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Friday, January 30, 2009

As good a day as any

What a Year

I may have - no, absolutely I have - picked the weirdest season possible in which to begin writing about Auburn football. From the Tony Franklin hire to 3-2 to ChrisToddGate to Spread Man Walking to Zombie Nallsminger to Tubby Fired and Chizik Hired to Gustav to the inexplicable firing of Clinton Durst... I can't remember any season in which college football as a whole left me so bewildered. With signing day approaching fast, it's safe to say that things absolutely must cool down soon. There just isn't any drama left in the tank.

Count this as the first February in a long, long time that comes welcome. We're about to enter the desolation of an offseason desert, and I for one am breathing a sigh of relief - I've got sensory overload from all the frogs, rivers of blood, boils, hail, locusts, pillars of cloud and fire, and armies drowned in collapsing seas. Here's to boredom. I'm sure I'll change my tune in another few weeks.

"The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again."

What's so special about Benton, Illinois? For one, it was named for Senator Thomas Hart Benton:

You don't mess with Thomas Hart Benton

Benton was an accomplished dueler. As an attorney in Missouri, one of his rivals Charles Lucas challenged him to a duel on Bloody Island. The cause? Each had accused the other of lying. They squared off and fired. Benton was grazed in the knee but shot his opponent through the throat at thirty paces. He absolved his opponent from finishing the duel. However, murmers were heard that, being a crack shot, Benton rigged the duel to his own talents. So, he challenged the defeated Lucas to a rematch and shot him through the heart from a mere nine feet.

This is the kind of man we need. A man who took a principled stand against slavery when his party and the state he adopted were increasingly pro-slavery. A man who would go nose-to-nose with Andrew Jackson and not blink. A man who fought for the farmer and the frontiersman as long as they would work the rich American soil. A man who will shoot you dead from nine feet or ninety feet if you call him a liar. Thomas Hart Benton would be the exact counter to Saban's coachbotting: no less deadly an opponent, no less steely-nerved, but noble in his devotion to the individual and to the worth of work - hard work.

What else makes Benton unique? Well, here's Benton, Illinois:

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And here's Benton with the superimposed route from Ames to Auburn (or Auburn to Ames):

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That's right - almost exactly halfway as the U-Haul rolls. Hopefully, as the coaching wheel swung these two coaches between Iowa and Alabama, they could feel some influence from that man whose name lies at the hub. They're gonna need it.

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