Football,  Frolic and Detour: Sports,  Southern Comfort

Iron Bowl: Fighting Words & Face Paint

My boys went to their first Alabama-Auburn football game Thanksgiving weekend, and they were fired up.  I don’t give two hoots about football so first I resisted these obnoxious flags and stickers, but later I relented and let the boys decorate the minivan for the drive from Birmingham to Auburn.


You can’t see the tiger tail hanging out the trunk, but you get the general orange and blue tiger motif.  Though the van may look somewhat gaudy to those of you from outside the state, in fact the adornments helped us blend in with all the other cars traveling southeast on highway 280.

My sons weren’t done showing their spirit.  Thanks to Bill’s purchase of some oily (and certainly not non-comedogenic) facepaint, they carefully applied orange and blue until they looked like goofballs true Auburn fans.


Auburn won (I forgot the score) so that was fun for the guys, but their big news was that they had seen plenty of drunk people and heard prime cuss words during the game.

During the second quarter the Auburn fans shouted a favorite (yet nonsensical) cheer:

Bodygetta Bodygetta Bodygetta Bah
Rah Rah Rah
Sis Boom Bah
Weagle Weagle
War Damn Eagle
Kick ‘Em In the Butt Big Blue!!

The boys were exulting in the coolness of being able to shout “damn” in the name of team loyalty.  Then the situation got even better.  Behind them a slurring Bama fan shouted, “What the f*ck is a weagle?  That’s a f*ckin’ stupid cheer.”

The boys turned and stared.  No one answered the fan’s question.  (My mom, an Auburn graduate, could never give me a satisfactory response either.)

The boys weren’t looking for answers, though.  They were mesmerized by the drunkard’s foul language and nearly empty Jim Beam bottle.  Eventually the fan was evicted by the police, and Porter reported every cuss, sip and instance of littering to me in detail when they got home.

They had a marvelous time, and then it was over.  For us, that is.

For die-hard Alabama and Auburn fans, the Iron Bowl is never finished.  The rivalry thrives on controversy and talking smack, and fans can always identify something that happened before, during or after the game to get riled up about.  I’ll let you Google “Fear The Thumb” to see how silly this stuff gets, if the following isn’t enough to convince you.

This year’s controversy was about jewelry.  Actually, it began with one store’s attempt to sell jewelry, and has since descended into the usual mire of name-calling and trading insults.  Here are the advertisements the jewelry store put in the paper before the game:

(click to enlarge)



While it was apparent that both ads were intended to poke fun at the schools, the Auburn fans felt that  Bromberg’s went too far in when it insulted its grandmothers and accused its women of burping.  Sensing a marketing misfire, Bromberg’s Vice President apologized, saying, “If we had known this would be so offensive, we wouldn’t have run the ad.”

He could have been accusing Auburn fans of slapping their mamas for all the good that apology did.  The ads were gasoline poured on the heated competition, and fans couldn’t wait for the resulting explosion.

Auburn fans at Tiger Tales  worked themselves into a lather:

Steve: Brombergs is a vanishing retailer in Birmingham, and they are true/blue
Alabummer Fans and alumni. Who gives a damned what they think of Auburn. They are not at that high a level of class to even comment on Auburn. They will be closing their doors soon, as people like them are dying out. Good riddance

Jane: I am offended anytime someone refers to Auburn as a Cow College. I am a college graduate (registered nurse) and my father farmed (cattle) all his life. I guess some Bammer fans are too stupid to realize where their food comes from. Fred, I am an Auburn fan and have plenty of money–€” more than enough to shop at Bromberg’s, but will spend my money elsewhere.

Lynn: After listening to Nick Saban compare the Alabama football teams’€™ losses to several national tragedies, followed by the Brombergs’€™ classless, tasteless advertisement, it has become apparent that Saban, U of Alabama and Bromberg’s Jewelers are a perfect fit. Obviously, a person does not have to have class, nor the IQ of a houseplant to coach Alabama football or work for Bromberg’s…the mental giant that came up with idea sounds like an Alabama grad to me.

Meanwhile, at the TideFans website, the Bama folks were hooting:

TiderB: Although it’s downright hilarious, I don’t know why Bromberg’s thought it would go over okay with the barn.

LeeroyI’m not surprised Barners are offended. They have been, for as long as I can remember (that’s a long time), walking around with a chip on their shoulder. I heard em’ Monday bright and early on talk radio here.  They pretty much companied (complained?) about everything Bama per usual. They just won their sixth straight Iron Bowl and all they could talk about was our touchdown(they disputed it), and that Coach Saban didn’t give em’ enough props in his presser. Very sad folks, the lot of them.

dvldog: They are offended by people wearing shoes.

Leeroy: I think indoor plumbing fires em’ up too.

NativeTider: Barners can’t afford to shop at Bromberg’s anyway so what does it matter??

Tider@GW_Law: I wonder who read the ad to them.

As someone who couldn’t tell you from one year to the next who won last year’s game, it’s astonishing to look at the number of people who live and breath college football in this state all year long.  They’ve raised the art of insult to new heights.  The fervor won’t level off once the season is finished, because here football season never ends.  It will be time to think about recruiting, and training, and then it’s time for the games again.  The message boards will be full of Alabama fans calling Auburn a hick college, and Auburn fans accusing Alabama of being low class.

If you’re thinking about attending an Iron Bowl, pick a team, and remember to bring your supplies: fighting words and face paint.


(courtesy Jack Kratoville)



  • Rachel

    Well hell’s bells.
    I don’t know that those ads were the smartest way to go, but damn people, find your sense of humor. Sheesh.
    Thanks for the great pics and fun breakdown of the game/events!

  • Kathryn

    I too had to explain to my 8 year old what a “weagle weagle war damn eagle” was. For our first Auburn game, we attended the more mild mannered Homecoming Game, but he was none-the-less quite intrigued by the whole Auburn mystique. In fact he brought home his Thankgiving List from school. Things he was most thankful for…Turkey, Ham, Auburn, vacations, nice family and God.

  • Crow_mtt

    hahahah. Your Kids, looked great!
    And I bet the game was fun.
    as for the ads, not the best advertising scheme, but people got pretty angry over something so small.

  • Laura S.

    When my family moved to Alabama in 1971, the most common question asked of my parents was “Who are you for?” instead of “Where are you from?” Since the Tide was winning then, they picked Alabama.

  • Tana

    When I moved to Nebraska, I thought I’d seen a new kind of crazy, the way they all get stirred up about football. I guess we’re not the only ones… Oh my!

  • lauren

    How funny! I thought I’d heard everything, but I had no idea Bama fans call AU fans “barners!” That’s a new one for me. I read John Archibald’s column on Sunday about the Bromberg’s brou haha, but I missed the original ads. Both sides will always have something to complain about, I guess!

  • Bhamdining

    Born and raised in Alabama and you don’t care about college football? I think you must be on the endangered species list! 🙂

    I moved to Tuscaloosa in 1990 from Missouri. One of the first questions at my new job was, “Who ya for?” My response: “Pardon me?” Them: “You know, Alabama or Auburn?” Me: “Oh, I don’t really watch football.” Them: Total disbelief! (Now I call myself an “Alabama fan by marriage” and have actually learned enough about football to enjoy watching a good game.)

  • Joy East of theKingdom

    I had to laugh when I read the “what’s a weagle?” comment. I think that a lot myself lately.

    When I was a kid, I was taught that cheer as “REGAL EAGLE, War Damn Eagle…” Perhaps, over time, it has changed. Maybe “regal” comes out “weagle” when one is inibriated.

    As the daughter of an Auburn alum, my dad shared many a great tradition with my brother and me. We thought it was cool that we could say “hell” when we sang “War Eagle” despite my mother’s protest. He said if we were going to sing it, we were going to sing it correctly, so we always did. ( And I taught it to my own children that way too.)

    (I am yet to meet an Alabama fan that knows there even ARE words to their fight song, much less can actually sing it. Alum’s included)

    I >sort of

  • Joy East of theKingdom

    understand the tounge-in-cheekyness of the Bromberg’s ad, but think they crossed the line when they concluded it with “Unless spelling is involved”

    Gotta love that Bama Economics:

    1 quarter page ad poking fun at rival college $500

    1 full page apology add $1500

    Loss of revenue from backlash…PRICELESS

  • Kathy

    *I* know the words to the Bama fight song. So do my children. And the alma mater. Ahem. 🙂

    My husband (whom I drug down here kicking and screaming from a more northern state) thought all this was nuts. Took him to his first games in 1992. Three games into the season, he’s standing on the bleachers, crimson sweatshirt on, screaming with the rest of us. Looked at me and said, “This is the greatest thing ever!”

    Just wait ’til next year…and ROLL TIDE! LOL

  • twinkie

    I prefer Troy! But grew up an Auburn Fan since my parents went there. We do live in the Florida Panhandle. There are lots of Auburn or Alabama fans but not near as many Florida or Florida State fans. I completely understand the rivalry.

  • Renee

    I moved to Birmingham at the age of 8 totally unprepared for the craziness. First day of school: the door monitors ask, “Who ya for?” Huh? Seems you had to announce your loyalty and enter the school through the designated door. They didn’t accept my tentative answer, “Georgia Tech?” my father’s alma mater, the only college I could think of. Thank God they let me enter.

    Now, I relish being the snooty football hater. It’s so novel, people usually gape at me when I admit that I dislike football. And I love aggitating them by proclaiming, “It’s only a game, people!”

  • Jen

    I was introduced to college football in 1991 as a UF freshman. I walked into the Swamp (as Florida Field is known) and started to cry. It’s an awesome thing, college football! And to think I grew up watching my brothers play hockey!

    Anyway, we took a road trip to the Auburn game one year. I’m not surprised that the student body and other fans were drunk. There’s nothing else to do there!

    When I taught elementary school in FL, the students often judged me by the fact that I was a Gator fan… until they discovered that I was proud to be a Yankee… that just about made them pass out. Apparently, no matter your football allegiance, it’s more offensive to be from the North.

  • Tina

    I worked in Huntsville for a year. I was told constantly – by both sides – that one was not allowed to abstain from the madness. Whether I liked football or not whether I watched it or not – I must choose Auburn or Alabama. I replied – ice hockey. Obviously this yankee girl had gone too far south.

  • K

    Preach on, sistah! I am a MISSISSIPPI STATE fan and alum, and am looked on with great disdain by both Bama and Auburn coworkers. Its insulting the way they act like something’s wrong with me for living in this state and not pulling for either team. And our arch rival, Ole Miss, has the world’s STUPIDEST ditty: “Hotty Toddy, godalmighty, who the hell are we? Flim, flam, bim bam, Ole Miss, by damn!” I would change loyalties just to keep from having to chant that. I mean, flim, flam, bim, bam? We wonder who the hell they are too.

  • Russ

    College rivalries are fun. One of my Dad’s friends played football for UVA during the late 60’s, and when he found out that I was attending Clemson he stopped talking to my father. This is in NJ, in the early 90’s, not Virginia or SC mind you. Oh the fun. I look forward to the CU-AU game, it should be a good one. I don’t know when CU and UVA play again, but that will be fun too! Good luck on 12/31!

    PS we get the all of the barn school/red neck garbage too from our “up scale” neighbors in USC.

  • Karin

    I asked my husband who has family in South Alabama. He said weagle is probably a bad pronunciation of war eagle and it probably sounds more like wagle…I like ice hockey.

  • Cathy

    Oh, that’s hilarious! Mucho praise for the copywriter! Yes, I’m a UA alumna and I do know the words to “Yea Alabama.” AND I put a kid through school at both Alabama and Auburn (the good child, and the bad child LOL!). Some people take the rivalry too far, but it’s SUCH GREAT FUN! When we lived in Atlanta, it was nice to meet another UA grad, but we really had fun trading insults and jokes with the All-Barn folks. You hockey lovers…remember, the University of Alabama in Huntsville fields a top collegiate ice hockey team! Go Chargers…