Iron Bowl creates civil war

Published 12:30 am Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Demopolis mayor and first lady will separate today.

Not permanently — just for the duration of the Iron Bowl and for however long afterwards it might take for both to feel comfortable speaking to each other after the last play of the fourth quarter.

The rivalry is so fierce between these two, they won’t watch the game at the same house.

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Mike will be installed in front of the televsion set at the home of his friends, Mary and Ken Tucker, who share his avid devotion to Alabama’s football team, while Susan will be in Auburn territory and surrounded by Auburn supporters at Louise Henderson’s home.

“We’ve never watched a game together,” Grayson said, tipping his Alabama mug toward his wife.

“Do you know what Auburn’s favorite wine is?” Grayson asked her, with his perfect deadpan look in place. When she rolled her eyes but didn’t answer, Grayson whined,“Why can’t we be No. 1?” His quip earned him a playful swat with her orange and blue pompon.

Mike graduated from Alabama. Susan didn’t graduate from Auburn, but both her brother and son spent a number of years there earning their veterinary degrees at different times.

At Iron Bowl time, however, they do have one thing in common. Both of them are quite outspoken in the support they lend their preferred team.

“You might say that, other than the 4-1/2 hours on one Saturday in the year when these teams play, we are unified,” Mike said. “But on Iron Bowl Saturday, we are intensly rooting for our respective schools.”

This couple is not alone in Marengo County. Jack and Patsy Cooley will stay in the same house, but at opposite ends. The feminine side of the family supports her Tigers, while the masculine side will be loudly championing Tuscaloosa’s Pachyderms. Jack Cooley said he and his wife get along famously until the day of the Iron Bowl.

In the case of Frank and Virginia Overstreet, they have mellowed over the years, but Virginia remembers a time back in 1985 when they didn’t speak for what seemed like months after Alabama won by only a couple of points in final play. But Virginia said even after decades of marriage, “I’ll probably be in one room watching and he’ll be in another.”

With Alabama holding the No. 1 ranking in the nation, Demopolis’s mayor is feeling confident.

“I am expecting Alabama to do well,” Mike said. “I’m not a hardcore fan, except that I’d like Alabama to get a 56-to-nothing win.”

Susan directed yet another swat at her husband, this one not quite as playful as the last good-natured shot with her pompon.

“I would like for Auburn to score,” she said, laughing at her husband, as he ducked an imaginary punch.

Mike and Susan agree that the Auburn-Alabama rivalry is lots of fun, though both take the game seriously.

“I’ve come to find out that we are very unique in Alabama,” Mike said. “Every state in the nation has a rivalry, but not the way we do here. Auburn and Alabama is 365 days a year.”