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A Thanksgiving Memory From the 2005 Iron Bowl Causes Reason for Thanks Today

The old guy at Touchdown Alabama gives you some memories that will give you reason to give a special thanks this Thanksgiving for something you may take for granted.

Need Something to be Thankful For This Thanksgiving? Try This.

A Thanksgiving Memory From the 2005 Iron Bowl Causes Reason for Thanks Today

By: Larry Burton

At the magazine here, I’m the old guy. Today’s youthful great writers here run circles around me in energy and productivity but there’s still something to be gained from having an old guy around. At 60 years old, I’ve lived through and seen more than today’s youth and in some senses, have a greater sense of history since I’ve lived through so much of it. I might also have a greater appreciation for today’s glory years, because this is the second time I’ve been to the mountain top. I was at Alabama when coach Bryant went back to back in national championships and then had to suffer through the dark years until the glimmer of hope in 1992 and then back to the dark years before Saban.

I’m working the press box this weekend in Auburn for Touchdown Alabama and then last time I was there was way back in 2005. Mike Shula was the coach then and Alabama was having a so so year going into that Iron Bowl, they were 8-2 going into the game. Earlier in the year Tennessee blew them out 41-14 and Arkansas beat them in a heartbreak 20-19. Southern Miss, Mississippi State and LSU played us right down to the wire, but Alabama was optimistic going into the Iron Bowl against an Auburn team with only seven wins.

I remember that day well. It was a beautiful fall day, the Tiger tailgaters were all set up and I mingled with some of the Tiger and Tide fans before going into the museum and then on to the stadium. The Tiger fans weren’t too vocal to the folks in Tide attire and neither side really had a feel that one was that much better than the other.

Auburn was enjoying a three game winning streak over the Tide and Tommy Tuberville entered the Tiger Walk holding up four fingers in full anticipation of that streak continuing. In fact, that streak would continue, not just on that day, but for for two more years after that. Still as of the bright sunny day, we Alabama folks had no idea that would happen and felt good about our chances.

That was until the game started. It became known as “Honk if you sacked Brodie Croyle” game. Alabama’s linemen couldn’t hold back Auburn’s defensive line better than a fishing net could keep out water. It was 21-0 in the first quarter and the game mercifully ended 28-18 in a game that was never as close as that final score might have made it look. Only a last second TD by Alabama saved a little face.

After the game, the Auburn the Auburn crowd was a lot more lively and friendly jabs and comments ensued. The only comeback I had was that our majorettes were prettier. It got some laughs.

Alabama ended that year 10-2 thanks to a last second field goal in the Cotton Bowl and though a ten win season sounded like not so dim in the dark ages, all ten wins were vacated by the NCAA for a textbook scandal and Alabama’s official record for 2005 stood at 0-2 for the year. Still even walking away from that Auburn defeat in 2005, the team seemed close to coming back, we had a chance and did get a 10 win season that year, before they they were all taken away. But we didn’t know that any progress that had been made through 2004 and 2005 would take giant steps backward soon. The 2006 year brought us the worst of times and the best of times. It brought us a 6-7 season, a disgrace for Alabama, but it also brought us Nick Saban.

So as I go back into Jordan-Hare Stadium this weekend, I go back with the same optimism I had way back in 2005, but with a lot more profound sense of thanks.

I have lived life on top of the mountain, sunk to the low depths of despair in the dark years only to now be enjoying being on top once again. In a way, I pity the fans who only have enjoyed this current run of good fortune and glory. I think I enjoy more for having enjoyed it once before and then having it taken from me for so long. I think by living through all that, I appreciate the program more and take it for granted a lot less. I’ve seen how fast it can all go away and how long it can stay away.

So win or lose Saturday, I’ll walk out of the Jordan-Haie press box a much happier man than I was in 2005 because I know I still have some time on the peak and can enjoy that life and that view for a little while longer. My Thanksgiving prayer is that Alabama fans stop and take a breath and just experience all that this run has given them and file that feeling away. Some day, it will be gone and the rebuilding will begin anew. This is Alabama and it’s not a question of if, but when it does take a dip back down, the memory of this being on the mountain now will sustain you as it did for us old folks who had to remember the glory years of coach Bryant. But as I say, this is Alabama and no one can keep us down for long. So this Thanksgiving, give thanks for that.

Larry has been published in almost every media outlet for college sports and now primarily writes here for Touchdown Alabama. Follow Larry on Twitter for inside thoughts and game time comments at


Larry Burton is a member of the Football Writers of America Association (FWAA) and was the most read SEC and Alabama football writer during his time at Bleacher Report. He has been credentialed by all the major bowls and the University of Alabama. Larry provides some of the best insight in the business through his "Larry's Lowdown" segment with TDA.

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