BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - We've officially entered LSU-Alabama game week, a period that promises to deliver spirited and, most certainly, ugly exchanges between the respected fan bases. And I've got a few quick thoughts on that.
The following isn't a slam on the Alabama fans. Many of them have been very kind to us during previous visits to Tuscaloosa and they truly have a beautiful campus and powerful football program. Instead, this article focuses on a specific group of Louisiana natives PRETENDING to be fans of the Crimson Tide.
And they're not fooling anyone.
It slowly started somewhere around 2008 or 2009 and has certainly become much more prevalent and relentlessly annoying in recent years. Check your Facebook or Twitter account this week and you'll, without a doubt, see someone from some Louisiana city or town loudly proclaiming "Roll Tide!" These Houndstooth-come-lately posers are lifelong residents of our state and have absolutely no ties to the University of Alabama. They, their parents or even kids didn't attend the school.
And believe me, I'm not one of those people who believes you have to attend a school to cheer for its football team. Many LSU fans certainly didn't graduate from Louisiana State University, but for decades, that's been their team through thick and thin on Saturdays, like the Saints have been on Sundays. In the 90s, these Louisiana natives didn't shamelessly buy Miami Hurricanes or Dallas Cowboys Starter jackets. Instead, they went to Tiger Stadium and the Superdome to support teams coached by Curley Hallman and Mike Ditka. To channel a recent Geico ad, "It's what you do." But the pretenders we're talking about never witnessed games at Bryant-Denny Stadium and certainly have no idea the Crimson Tide once played key contests for years at Birmingham's Legion Field.
Yet, these highly-trained social media actors will proudly gloat and proclaim the Crimson Tide has owned LSU in recent years. They'll advertise Alabama's four-game winning streak over the Tigers and boast it'll be five before the weekend is over. And they'll do so in a tone that would actually lead you to believe they're personally responsible.
And again, they're not fooling anyone.
The folks carrying on this charade have no clue who Ray Perkins or Bill Curry are. None. They have no recollection of any LSU-Alabama games before the Obama administration, like Tide legend Derrick Thomas wrecking the Tigers' SEC championship dreams in 1987 or David Browndyke kicking LSU past Bama towards a conference title the following season. They believe "Pigs Fly" is a Disney movie. Shaun Alexander's astonishing and amazing 291 yards rushing in a 26-0 rout of LSU in 1996? Never heard of him. Kevin Faulk bulldozing the Tide on a long, late touchdown run during LSU's 27-0 runaway in 1997? That's really foggy; can't recall that. Rohan to Reed? Nope. Dennis Franchione could be a famous Italian chef for all they know. And the Alabama coach before Nick Saban? "Mike Shula. He was the coach of the 1972 Miami Dolphins, right?"
All a majority of these people know is that Saban once coached at LSU and has delivered tremendous success at Alabama. And they, likewise, know that when they bring this up, it really upsets a lot of Louisiana folk, including yourself. That's IT people. That's basically ALL they're working with. Yes, it's juvenile, simplistic and shallow, a tactic third graders would find immature. These Bama "fans" want to bait and anger you this week, currently cooking up the cheese for their Facebook traps now.
Again, we're not talking about Crimson Tide backers who moved from Alabama to Louisiana. Heck, we're not even talking about people from Louisiana who somehow became Crimson Tide fans when they were young. We are talking about locals who crave your spite, discomfort and attention by pretending to be something they're not, one week out of the year, for roughly the last three or four college football seasons. And once the LSU game passes, they'll have little, if any, interest whatsoever in Alabama's next contest at Mississippi State.
Many of these antagonists are contrarians. Contrarians typically lie in the shadows and wait for a popular opinion to be formed. Once that view is solidified, a contrarian then loudly declares the opposite stance to draw attention to himself/herself in an attempt to appear unique or intelligent. Contrarians quickly become extremely predictable and once again, they're not fooling anyone.
You can admire Saban as the brilliant coach that he is and appreciate the wonders he worked at LSU. Anyone who doesn't think he's one of the two or three best ever to walk the collegiate sideline in the modern era simply isn't being objective. But to say you're from Louisiana and root for Alabama over LSU because Saban coaches the Tide?
You're not serious, right?
There is, without a doubt, a little "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" in all of this as well. Alabama really is the only team that's been able to beat LSU with any consistency during the Les Miles era and all the teams that have failed want some ownership in the Tide's success. Miles is, likewise, easily undefeated against in-state competition with the Tigers, so that's certainly worth mentioning also.
In closing, instead of angrily confronting these passionate, Louisiana based, Alabama-diehards-since-2011 and launching heated and foul language their way this week, take the high road. Kill them with kindness and wish "their team" (try not to laugh uncontrollably) good luck this weekend. Better yet, if you're attending the LSU-Alabama affair, offer them to join your caravan and tag along.
That way, they can finally learn where Tuscaloosa actually is.