Monday, September 21, 2015

Fumbles, Interceptions, and Breaks

Saturday was one of the longest days of the Colonel's life.

There have been longer days.

The last few days of shipboard deployments come to mind -- sailing slowly westward across the Atlantic, crossing time zones and setting the clock back an hour every other day.  Time truly warps at sea -- the Colonel remembers looking at his watch and the time would be 0700.  Eight hours later he would glance at his wrist and the time would be 0705.

Those were longer days.

Still, Saturday seemed to stretch laconically, each minute bending time and winding the Colonel's dysenteric bowels into ropes of tension so tight he could taste the friction.

Many of you, faithful readers and wasters of rod and cone time, may have missed the fact that there was a college football game of some import played in a small college town in Alabama Saturday night.  The Colonel's Rebels played the Tide. 

And, because Bama Bandwagon Boors comprise one of the largest demographics in the South (fairweather football fans who couldn't find the city of Tuscaloosa on a map of Tuscaloosa County, yet use the term "we" incessantly when talking about Alabama football), the game was reserved by ESPN for it's prime time slot -- kick-off at 9:15 ET.

9:15 ET in the PM.

That's a few hours past the Colonel's bedtime!

Has the Colonel mentioned that Saturday was a long day?

The Colonel tried everything he could think of to make time pass quickly.  

He asked the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda if she had any small projects that needed doing.  The Colonel's Lady maintains a list of "quick" projects.  Her definition of the term "quick" and the Colonel's definition vary wildly -- one of Miss Brenda's "quick" projects can easily consume the better part of a growing season.

The Colonel's best friend rattled off half a dozen projects from memory and the Colonel set off in pursuit of rapid time passage.

Forty-five minutes later, all of the quick projects on Miss Brenda's list were completed.

Awww, Come On!

The Colonel tried taking a nap.  He fell into a deep slumber, dreaming fitfully of fumbles and interceptions.  

Ordinarily one of the Colonel's naps would make ole Mister van Winkle jealous.

Five minutes after assuming the supine position, the Colonel woke refreshed and wide awake.  

The Colonel could continue to bore you with the minute by minute   minutiae with which he attempted to abbreviate an interminable day, but he will be merciful instead.  Suffice it to say that by sundown, the Colonel was exhausted.  

The only thing keeping him awake was the gnawing reality in the acid-filled pit of his cast-iron stomach that no matter how good of a football team the Colonel's Rebels put on the field that night; no matter how well they played; no matter how masterfully the coaching staff orchestrated alignments and assignments; there was just no way Ole Miss was going to escape T-town undefeated.

It was going to take all of the above AND take more breaks than a worker on a union contract.

Ole Miss doesn't get breaks against Alabama.

Any Ole Miss fan (and, we are admittedly a small band) can recite year by year, game by game, quarter by quarter, more than a century of the breaks going in favor of Alabama.  

To be sure, most years Alabama was clearly the better team -- but this year...  This year... felt different.  Last year was miraculous, beating top-ranked Bama at home; and magical, tearing down the goal-posts and parading them through Oxford.  But, this year's team looks even better than last years.

Still, Saturday night's game was in Bryant-Denny stadium, where Ole Miss had won only once before.  Visiting teams don't get breaks in Bryant-Denny.  They get broken in Bryant-Denny.

But, as the Colonel watched in stunned unbelief punctuated with manifold losses of military bearing, the breaks fell lightly into the Rebels' outstretched hands like manna from heaven. A recovered fumble here, an interception there, and the boys in powder blue helmets had a two-touchdown lead.

In the second quarter...

In Tuscaloosa...

But, time and the Alabama Crimson Tide wait for no man -- they came storming back and the Rebels took a flimsy 17-10 halftime lead into the visitors' dungeon.

The Colonel has seen this game countless times before.  Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory is a Rebel tradition.

Someone forgot to let Freeze and the boys in on that particular Rebel tradition.

The score was 30 to 10 late in the third quarter and the Colonel was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. With good reason.  Alabama hadn't gotten any breaks all game -- they were way overdue and way underpaid.

With time slowed to an inexorable crawl late in the waning minutes of the game, the Rebels clung to a slim 43 to 37 lead.  Ole Miss had hung forty-three points on the vaunted Tide defense -- in Tuscaloosa -- and still had not been able to put the game away.  

The cold, shrunken, flinty cinder that passes for the Colonel's heart was on the verge of exploding from his chest and filling the room with shrapnel... when, wonder of wonders, the inevitable game-winning Tide comeback faltered in a fast flurry of incompletions.

The Colonel sank into the warm embrace of his over-stuffed leather chair and pinched himself -- surely, he was still dreaming.

The dream endures.

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