Like Tre Mason, I feel like I owe an apology to the entire Auburn family. Unfortunately, unlike the Tigers' great running back, mine is actually necessary. I’m the reason Auburn lost the National Championship.
Well ... sort of.
In truth, I’m taking one for the team because some might say it’s uncouth to throw a 5-year-old under the proverbial bus for being a light weight.
I thought I did everything right, performing all my superstitious rituals perfectly. I didn’t shave before the game. I sat in the same place. I wore my (unwashed since the LSU loss) blue T-shirt with the creepy orange clown face — the same shirt I wore to my first ever Auburn game in 2004, when I was the features writer for Opelika-Auburn News. At the time, I didn’t have any Auburn swag, so I wore the closest thing I had to Auburn colors. All we did that year was go undefeated before getting robbed for a chance to play in the National Championship.
I also drank from a different six-pack of craft beer (one beer per quarter) using the same Auburn pilsner glass (I buy a new one each season) while eating Cheez-Its straight from the box. So with that much mojo on my side, how, you might wonder, did I allow freakin’ Jameis Winston to throw that touchdown with 13 seconds left and shatter Auburn’s dream season?
I let my good luck charm fall asleep.
Jellybean is a new addition to my obsessive list of game-time habits. As with most good luck charms, it was sheer coincidence that she was anointed by the football gods to bring victory to my team. See, Jellybean doesn’t really care about football. In fact, she’s rather antagonistic towards her father’s fanaticism and relishes the pained faces I make when she chants things like “R-O-O-O-O-O-O-L-L EAGLE!” or insists on buying a Georgia cheerleading costume because she “likes dogs better than tigers,” or changing the channel to an episode of “Full House” when I ducked into the bathroom during a commercial, then hiding the remote in the guinea pig cage.
That little prank landed her in time out.
But Jellybean has been present for perhaps the two greatest plays in Auburn football history. She was sitting on the couch at My Dear Sweet Mother’s house when the Prayer at Jordan Hare was answered and she was sitting on my couch during the Kick Six return that won the Iron Bowl.
But the football gods can be a fickle lot (just ask Nick Saban, who’ll hear “Hey Nick, got a second?” jokes for the rest of his illustrious career) and there was one caveat I apparently missed during those earlier miracle finishes — Jellybean was awake.
For the first half of the game, I struggled mightily. While watching in nervous-excited agony, dying with every offensive and defensive play, my attention was constantly being pulled away to put a high-heeled shoe on Barbie, dig a Crayon out from under the couch or pass out “homework” to students that consisted of a one-eyed koala bear and a nekked baby doll.
So come half time, Jellybean had to go to sleep. The game was amazing. It was one for the ages. And we would have won … had my good luck charm been awake. So to you Auburn family, I apologize.
But by the power of Brent Musburger, next year … Jellybean won’t so much as yawn until Auburn wins that crystal football.
Contact Brett Buckner at firstname.lastname@example.org.