For the first time, my family is going to be ‘a house divided’

Published 8:03 am Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Growing up in Alabama, I always had to let out a little chuckle whenever I saw a “house divided” license plate or bumper sticker. These decorations were on cars where the husband went to Auburn, and the wife went to Alabama, or vice versa. For those who may never have experienced the Alabama-Auburn rivalry by living in the state, it is truly one of the most passion-filled games in sports. I was always amazed at how these couples were able to stick together even in the face of such challenges (somehow I doubt that their vows contained either “Roll Tide!” or “War Eagle!”).

However, my family has never had to worry about such situations. My dad went to the University of Iowa, my mom and brother graduated from Jacksonville State University in Alabama, and my sister graduated from Birmingham Southern College. I graduated from the University of Notre Dame and I never had to worry about any of those teams playing the Irish in … oh, wait.

That’s right, my sister had to make the decision to attend the University of Alabama for graduate school. She received her master’s degree in May, and since then has wasted no time in rubbing in the fact that “her” Tide will crush all opponents, even her brother’s Irish.

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During the football season, when Notre Dame, Kansas State and Oregon were all undefeated and Alabama had one loss, my dad told me over the phone that my sister was openly rooting for all three of the undefeated teams to lose.

“But she only needs two out of the three to lose!” I remember saying. My dad responded that she just wanted to “make sure.”

Of course, only two out of three did lose, and now my beloved Irish are going to face her favored Crimson Tide for the national championship, and its crystal football trophy, in January. Immediately after Alabama sealed up their championship spot with a win over Georgia in the SEC championship, I sent her a simple text message:

“Bring it on!”

Her reply was an admittedly-clever one:

“I’m happy we’re playing ND. I’m getting tired of all these close games.”

I’ll be seeing my sister this Christmas, and I’m sure there will be plenty of good-natured ribbing about the fate of our two teams. My dad has already told me that the rest of the family has my back (“Alabama’s won enough, already!” he says). There may or may not be a bet of some kind exchanged; we’ll have to see.

All I know is that, win or lose, there will be a phone call exchanged by brother and sister late on the evening of Jan. 7.

I’m just hoping I’ll be able to respond to her sarcastic comments with, “I’m sorry, I can’t hear you, I have a crystal football stuck in my ear!”