It is so easy for Crimson Tide fans and fans of other SEC football teams to make fun of the Auburn Tigers. The failed attempt to discredit and thereby pave the way to firing Bryan Harsin was the latest of a long history of Auburn missteps.
There is a new narrative about Harsin now. As reported by al.com’s Nubyjas Wilborn, the Auburn Board of Trustees had nothing to do with the attempt to fire Harsin. The source for that statement is Auburn trustee Jimmy Rane.
In summation, Wilborn wrote,
Is Rane telling the truth? Who knows? But, for now, it doesn’t matter. Harsin has around 100 days before the Tigers begin a pivotal season.
Wilborn is right. Fact or fiction, Auburn football needs a return to normalcy. That begs the question is Auburn capable of bouncing back from a horrendous season that closed with five consecutive losses. Or, could the 2022 season be worse?
A beginning step for any entity seeking what it wants to become is a sober acceptance of what it is. As we discussed in a recent post on college football reality checks, for the Auburn football program, accepting what it is, has often been a challenge. Auburn, the place, the school, the football program are somewhat like the Brigadoon legend. According to Webster the meaning of Brigadoon is “a place that is idyllic, unaffected by time, or remote from reality.”
In varying degrees, Auburn is, at least at times, all those things. A current example is the Tigers’ 2022 home opener. Auburn opens with Mercer Saturday night, Sept. 3.
There is no shame in playing Mercer (although there should be). Alabama does it and every SEC school schedules lightweights. But there is a reason Auburn should be embarrassed about the game and the Tigers have brought it on themselves.
Auburn has made the Mercer contest a Whiteout Game. Whiteouts are great, as was the one last season in State College.
SEC Football does not need such gimmickry
But building fan engagement through a Whiteout against an FCS team makes no sense. Do the Tigers think fan frenzy in Jordan-Hare is necessary to beat Mercer? Or is the promotion a foolish overreaction to not having a night game on Sept. 17 for a ‘real’ Whiteout against Penn State?
Bemoaning no night game for the Nittany Lions, Brian Stultz wrote for Rivals,
When the sun sets and the lights come on at Jordan-Hare Stadium, things of the unexpected have become expected. There’s something magical, almost an auspicious moment when the turf’s lit up, the fans at their most hype and the Tigers on the field battling in an atmosphere that must resemble a Greek coliseum centuries ago. So many opposing teams that were more talented came in and wilted under pressure.
There will be nothing magical about the Mercer game.
Maybe the Tigers are worried the size of the crowd will be small and needs a marketing boost as a remedy. No matter how much the gimmick increases the size of the crowd, using it for such an insignificant game is pathetic. It will set a new low for the Auburn program and in a way perhaps it makes sense. No matter how poor the 2022 record, the low will be a Mercer game Whiteout.