one loss can derail a potentially magical season, most teams with championship aspirations are left at some point rooting for another school to handle its dirty work.
Not only does the phrase "my enemy's enemy is my friend" constitute words to live by in college football, but the actual schools that qualify as one's "enemy" (and, in turn, those that a school would consider one's "friends") are constantly in motion.
Take Alabama, for example.
Two weeks ago, heading into their home game with Texas A&M, Alabama was atop the BCS rankings, controlling their own destiny as they were in the midst of a run to their second consecutive national championship. The list of teams that constituted true enemies for Alabama was short and clear -- Auburn, LSU, Florida, pretty much the entire SEC. Those teams are and always will be considered adversaries for Alabama.
But the Aggies rolled into Tuscaloosa, and by the time the afternoon was over, the Aggies were leaving with a 29-24 win and Alabama's world (and championship hopes) had been turned on its ear.
All of a sudden, Alabama was 9-1 and sitting behind three undefeated teams in the BCS rankings. All of a sudden, the Crimson Tide no longer controlled their own destiny. They needed help. All of a sudden, the list of enemies for Alabama included Kansas State, Oregon, and Notre Dame.
And even scarier, by definition, that meant that the Tide's list of friends this past weekend included the opponents of those undefeated teams -- namely, Baylor (playing Kansas State), Stanford (playing Oregon), and Wake Forest (playing Notre Dame). Having these three schools as your friend would be fine if you needed help in a spelling bee, but having these three schools as your friend trying to reopen your avenue to a BCS title in football? Not so much.
Still, it is what it is, and conventional wisdom said that Alabama needed two of those three "enemy" schools to lose a game, if not this past weekend, then sometime before the end of the regular season for the Tide to sneak back into "control their own destiny status," with wins over Auburn and in the SEC Title game over Georgia then getting Alabama a trip to Miami on January 7.
Who knew that both of the necessary losses would actually come just one week after A&M wunderkind quarterback Johnny "Football" Manziel seemingly shattered the hopes and dreams of poor little Alabama children everywhere?
It started in Waco, where the Baylor Bears (4-5 record, 1-5 in the Big XII at kickoff) completely trounced Heisman frontrunner Collin Klein and the Kansas State Wildcats by a score of 52-24. From early in the third quarter on, that game was never in doubt. Kansas State was completely exposed as merely the tallest midget in a Big XII conference that has become more and more flawed by the week.
So with that piece of business in the bag, and with Notre Dame being uncooperative to the Alabama cause earlier in the day with a 38-0 shutout of Wake Forest, it was all left up to Stanford, a three touchdown underdog to the Oregon Ducks.
Stanford hung in all night, played typical hard-nosed Stanford football, and with a late touchdown they tied the game at 14 and sent it into overtime. Oregon started off overtime with a missed field goal bouncing off the left upright, so all Stanford had to do to pull off the shocking upset and, in theory, put Alabama back in the driver's seat for a berth in the national title game was simply make a field goal.
On that subsequent possession after the Oregon miss, Stanford worked their way into field goal position. From here, I could describe the moment to you. The tension, the atmosphere, I could give you a very vivid description. Or, through the magic of YouTube, we can head into the living room of some Alabama fans and experience it for ourselves.
And that's where we pick up the video below. Watch, enjoy, and I will Zapruder this baby on the other side (h/t to outkickthecoverage.com for the video):
0:01 -- From a camera angle whose feel can best be described as "same room voyeuristic," we see four Alabama fans. How do I know they are Alabama fans? Well, the Alabama wall banner, Alabama pennant, and above-the-door Alabama decal within about six feet of each other are all dead giveaways, not to mention the crimson sofa with the houndstooth pillows. Oh, also, the long sleeve Alabama t-shirt (complete with the words "ALABAMA" written down the sleeves) on one of the large males in the room, which I have to assume was purchased after the big title win over Miami in 1992 (since that's about the time "writing on the sleeves" long sleeved t-shirts went out of style). Aside from the one skinny dude with the white t-shirt and the blonde "Bama bangs," the rest of the room looks like they're no stranger to the Dreamland Barbecue, if you know what I mean. If this foursome were a WWE wrestling faction, they'd be announced as being "at a total combined weight 989 pounds."
0:03 -- Yikes! In comes the woman responsible for setting up the camera on whatever tripod it rests. (Definition of "tripod:" stack of books and/or empty Big Mac cartons) She skips in gleefully, prompting (a) the neighbors to report the first ever earthquake in Tuscaloosa history and (b) me to readjust my WWE style introduction for this now FIVE person faction..."at a total combined weight of 1,287 pounds."
By the way, before any of you make me the bad guy for basically turning this pathetic display of college football whore-ism into a backdrop for me to make a bunch of fat jokes about these people, allow me to point out two things:
1. There was a moment where at least one of them, and possibly all of them, thought to themselves (or out loud) "Ya know what? This Stanford school is about to do us a dang favor! Maw, let's use the camera thingie on your wireless pocket phone and film us reactin' to it!"
2. They then decided to upload it to YouTube, a public domain. Two words -- FAIR. GAME.
On with the Zapruder....
0:10 -- Add another piece of superfluous Alabama swag as the "daughter" (I have no idea if that girl is daughter of any of these people, but she looks about that age, so she will be "Daughter" from here on out.) screams at the television into her megaphone, because the Stanford kicker might not hear her indoor voice, but if she points a megaphone at the TV and screams into it like a kindergartener, he will probably hear her and become inspired.
0:21 -- We will call the two heavy-set adult males in this video "Cooter" (long sleeved t-shirt guy) and "Billy Bob" (baseball hat guy). Billy Bob walks over to Cooter and puts him in a one armed, half man hug, officially taking this from a football moment to "sum'n me and you is gonna talk 'bout like FER EVER, COOT!!!"
0:24 -- Billy Bob begins jumping up and down. Neighbors are now phoning authorities about aftershocks.
0:36 -- We will refer to the woman who set up the camera as "Maw" (Alabam-ese for "Ma"). Maw points at the television and wonders out loud "How many yards is it?" Uh oh, we are about to watch these Alabama fans have to handle ADDITION...or as Cooter and Billy Bob call it, "PLUSSING." If there was an all-Alabama edition of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?", the uber-difficult final question would probably ask the contestant to calculate the distance on a field goal based on the line of scrimmage. And most of them would need a lifeline. To wit...
0:40 -- ...Maw: "Is it 43 (yards)? 43? Yeah, it's 43..." THAT actually happened. Only one problem -- it was 37 yards. Moral of the story: don't use Maw as your "field goal distance calculation" lifeline on Alabama "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?".
0:47 -- Bama bangs kid, heretofore referred to as "B.J." (short for "Billy Bob, Jr.", I'm assuming he's Billy Bob's son.), lets out a primal scream for really no apparent reason, so his ability to speak English is still very much in question. (SPOILER ALERT: This specimen never ends up talking in the whole video. B.J. is like a skinny version of George "The Animal" Steele. Grunts and screams, that's it.)
1:00 -- Oregon head coach Chip Kelly uses a time out, ostensibly to ice the Stanford kicker, but really all he's doing is icing Billy Bob and Cooter, who begin pacing the joint like two caged mastodons and in the process doubling their total exercise for the entire calendar year of 2012.
1:08 -- Billy Bob nervously bangs on the wall and walks over to Cooter. He points at the television and says dramatically "It's come down to this." Well yeah, triple chin...this, and then your entitled ass still having to win three more games.
1:18 -- We are getting a long look at Cooter from a side angle and there's a decent chance he is hiding Nick Saban underneath his long sleeve tee.
1:34 -- Billy Bob, easily the most vocal of all these people, is calmly saying "One time, let's go..." which verbally makes him Winston Churchill compared to the rest of this crew. If you're keeping track of the verbal chops of this portly Bama bunch:
Billy Bob: Winston Churchill Cooter: Possibly mute B.J.: George "The Animal" Steele Daughter: Screams nonsense into a megaphone Maw: Still working on math, hasn't gotten to English yet
At this point, the irony of Alabama fans and their 50 word vocabularies rooting for help from Stanford, a school where they probably invented 50 new, legitimate words in their literature classes this week, is absolutely delicious. Alabama's most famous football fans are known for poisoning trees and draping their scrotums on the faces of rival fans. Stanford's most famous football fan is Condoleeza Rice. In short, "ironic" doesn't begin to describe the essence of a school like Stanford handling Alabama's dirty work for them....in FOOTBALL.
1:43 -- The field goal is....GOOD! This sends Billy Bob, Cooter, and Maw into some random three way hug swap that looks like a mating ritual I saw during "Elephant Week" on Animal Planet.
1:46 -- For a brief moment (you have to look for it), Billy Bob thinks about picking up Maw in celebration, before realizing that "in traction" is probably a shitty way to watch the Auburn game next weekend.
1:53 -- After ten seconds of screaming, jumping, and presumably sweating (profusely), Daughter and B.J. decide to run outside and celebrate Stanford's win over Oregon like Alabama just won another BCS title. Seriously, a Pac-12 game has sent these morons into such a tizzy that they are immediately searching for other Tide fans to hug. A field goal made by a kicker whose SAT score probably exceeded the combined SAT score of Alabama's defensive two deep has become a life altering event. Needless to say, Billy Bob and Cooter are right behind them.
1:58 -- Maw wants some of that celebration, too, but first she needs to pick up the family dog, and toss it toward the ceiling in celebration. She then tucks this poor creature under her arm like a Virginia ham and runs outside so she can scream "ROLL TIDE! ROLL TIDE!!!" over the result of a football game that didn't involve Alabama.
2:10 -- Maw realizes "Wait just a gosh darned second...why am I not filmin' the outside part of where we live, too?!" So she waddles back inside with her dog (whose rib cage may have been snapped in half by now) clutched against her chest, grabs the camera off the stack of empty Big Mac cartons, and waddles back outside. Now, we will get to see the lap of luxury where this family of Tide supporters calls home. Wait for it....wait for it...yep, just as I suspected...
2:19 -- ...they live at a La Quinta.
2:40 -- One final salvo from Billy Bob: "Wooooo, we back in the hunt..."
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Indeed, Billy Bob. You are. Now, can we get someone to show this video to Nick Saban? I'm pretty sure he would have them all publicly executed (or at least implement a hot fudge and red meat embargo on them) for looking past Auburn.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.