TUSCALOOSA -- Alabama won the 2012 Iron Bowl handily Saturday night, which surprised no one.
The way it unfolded? Absolutely a surprise.
Auburn is a team with myriad problems, they've been on display for nearly three months now, yet there's an unspoken rule that the Iron Bowl is supposed to be different. This the richest rivalry in college football. This is a pride game. Discord has no place here.
Yet that's exactly what we saw.
Auburn simply doesn't have much character. The kind of fight that turned a miserable first half in 2010 into the greatest road comeback in school history is gone. There's no belief, no fire, no real accountability on the field.
It's a seemingly never-ending cycle of sub standard.
You know that now. The season has ended and nothing changed. Nothing improved. Coach Gene Chizik said he saw improvement, fellow coaches saw the same things, and yet the same underwhelming team seen in Starkville 11 weeks ago keeps suiting up week after week.
It never ends well. In fact, it's rarely competitive.
What happened Saturday in Tusclaoosa never should be allowed to occur. It's a mess that started a long time ago, sure, yet a game like this forever has a chance deface the good things Chizik accomplished on the Plains.
The national championship will be cherished forever.
The mess left in that championship season's wake will be discussed in every national publication during the next month. People outside the Auburn Family will marvel at how quickly Chizik fell from grace. The assumption, of course, will be that Auburn is a difficult place to coach with a support system that crumbles at the first sign of trouble.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
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