“We’re having to eat some humble stew.”
That assessment came from Noah, sitting a couple bar seats away as the clock wound down on Alabama’s scoreless second half and Clemson was about to complete a stunning rout of the Crimson Tide and be crowned as the nation’s best. The final score on the big TV screen: Clemson 44, Alabama 16.
Turns out Noah wasn’t that much of an Alabama fan anyway. A Nashville native who grew up in Toronto and moved to Alabama when his parents retired there, he was mostly concerned what kind of a mood would possess his co-workers the day after. Pretty cranky, he lamented.
I had entered the Alabama sports bar, eager to see how Alabamans comport themselves during their Super Bowl. Wearing my crimson-colored mock turtleneck (so as to blend in) and going without my Savannah, Ga., tourist hat, I eased into a seat at the bar and found myself sitting between Chris, the son of the bar owner, and an Indiana couple cheering for the Tide. Why? “Because Clemson beat Notre Dame,” was the wife’s answer.
So she was mostly rooting against the Tigers. It all seemed pretty important to this lady from Terre Haute. When the Alabama quarterback threw a second interception, she said “Damn it.” Not once or twice, but many times, perhaps out of frustration, more likely so her hard-of hearing husband, a retired State Farm agent, knew how unhappy she had become and so ready to leave.
Truth be told, many of the Alabama fans left the bar in the third quarter after Clemson’s amazing freshman receiver Justyn Ross took a short pass from amazing freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence 74 yards for a touchdown and a 37-16 lead.
Not everyone could leave. Patrick The Bartender for one. A life-long Tide fan, he was also unwilling to give up hope, even at the start of the fourth quarter after his team took the ball to the Clemson one-yard line and still couldn’t score. “It’ll take a miracle,” he insisted, “but our defense has scored a lot of touchdowns.”
The Alabama defense didn’t score on this night. Didn’t play a whole lot of defense either.
The few ‘Bama fans still in the bar when the game ended had no interest in what Clemson coach Dabo Swinney had to say to the national TV audience. After admitting their team had not played its best game, they moved on to other subjects. Like next season’s prospects.