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redbuddha

College Football - Southern Pride - Cam Photo

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This story appears in ESPN The Magazine's Aug. 20 College Football Preview. Subscribe today!

WE BELIEVE SOME things, down here. Some of them, I have lived long enough to question. We believe that if a snapping turtle bites you, it will not turn loose until it hears thunder, but since I have seen a snapping turtle as big as a turkey roaster bite a broomstick in two, I believe it will turn loose any time it damn well wants. We believe snakes have mystical powers and will charm you if you look into their eyes. When I retire, I plan to test that theory on water moccasins at my stock pond, and if they have not charmed me in four or five seconds, I will shoot them. Then, in times of drought, I will hang them in a tree. That, we believe, will make it rain. My grandmother, God rest her soul, told me so, so it must be true.

And we believe -- well, maybe all but the Unitarians -- that God himself favors our football teams. On Friday nights and Saturday afternoons, our coaches, some of them blasphemers and backsliders and not exactly praying men the other six days of the week, tell their players to hit a knee and ask his favor at the same exact instant the other team is also asking his favor, which I have always taken to mean that God, all things being equal, favors the team with the surest holder on long field goals.

It is gospel -- the gospel according to Bear. After a rare Alabama loss in the Bryant era, Bear's sidekick on his weekly television show told him: "The Lord just wasn't with us, Coach."

"The Lord," growled Bryant, "expects you to block and tackle."

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    • Great. That's like putting this guy in charge
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