When Joseph Bulovas’ toe met football leather with two minutes left in the Iron Bowl, there was slow-motion anxiety for every Alabama fan. Misses, pulls, yanks, shanks and doinks from years’ pasts came flooding through their memories like some demented, torturous highlight reel from hell.
Even more tragically for me with my terrible nearsightedness, I could not see the kick. Unless I am behind the respective goal posts, I have to depend on the noise reaction from the crowd in that particular end zone to know whether an attempt was good. Thanks to great seats from my Auburn in-laws (wait… are they then my AUn-laws?), I was perched in the upper deck splitting the 50, so obviously my middle-aged eyes had no shot at following the trajectory of that ball.
No sooner than I could ask aloud, “Did he make….”, the “…it” at the end of that question was cut off by a deafening sound. Not the roar from the jubilant Auburn faithful (although it was certainly warranted). No, somehow my ears — which cannot ever hear my wife say “pick up your shoes please” no matter how close she gets to me — heard the unmistakable reverberation of a hit goal post. A ringing so loud and so true even the Hunchback of Notre Dame had to give a nod of adoration.
Alabama fans will know that noise anywhere, the same way mother whales can distinguish their young calves’ calls from others in the pod. The sound of a hit goal post resonates through Alabama like a houndstooth tuning fork.
Please believe me; I am not here to bash Joseph Bulovas. Much better and worse kickers than him have missed field goals regularly through the Nick Saban era. Really, there was so much more potential blame to go around before anyone should even consider looking in Bulovas’ direction.
Get mad at the undisciplined play of the Tide’s players, just about all of which were upperclassmen. Be upset the dynamic Jaylen Waddle was criminally underused on a day where he clearly was the best player on the field. Fuss about missed tackles if you must or just unfurl Alabama’s long list of crippling injuries that left this squad a shell of its former self.
But it is better to take the correct approach — blame no one. Understand Auburn simply won the game as its quarterback made very few mistakes and its defense did a great job capitalizing on Alabama’s miscues. Despite the score, the game was incredible to watch unfold.
Oh, and of course, Jordan-Hare Stadium is built on a solid foundation of crashed alien spacecrafts buried underneath a mound of decomposed unicorn remains which feeds the field’s grass which was flown in from Ireland after the Great Leprechaun Massacre of 1396 which supports the stadium’s concrete structure which is made from the dried, ground, sacrificial bones of virgin Chupacabras (and we all know how hard it can be to find virgin Chupacabras. Those things party, man).
It is said we know more about deep space than we know about our own oceans. Well, you don’t have to be Aquaman to believe we know more about our oceans than we know about the enchanted aura surrounding Jordan-Hare.
Playing in Auburn for the Tide is like playing in a giant cursed monkey’s paw. There is really no other explanation for the obscure, random, unthinkable voodoo that takes place inside that venue. The only mystery left about Jordan-Hare is why the Bermuda Triangle hasn’t tried to annex it.
But, I digress.
There is a human need to explain away losses. Our egos always want an outside culprit even if there’s none to be had. It’s hard to accept failure and, especially when it comes to this rivalry, it’s even harder to admit the other team just played better. Fans always need a scapegoat.
However, there is no one person to blame for this latest missed opportunity. Not Nick Saban, not horrific injury luck, not SEC officials and certainly not young Joseph Bulovas.