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Trip Report: Auburn

auburn_logoIt’s a rarity to find a fanbase that’s welcoming. It’s a rarity to find one that’s friendly beyond belief, helpful beyond normal, and just genuinely nice folks. After a weekend in Auburn, I can safely say that if you want to experience rarity for yourself, a game weekend on The Plains is where you need to head.

From the minute we arrived in town, wearing BSU gear the day before the contest, we were welcomed with friendly greetings, friendly banter, and none of the hate filled vitriol that usually welcomes visiting fans throughout the east coast and New England. By-product of being south of the Mason-Dixon Line? Perhaps. By-product of the team we support offering no real threat or potential loss? Perhaps, as well. But something tells me even if we were the 2008 Cardinals, with a high powered offense, staunch defense, and a ManEater for head coach, we still would have been welcomed accordingly.

I had been told all week leading up to this trip that an Auburn weekend was about far more than a 60-minute football game in an impressive stadium. I had been told it was about the atmosphere fostered by an unbelievable student section. I had been told it was about the Eagle that flies throughout the stadium before kickoff. I had been told it was about one of the greatest marching bands in the country. I had been told it was about the food, the pride, the tradition, the tailgating, the southern belles, the hospitality. I had been told it was all of those things combined… and then some. And frankly, after the weekend there, in person, I can tell you that despite how unbelievable it seems, it is 1000% true.

From the fans we ran into in the Auburn bookstores throughout their version of the Village, each were complimentary of Ball State and thanked us for coming down. The fans we met at the Mellow Mushroom were just as nice, but we were too distracted by the great pizza and beer selection to notice. Even Coach Chizik, who we ran into in the Athletic Complex was friendly. It set the tone that every person we met lived up to.

The fanbase for Auburn is impressive, but that’s to be expected. What wasn’t expected, at least for me, was the large lots full of RVs and tailgaters we noticed when we pulled on to campus. At 1:00pm. On Friday. That’s dedication and something that makes Auburn the elite sort of program that they are. We didn’t get a whole lot of interaction with fans on gameday, because of the work we were doing and where we parked, but we did get invited to several tailgates on the walk to the stadium… only because we were wearing Ball State gear. Wear some Ohio State garb in Ann Arbor and see what you’re invited to.

The atmosphere at the game was top of the line, from the band, to the eagle, to the amazingly dedicated and intense student section. The game was delayed nearly a half hour after their monsoon last weekend against West Virginia but that stopped no one from coming out, supporting their Tigers, and cheering their collective butts off.

Despite the loss, despite the rain, despite the mood and tone in the BSU locker room after the game, this weekend was without question one of the best football weekends I’ve been privy to. Much of the responsibility for that goes to the Auburn faithful. Make the trip whenever you can… it will be well worth whatever it costs you.