All i Want For My Birthday is an #IronBowl Win

Auburn Wins the 2013 IronBowl
Auburn Wins the 2013 IronBowl

All i want for my birthday
is an #IronBowl win.
A reminder of a day
that we can re-live again.

All i want for my birthday
is an #IronBowl win.
A play, oh what an hour
that once Gary gave spin.

All i want for my birthday
is an #IronBowl win.
A “there goes Davis…”
that one-second grin.

All i want for my birthday
is an #IronBowl win.
A call… Rod, take us,
that possible to do again?

All i want for my birthday
is an #IronBowl win.
Oh my Lord in Heaven
This’s but a game? Since when.

All i want for my birthday
is an #IronBowl win.
A deafening roar, the muff
that Tiger come alive within.

All i want for my birthday
is an #IronBowl win.
A chance to make history
that Spirit soars never dim.

All i want for my birthday
is an #IronBowl win.
A future moment to revisit
that glorious day back when…

All i want for my birthday
is an #IronBowl win.
A mere man ran back pigskin
that all who has ears to hear…

Auburn wins!


The photo was taken from our regular season-ticket seats we’ve sat in for 20 years, just after Davis ran back the 109 yards to score the game winning touchdown to send Auburn to the 2013 National Championship game. It was quite possibly the greatest game ever played in college football history.

iOS Panorama Beauty of Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium

Auburn Jordan-Hare Stadium Panorama
Auburn Jordan-Hare Stadium Panorama

There is nothing quite like a stadium full of 87,451 fans creating a sea of orange and blue. It actually doesn’t happen all that often, and it’s even harder to capture all 87,000 people in one single photo. My expectations for the rest of the season are very low at this point, but that’s ok, Auburn is still Auburn, and while there are many reasons why I love this town, football is one. Ever since the iPhone 5 came out this shot above is the very shot I had in my mind for the new panorama feature, and I finally got to take it during the Auburn vs Arkansas game. The result is something that can only be seen with a very wide angle lens, or in a stitched panorama shot of the stadium, from the south end zone. I loaded a full size high-res version here if you want to take a look at the shot at full size.

It does take a little practice to get a decent panorama shot using the new iOS 6 camera feature, but with some practice you can really get some great shots that you can’t get without a lot of work and specialized skills otherwise. My first real professional attempt was done at this scenic vista in Colorado called Lake City back in 2008. That setup required an elaborate (but well worth it) set of tripods, panorama ball heads by Markins (an outstanding ball head), levels, and some good knowledge of Photoshop to be able to stitch together the final panorama product. Today, a mere 4 years later, it’s a much different landscape with the iOS 6 option where the software allows you to take the shot above, automatically stitching together a series of shots taken simultaneously.

If you have your own iOS 6 panorama example leave it in the comments below. I’m going to offer a how-to on the iOS option down the road, but for now, stadiums make a great subject.

Gameday Pics of Auburn vs LSU on a Bye Week

Jordan-Hare Stadium as the Sun Sets at Auburn vs LSU
Jordan-Hare Stadium as the Sun Sets at Auburn vs LSU

I love photos of Auburn’s gameday. Since Auburn is off this week with a bye, and they really couldn’t have a better Saturday than today, I thought I would just post a few pics from last week’s game against LSU. This game I decided to not fight the gate entrance camera police by trying to take my camera into the stadium (Jordan-Hare Stadium no longer allows Digital SLR’s taken in by the fans sitting in the seats, technically it’s “cameras with detachable lenses or cameras with lenses longer than 4 inches“, a policy vary randomly enforced, unlike the food policy). Instead I opted for my new iPhone 5. These are my very first images taken with the iPhone 5, and so far it has done quite well. From a camera perspective it didn’t make big leaps but there are a few nice updates, including the panorama feature I will post about some other day.

I have posted images using this camera phone since the very first one came out years ago, but each time the technology gets better, and the images allow for even greater creativity for the photographer. For a camera phone, these lighting conditions were near impossible to capture a few years ago (at least capture well), now, even low light shots are starting to be possible with just your phone. The first shot, the one at the top was taken from my seat in the end-zone, and the last shot was taken from a parking deck as the game ended. That shot has been one of my favorites over the years ever since I took this shot of the night we lost to LSU back in 2008 when Auburn lost 21 to 26 in a heartbreaker. Still, LSU never disappoints as far as quality football goes, and I got some of my favorite ESPN Gameday photos during a game at the LSU game that year.

So this week while we get to watch everyone else fret about their team losing here are a few gameday photos from Auburn last week via my iPhone. War Eagle!

Gameday Auburn vs ULM or Everyday Life in the South

Auburn University Marching Band Football vs ULM 2012
The Drum Major Leads the Auburn University Marching Band for the ULM Game

It came a little later this year than in the past few seasons, but Saturday was finally gameday in Auburn. As part of the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge they asked people to post about “everyday life” where you live. This may not be everyday life in other parts of the country, or the world, but it is down here in the south. There are those times during the year when people are waiting for SEC football, and then there is the fall when all plans are thrown out the window and people are at the mercy of the SEC schedule and the networks timetable.

This year it just feels a little different. ULM best Arkansas the week before, and Auburn had lost their previous two “away” games, so sitting out in the blasting heat and sun to watch Auburn barely come away with an overtime win against ULM wasn’t the greatest afternoon ever, but it was Auburn football. Auburn’s eagle still flew, and the band still played, but people were dropping left and right because of the heat, prompting my question as to why in the world do they agree to play a football game in the south during the day anymore? I know the answer is the dollar, but still, people were literally being carried out on stretchers. But that’s football devotion in the south, and part of every day life down here.

This coming Saturday could be a very hard game to overcome with LSU already smelling blood in the water. The shots here were taken with my Nikon, sneaked into the stadium since Auburn will no longer allow DSLR’s inside the gates anymore. I probably will not every hassle with it from this point forward this season and just use my iPhone instead, which just gives me another chance to improve as an iPhotographer. I always love the intensity of the Auburn Marching Band, and they are always so accessible during the game, though I’m not sure how they don’t pass out in those wool uniforms in 100*F weather.

One of my favorite shots of the day is one reason why I love football in the Bible belt. The circle of Auburn football players praying before the game puts some perspective on the fact that this is just a football game. But even more, we still live in a part of the country where football players can pray with their coaches, and the team has it’s own Team Chaplain in Rev. Chette Williams. Something rare in this pluralistic world we live in today. War Eagle.

Samford Hall Before Auburn vs Clemson in My 41st Season

Samford Hall Auburn University
Samford Hall on Auburn University

I’m not sure there are any new and unique ways to shoot Samford Hall on Auburn University, but I keep looking for them just the same. This was a new shot for me, sitting in my car stopped on College (very briefly), I took this shot out the window of my car. It’s such an iconic shot to me, and it has been photographed for so many decades that you almost get nostalgic walking across the lawn thinking about how many have stood here before. As Deborah and I walked across the lawn for lunch yesterday, I realized I love it now not because it represents football, or tradition, but because represents where I’m from, it’s where I live and work. In a southern college town in Alabama.

Tomorrow of course starts the insanity that is NCAA College Football, and somehow, I will be there in Atlanta when Auburn kicks off against #14 ranked Clemson. It starts off my 41st season as an Auburn football fan (see my 40th and photo outtakes), and each one has been unique, and memorable to some extent. This year, my favorite off-season football day had to be the unveiling of Auburn’s Heisman Trophy Winner Statues for Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson, and Cam Newton, or Chizik and Trooper talking to the players along with the other shots of the players coming out of the tunnel for Aday 2012. I didn’t take my camera into too many games last year so I wouldn’t be hassled by the camera mafia as I walked into Jordan-Hare, but I did still get some shots representative of each home game last year, and that’s probably going to be plan this year. As Auburn makes it harder and harder to bring in cameras I’m left with take iPhone cell phone camera shots, but that’s ok, I tend to enjoy the games better anyway, plus I’ve found the iPhone to be one of the best point-n-shoot cameras around.

War Eagle everyone. I’m looking forward to a fun and exciting football season as always, see you on Twitter tomorrow from Atlanta (@scottfillmer), I’ll be sure to send out a few Instagram shots from inside the Georgia Dome.

Auburn's Chizik and Trooper Talk to the Players Before Aday 2012
Auburn’s Chizik and Trooper Talk to the Players Before Aday 2012

The Catholic Church, the NCAA, and Penn State Football

Emmert Podiumh NCAA Penn State

I tend to stay away from topics I’m not involved with or have studied to some degree, but I am a follower of the greater Church Body, and an avid football fan (albeit Auburn Tigers Football not Penn State). I also try to steer away from current events as well, but in this case, it just deserves attention. While the Catholic Church has been having to deal with similar sexual sins for a while now, it is a self-governing body, while the top level of college football is governed by the NCAA, and this is basically their first large dealing with sexual sins and child abuse.

Today, the NCAA handed out the penalty it felt was justified for these horrific sexual sins against children, and it was a heck of a penalty. You can read the full pdf of the NCAA decision here, but the list of sanctions the NCAA placed on Penn State went well beyond the death penalty in my opinion, and rightfully so. The president of the NCAA made it clear that, at least Penn State, had put football, and winning football games, above all else, even the welfare of its own children. Living in a part of the country where football rises above everything, and is somewhat the religion of Saturday night, this penalty should raise awareness across the entire college football continuum. We love our football, but to what expense? Well, at least for the governing body of college football, the NCAA has made it clear, if you take football above the welfare of everything else, this is the list of what you get.

Punitive Component of the NCAA Penn State Penalty

  1. $60 Million Fine – this is the equivalent to the approximate average of one year’s gross revenue from the Penn State football program, to be paid over a five-year period to an endowment for programs preventing child sexual abuse and/or assisting the victims of child sexual abuse
  2. Four-Year Postseason Ban – they can’t play in a bowl game from 2012-2013 season until the end of the 2015 season. Some might think this isn’t that big of a deal, but this is where athletic programs get extra money, recruiting, and will basically disband any future NFL stars.
  3. Four-Year Reduction of Grants-in-Aid – the NCAA is limiting the Grants-in-Aid monies to 15 grants where in 2017-2018 they can go to 65
  4. Five Years of Probation – they are independently monitored for five years and any violation can mean higher penalties
  5. Vacation of Wins since 1998 – this is huge! This means Coach Joe Paterno will have these wins removed from his record as well
  6. Waiver of transfer rules and grant-in-aid Retention – this will allow any returning or new football player to be able to leave Penn State without any restrictions. This will basically have the affect of mass exodus with any football players of super high talent levels
  7. Individual penalties to be determined – open door for future action against specific people involved

Corrective Component of the NCAA Penn State Penalty

  • Adoption of all recommendations presented in Chapter 10 of the Freeh Report (full PDF of Freeh report here)
  • Implementation of Athletics Integrity Agreement (which is a huge list of things)

That’s quite a list, and in my view, which is just one of a mere spectator and lover of all things college football, this is worse than the death penalty that SMU received many years ago. I’m actually not sure the NCAA could put down a penalty or sanctions that would be too severe. Penn State removed the statue of their famed coach, and will probably begin to do what all quality higher education institutions in this country should be doing, focusing on winning through education, not football.

What does this have to do with the Catholic Church? Well, it is always interesting to me to see what secular institutions do when you compare that to what the church does. Although it is very hard to compare the Catholic Church and the sexual abuse of children by priests spanning centuries with college football, these were similar sins of the flesh, and above is how the secular world of NCAA College Football handled their sexual sin problem. How does, or how did the church handle their problem? In an overview, they instituted #7 above, and then whatever the court of law said they had to do.

Paul alone has a lot to say about the sexual sins of the flesh. They are not to be tolerated, and in his day, they were indeed worthy of the death penalty, but not the one where you can’t play football anymore, the capital punishment kind (see at a minimum Colossians 3:5). How can the church of today be less forceful against sin than a secular institution? There is of course a greater element of forgiveness and repentance involved, but in this particular case today, I think the church body can learn something from the punishment of the NCAA. This will really hurt Penn State right now, but in the end their football program will be one of integrity and honor.

I say the Catholic Church in this post only because they are the most prominent, the highest profile, and some of the worse abuse from within the greater Church Body. Things like this go on in Christian Church just like it goes on in college football, but that doesn’t mean we don’t meet these challenges as a Church Body with integrity and honor, and justice. After all, our governing body may be the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, or the United Methodist Church, but ultimately we are accountable to God, a much higher authority than even the NCAA, unless perhaps you ask someone from the state of Alabama on a Saturday night that is.

Auburn's Heisman Trophy Winner Statues for Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson, and Cam Newton

Auburn Bo Jackson Heisman Trophy Winner Statue

Auburn Cam Newton Heisman Trophy Winner Statue

Auburn Pat Sullivan Heisman Trophy Winner Statue

Before the annual Auburn A-Day Game this year (see Auburn Tigers Football A-Day Game Photos For 2012 from last weekend), Auburn unveiled the new Heisman Trophy statues, one by one, Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson and Cam Newton, who accepted their honors with a short speech at the ceremony (you can watch all three videos here from AL.com). We did not come early for the unavailing of the statues, but since we live in Auburn, we can come down and see them any time we like I guess. These shots are of the three statues that now reside at the from entrance (east side) of Jordan-Hare Stadium, taken last week before the A-Day game.

I’m sure I will take some more additional shots of the statues later when there aren’t any crowds clamoring to get at them. The detail is pretty exquisite even if you aren’t an Auburn fan, they are detailed all the way to the cleats each wore, with a nice “AU” on the back of Sullivan’s shoe. The thing that really amazed me about these three athletes, and their corresponding Heisman Trophies, is their span of time. Each of the three represent a unique generation. I took my nephew to the A-Day game who is the biggest Cam Newton fan ever, but of course he doesn’t remember watching Bo Jackson run down the field, and neither do I remember watching Pat Sullivan throw a pass, and my dad, who was also at the A-Day game, can remember just about every game and play Pat Sullivan was in. It’s a little creepy, and a little cool, The three generations go my dad, me, and my nephew, each who grew up watching their own generations Heisman Trophy winner from Auburn. War Eagle!

Auburn Tigers Football A-Day Game Photos For 2012

Auburn Tigers Aday Game 2012

Today was the annual crazy-day game where we play ourselves, called the Auburn A-Day Game. Of course just about every school has a spring game where the offense plays the defense, it just seems to get bigger and bigger as the years go by. Today we had over 43,427 people at this game where we played ourselves, a game in which Coach Chizik said “numerical values meant little — if not nothing.” Makes me wonder (every single year)… why… but, it’s Auburn football, and there are very few chances to get into Jordan-Hare Stadium and take photos of crazy people (myself included since obviously I was at this “game”). I feel sort of obligated to go now since I have 4 years of A-Day Game posts on my blog, and I wouldn’t want to cull a blog mini-series of mine like the A-Day Game.

As Ryan Wood wrote for the Opelika-Auburn News on the game, “I wouldn’t look and pay attention to any of the stats today,” said Chizik, who barely glanced at the sheet in front of him for the 10 minutes he spent with the media. “It was different guys in there with different personnel groupings, and mix and match players. I wouldn’t read into any stats that you may see, good or bad.” But, that just means that keep stats for this game? Seriously? OK, I guess we keep stats on everything these days, and why not, the number of data points that we can capture at any given event now is bordering on the incomprehensible.

One interesting thing that did take place yesterday was the unavailing of three statues of Auburn’s Heisman Trophy winners, Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson, and Cam Newton. I have photos of the new statues, but I think I am going to post them in a separate blog post, after all, they did win the Heisman, they probably deserve their own post. I do find it kind of interesting that after something like 100 years of football we have now joined Alabama in memorializing our gladiators in the form of gigantic bronze statues that would make the Greek gods proud. I guess I can no longer make fun of Bama’s statue of Bear Bryant or Nick Saban and the like, oh well.

Auburn Tigers Aday Game 2012

Auburn Tigers Aday Game 2012

Auburn Tigers Aday Game 2012

Auburn Tigers Aday Game 2012 Marching Band Drums

Auburn Tigers Aday Game 2012 Marching Band Trumpets

Auburn Tigers Aday Game 2012

Transcript Bob Costas Essay: Genuine Beliefs Help Make Tebow Who He Is

I don’t usually comment on my blog about a football game, but the Tim Tebow craze has been running so wild that I thought I would at least post the transcript of the Bob Costas monologue he gave last night during the Sunday Night Football in America game (the Cowboys and Giants). It is fascinating to watch the sports commentators opine on the unexplainable qualities in Tebow. Those of us who are believers know exactly what the unexplainable qualities are derived from, but the sports world goes on in unbound fascination to who they deem a mediocre quarterback who brings players to perform at a level better than who they actually are. Tebow himself even goes as far to say (and rightly so) that God is not pulling for one particular team, it’s just football.

There are so many theological arguments one could pull out of the above, and almost countless ones in the transcript below, but I will just let the transcript speak for itself. One thing is for sure, Tebow has a huge platform, and he is showing the world what it looks like to follow Christ as best as a sinful man can do. But, he is still just a man. We are not to put our faith or trust in his abilities, but see Christ who is shinning through him.

Transcript of Bob Costas Essay on Tebow

Back at halftime. The Denver Broncos now lead the AFC West at eight and five, seven and one with Tim Tebow as their starting quarterback. Here is the list of quarterbacks with higher winning percentages this year than Tebow. Aaron Rogers, and nobody else. And truth is, there’s nobody else quite like Tebow. No fewer than five of the seven victories have featured late fourth-quarter comebacks, approaching, okay we’ll say it, the miraculous.

Again today, Tebow did next to nothing until the waning moments, and then, down ten nothing with two minutes left, he throws a touchdown pass, and the Broncos then tie it at the gun on a 59 yard field goal, and win again in overtime on a 51 yarder. The combination of Denver’s continuing late heroics and today, the Bear’s otherwise unexplainable errors is enough to have some at least suspect divine intervention, except that Tebow who’s sincere faith cannot be questioned and should be respected, also has the good sense and good grace to make it clear he does not believe God takes a hand in the outcome of games. Most of us are good with that, otherwise how to explain what happens when there’re equal numbers of Believers on either side, or why so many of those same believers came up empty facing Sandy Koufax, or hit deck against Mohamed Ali, or why the Almighty wouldn’t have better things to do.

Still there’s no doubt that Tim Tebow and his team benefit from his honest belief. How? Frank Bruni put it well in today’s New York Times. Whatever Tebow may lack in classic NFL quarterbacking traits he possesses other qualities in abundance, and in his case those qualities; confidence, equanimity, optimism, and a presence that can’t be explained, but can certainly be felt, the whole Tebow persona derives from how he sees the world and his place in it. Those qualities, no matter how one comes by them, are an asset. Perhaps especially in specially in sports. Good for Tebow, and those who share his beliefs, and those who don’t can still acknowledge and appreciate that who Tim Tebow is is not only genuine, but for the moment at least, it makes him and the Broncos the most fascinating, and whatever sent you interpreted it, uplifting stories and sports.

~Bob Costas, Sunday Night Football in America Halftime Monologue

If you would rather watch the essay as it was presented to the world, you can see that here on video. Note on the transcript. One was not made available by NBC so the transcript below is one that I personally put together. Update, I was finally able to find a transcript put out by NBC and you can see the transcript here.

http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/33399756

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Auburn Tigers Football vs Alabama Crimson Tide 2011 :: Photos

Well it was not that great of a game today but it was still great to be at the game at least. Another regular season has come and gone, can’t believe it. I decided today I would leave the camera at home and just go enjoy the game, but of course I didn’t leave home without my phone. I have always loved trying to do some actual photography with my cell phone over the years. It creates more of a challenge but also forces you to get creative.

All the shots in this post came from my iPhone, my favorite being the shot above when the sun was just about to go behind the west stands of the stadium. The clouds made it perfect, especially with the lights on and “Champions 2010” reflecting off the windows. It was another unforgettable season (not for the same reasons as last year), now it’s time to wait and see where Auburn ends up going for a bowl game.