Julie and I enjoyed part of our long Labor Day weekend over in Auburn, kicking off the new season with her parents. We had a great time at the game and the team seems to be more unified this year (knock on wood).
One thing I took away from gameday was the notion that Auburn University does not want fans/alumni to tailgate (for free) anymore. That confusing realization kept running through my mind when, out of the blue, cousin Neil called to inform me that our friend Rusty got his picture in the Auburn/Opelika paper (no, not a mugshot for those of you that know Rusty). I followed Neil's directions and soon found Rusty's picture, as seen below. Rusty was caught in action at the first Tiger Walk of the year...ironically improving his position on the same guardrails he created a need for back in 2004.
Cousin Katie's former job gave her access to the photo below, from the 2004 season. In 2005, as the story goes, Auburn officials were concerned that the safety of players participating in Tiger Walk was in jeopardy at the hands of rowdy, unobstructed fans. This photo of Rusty saying "hello" to Carnell Williams was referred to as "Exhibit A". It's no coincidence that guardrails are now part of the tradition that is Tiger Walk.
A lot has changed in the last 5 years. Auburn is rebuilding and Rusty is now a husband and a father. There may be a little more salt in the pepper-colored goatee but that glimmer in Rusty's eye is still accompanied by that sly grin. You have to ask yourself: can 5 years change a man?