One of the first questions I got in the interview process when I applied for the sports reporter position at the News Courier was who I’d rather root for, the Alabama Crimson Tide or the Auburn Tigers? One of the first questions I received when I first got here when I was on the radio was who I was a fan of, Alabama or Auburn? The journalist in me says to remain neutral. I mean, it’s not like I’m going to purchase a bunch of apparel and wear it to work or work-related events, but I have to choose one or the other, right?

When I’m asked that question, I assume I’m being asked about college football. I’m fairly sure that college football fandom in this state brings with it all of the other sports that the person follows. Regardless of which team I choose to root for, I would obviously be classified as a “bandwagon” fan, which is completely fair game. I’m a Midwesterner who moved down south. But as an Alabamian now, I can say I love my job, I love my coworkers, I love the community and I love the state of Alabama.

Growing up ”in the north” and watching my favorite college football team (Michigan Wolverines) suffer loss after loss and seeing Alabama win National Championship after National Championship, I got jealous of the Crimson Tide success on the football field. As someone who wants to see more parity in college football and an expanded playoff, I wasn’t exactly a fan of their domination. But I appreciate Nick Saban’s success. I think it’s incredible that he has sustained it for this long. He’s the greatest college football coach to ever live and I don’t think it’s all that close.

But what I do love about the Alabama Crimson Tide is that they defeated Ohio State in the 2021 College Football Playoff last year. So, despite my reservations and exhaustion from seeing Alabama win what seems like every year, I give one point to Alabama.

Auburn last won the national championship back in 2010. The success of the Tigers on the football field hasn’t lived up to what’s going on in Tuscaloosa. Then again, I’m not sure any other team will ever live up to that. They brought in former Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin to take over the head coaching job this offseason. Boise State put out good seasons consistently under Harsin and I expect that consistency will translate to Jordan Hare Stadium. How soon that happens remains to be seen.

When my mom roots for teams, she often will jump on the bandwagon of the team with the color scheme she approves of most. That navy and orange color scheme for Auburn is great. Alabama’s color is just Crimson, but they’re absolute classics. The numbers on the sides of the helmets are so simple, yet they’re a thing of beauty.

However, I do think that if the games were determined by helmet design, Michigan would win every week in my obviously biased opinion. Also, an eagle and an elephant for mascots are both awesome (although I still have trouble tying an elephant to the tide even though I’ve read the origin story).

Most people without a natural rooting interest in a game will pull for the underdog. I’m like most people in that regard, so one point to Auburn.

I wrote all of this hoping to come up with a decision on who I would rather root for or who would be my adopted team here in the state. I don’t have an answer. Now you may think this was a pointless exercise since I didn't come to any conclusion. It was not.

What this does is get me excited for the upcoming college football season, and as a journalist and die-hard fan of college football, fall Saturdays can't get here soon enough. I'm sure I'll know by the date of the Alabama-Auburn game on November 27 which team I'd like to see win that specific game, but I'm not sure I'll want to announce it.

— Devlin can be reached at travis@athensnews-courier.com.

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