I was talking to a good friend and former colleague the other day about the attacks on Auburn football that have come on a seemingly daily basis for the last five months. He made what I think is a very valid point.
Senior Editor Phillip Marshall
He pointed out that, of the “big six” in the Southeastern Conference, only Auburn is not considered the big state university. The other five, he said, had never totally accepted that Auburn belongs.
I think he has a point, and I think it goes beyond the SEC.
Lots of people seem to think that Auburn shouldn’t be in the club with Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU and the like. How many people, outside of the South or even outside of the state of Alabama, realize Auburn has dominated the rivalry for 30 years? Not many, I would guess.
Auburn, because of that perception, becomes an easier target for the new breed of “national reporters,” many of whom seem to have lost the distinction between established fact and opinion.
Perception is an undeniable factor in college football. And in those perceptions, I see three distinct groups in the upper half of big-time college football.
COUNTRY CLUBBERS: You know who they are – Alabama, Ohio State, Texas, etc. Most are state universities. A handful – like USC – are traditional schools in major cities.
LOVABLE UNDERDOGS: Boise, TCU, Stanford and the like capture the imagination of many. Plus, they are no real long-term threat to country clubbers’ PR and recruiting machines.
PARTY CRASHERS: Auburn, Texas A&M, Michigan State and Georgia Tech are some examples. They are a threat to the country clubbers, and the country clubbers don’t like it. They REALLY don’t like it when one of these schools gets to the top of the mountain.
What can Auburn or others do to change the perception? Not much, really. The only option is to do things the right way and enjoy shaking up the system the country clubbers have set up for themselves.