College football is back, which means that for the next four months just about everyone you know or ever knew or could meet won’t be at the grocery store on a Saturday afternoon.
There’s a running joke in the Deep South about people losing friends planning fall weddings. Is not true. It’s a myth. We’re not that crazy. People can skip the wedding, but it’s nothing personal.
However, it is a fact of life that every grocery store in the Deep South will have more employees on staff on Saturday afternoons than the number of customers in the stores. How is the obsession in Birmingham, Alabama? A sterile grocery store at 5 pm on Saturday.
In the deep south, you always run into someone you know at the local Publix. It never fails. People dress up to go buy hamburger meat because of that. I’m not kidding. it’s one thing. On Saturdays in the fall, though, you’ll just see clear aisles and stocked shelves at grocery stores in entire cities. That’s the power of college football in the Deep South.
RELATED: Is it finally time for Bo Nix to piss off Georgia?
RELATED: Bryan Harsin wants Auburn to stay hungry
RELATED: Nick Saban says rat poison is ‘worse than ever’
GOOD MAN: Alabama flattened the charts, but Georgia is built differently
GOOD MAN: Life after Bill Clark begins with fireworks for the UAB
We like to eat in this part of the world, but there’s an apocalyptic nothing about Piggly Wiggly when it comes time to kick off.
Welcome to College Football 2022, folks. It’s House Party season in the Deep South and there’s nothing like it anywhere else in the country. breathe. Stock up on ribs, chicken, and steaks before the weekend. The air begins to thin just in time for our waistlines to begin their annual growth patterns.
If you haven’t gained 20 pounds by Thanksgiving, then you’re either doing something wrong or your team has already fired their coach.
From that perspective, this could be the healthiest drop in Auburn football history.
The Tigers begin the season with coach Bryan Harsin already feeling the heat after a turbulent offseason. How did we get here? Well, it started when former Auburn quarterback Bo Nix entered the transfer portal on December 12, 2021.
I’ve always been a fan of Nix, and will continue to be this season now that he’s in Oregon. Why Oregon?
“When you look at Oregon from a national standpoint,” Nix said at the Oregon preseason media day, “all the kids in the South, where I come from, have kids wearing Oregon all the time. So Oregon is a national brand and it’s something I wanted to be a part of.”
There was more to the decision than that, of course.
Nix said in spring training that his Oregon teammates look up to him because “I’ve been through so much.”
That’s an elusive understatement if I’ve ever heard one.
Throughout his entire career, even as early as high school, Nix was surrounded by the perpetual controversies of Auburn.
When Nix was a senior at Pinson Valley and rated the number one dual-threat quarterback prospect in the country, his commitment to former Auburn coach Gus Malzahn is what helped Malzahn keep his job. Nix then won the Iron Bowl as a freshman and Malzahn got an extension.
However, the following year, Malzahn was gone.
Enter Harsin, who fired his first offensive coordinator, Mike Bobo, after last season’s Iron Bowl. Nix, who could probably coach an offense himself at this point in his career, had seen enough. He went to Oregon, but after that, Harsin still had to replace another offensive coordinator.
Nix moved as far away from Auburn as possible, and no one can blame him for that. He needed a fresh start. After his career, he deserved the chance to compete for a spot in the College Football Playoff. Auburn wasn’t going to give him that chance.
Nix was a young Auburn fan when Cam Newton led the Tigers against Oregon in the 2011 BCS national championship. I hope Nix can now be the Ducks’ version of Newton, a senior transfer at quarterback leading a team to the playoffs.
“The ability that we have, the skill set that we put out there,” Nix said of Oregon, “if we go out there and compete, we’re going to be really good.”
“I wanted a chance to play in the playoffs,” he added, “and with my skill set I know I could contribute. And with the guys that we have here, we’re obviously loaded.”
Is there a path to the college football playoff for Oregon? You could argue that the Ducks could sneak into the CFP even with a loss to Georgia earlier in the season. If Oregon wins against the Dawgs, and I think the Ducks can, then Nix would suddenly be a Heisman Trophy contender.
For what it’s worth, Oregon is a 17-point underdog. However, this matchup feels closer than that. Georgia lost a lot of starters from its national championship team (15 players were selected), and Oregon has experience. On top of that, new Oregon coach Dan Lanning is familiar with everything Georgia does. He was the defensive coordinator for Georgia last season.
Nix can be the magnet Oregon was missing like Newton was for Auburn, a player who ties everything together.
Newton left Florida because Tim Tebow was ahead of him on the Gators’ roster. But Newton also had a lot of growing up to do. He went to junior college before deciding on Auburn for his senior year.
I’m not saying Nix is going to be as good as Newton this season; Newton arguably had the greatest single-player season in college football history, but Nix has more experience at this point in his career than almost any other quarterback in college. . His journey to Oregon is unprecedented. Nix was not a perpetual backup for Auburn. He was an established starter for three years. He is a great player no matter what anyone may say against him…and Nix has heard it all from all sides.
Auburn helped him grow, but that crazy Southern obsession drove him away.
It’s funny how things turn out though.
Nix, now an Auburn graduate, is back in the Deep South this weekend for a game against the Tigers’ longtime rivals. Alabama is playing Utah State to start the season and Auburn has Mercer, but the game with more interest than any other will be Oregon vs. Georgia.
Auburn and Alabama are bringing different expectations to the House Party season this fall, but everyone in the grocery store can cheer for Bo Nix.
Joseph Goodman is a columnist for the Alabama Media Group, and author of “We Love Bama: A Season of Hope and the Making of Nick Saban’s ‘Ultimate Team’”. You can find him on Twitter @JoeGoodmanJr.