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Darrell Huckaby - 08/30/09

It is people believing that their coach can walk on water. And it is those same people firing a coach who wins 10 times a year because of the one team he can't beat.

It is brides and grooms sitting down with a calendar and a schedule so they don't mess up and plan their wedding on the same day as the "big game" - and it's the bridesmaids and groomsmen and fathers of the bride understanding that they are all big.

It's a bunch of orange-clad young men running down a hill and rubbing a rock. It's a golden eagle circling a sun-drenched stadium before landing on its handler's perch on the 50-yard line. It is "Roll Tide" and "War Eagle" and "How 'Bout them Dawgs" shouted over and over and over - all day long.

It is an end zone decorated to look like an orange and white checker board and Mike the Tiger roaring into a microphone and it is 80,000 people doing the Tomahawk Chop while the ghost of Osceola circles the field on horseback before throwing a flaming spear into the emerald green turf.

It is Saturday night in Baton Rouge and Saturday afternoon Between the Hedges and it is getting to be Thursday night in Atlanta at least a couple of times a year.

It is people who weren't even born yet remembering Billy Cannon's 89-yard punt return on Halloween night - and people who wouldn't be born for 15 years screaming "Run Lindsay! Run Lindsay! " anytime they hear anyone mention the 1980 bloodletting on the banks of the St. John's River.

It's the Tiger Walk and tailgating in The Grove and it's the Rambling Wreck leading its team onto the field. It's Uga V leaping up to try and bite an Auburn player in the crotch and it's blue-clad Duke students - and blue-clad Kentucky students--screaming "Wait 'til basketball season!" as the home team loses yet again.

It's the Million Dollar Band and the Tiger Rag and hearing "Rocky Top" 257 times in one afternoon. And it's pot-bellied middle-aged men who refuse to quit referring to the marching musicians from their school as the "Dixie Redcoats."

It is Wallace Wade and Frank Howard and General Neyland and Wally Butts and a football coach so famous that they named an animal after him; It's Vince Dooley and Bobby Dodd and Johnny Vaught and Shug Jordan. And it's Bobby Bowden and Frank Beamer and Nick Saban, and Lane Kiffin somehow making Steve Spurrier look classy.

It is fried chicken and deviled eggs and potato salad and banana pudding. It's bourbon being smuggled past security guards in hidden flasks - and it's the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party no matter how often Michael Adams insists otherwise. And lately it is generators scattered across campuses and giant flat screen TVs and 10,000 people showing up without tickets or any intention of actually going inside the stadium.

It is being able to buy an automobile tag in the state of Georgia which boasts that you are an Auburn alumnus - and it's walking along the beach at Waikiki or along a street in Paris - or Gatlinburg - and spotting people wearing crimson or orange or red-and-black or purple-and-gold and knowing exactly where that person's allegiance lies.

It is knowing on the fourth day of February and the twenty-third day of April and the twenty-ninth day of August exactly how many days are left until kick-off.

It is Charlie Trippi and Choo Choo Justice. It is Sullivan-to-Beasley and "Give the ball to Herschel" and "Archie Who?" and Lenny Snow going over the top. It is Joe Willie and Snake and Superman disguised as Tim Tebow. And it is Johnny Majors and Johnny Musso and Peyton Manning leading the band after a game.

It is "Toe meets leather!" and "Get the picture, now" and "Touchdown Auburn!"

It is beautiful coeds - beautiful coeds - and more beautiful coeds - dressed to the nines - who know just as much about a nickel defense and a power I offense as their dates - and maybe more.

It is "Punt, Bama, Punt!" and "To Hell with Tech!" and "Geaux Tigers!" It is Hog Hats and cowbells and mullets and skorts.

It is 364 days of bragging rights and "wait until next years" and it is the hope that springs eternal when the recruiting class is signed.

It is Historic Grant Field and Toomer's Corner and the Volunteer Navy showing up at the games on private yachts. It is Vandy going bowling once in a great while and never asking for any quarter because their academic standards are higher than the rest of their conference - combined.

It is a way of life. It is a year-round passion. It is almost holy.

In some places it is holy.

It is Southern college football and it is only a week away - and I can't wait.

Darrell Huckaby