Iron Bowl already has several storylines

Published 12:23 am Sunday, November 16, 2008

Now the Iron Bowl is interesting.

From the outset, it’s pretty obvious that Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville’s seat got just a little warmer with the Tigers’ 17-13 loss to Georgia.

But will his job be on the line when his Tigers face the Tide? In this sportswriter’s opinion, probably not.

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After all, how can a win over the No. 1 team in the country make the difference between his retention and termination? Particularly when the task is a team that Auburn has beaten six straight times, a feat no other Auburn coach can lay claim to.

But to borrow a phrase Tommy T used many moons ago when Auburn courted him in 1998 — never say never.

Of course, nothing would sweeten the lemon that has been Auburn’s season like spoiling the Tide’s national title hopes. And fans on both sides know that this is a series where records absolutely do not matter.

Tiger fans fondly remember ‘punt Bama punt’ or the improbable upset that handed an undefeated Alabama team its first loss in 1989.

However, all things considered, honestly, how likely is it?

Alabama has beaten the odds every game this season. The Tide was an underdog against Clemson and throttled the Tigers. Georgia was supposed to black Alabama out, and the Tide brought the house down.

LSU fans marked last Saturday’s date on their calendars the day Nick Saban was announced as Alabama’s new head coach. And though the game wasn’t a piece of cake, it was the Tigers that were left crying their beers.

On second thought, given LSU’s scrape with Troy, that feat may not be so remarkable.

But here’s the deal. No, the Iron Bowl will not have any implications on the SEC title race or the national championship picture. Auburn is doomed to its first losing season since 1999 and the Tide locked up the west in obscenely quick fashion.

But there are still a number of noticeable storylines that will play out on that fateful night in late November.

Can Auburn spoil the Tide’s parade again? Will the Tide overlook Auburn with Florida already on the agenda? Will Tuberville walk the sidelines on the Plains in 2009?

When the Iron Bowl concludes, we will know the answers. And I can’t wait.