Do Auburn’s Hype Videos Reveal The Secret To An Oregon Football Victory?

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10: The game day helmets of the Auburn Tigers and the Oregon Ducks are displayed at the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10: The game day helmets of the Auburn Tigers and the Oregon Ducks are displayed at the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Today, I ask the age-old question: what if the secret to an Oregon victory Auburn lies within a Facebook hype video series?

Throughout this offseason—and especially as we get closer to Oregon’s season-opening clash with Auburn—you’ll start to see many great Duck pundits write many great pieces that will preview all the key match-ups, and explain how the Ducks can topple the Tigers.

Those pieces will be well-researched, they’ll be well-constructed, and they’ll be a valuable part of the conversation as the 2019 season starts to ramp up.

This piece will be almost none of those things.

I could deliver the same old tired X’s and O’s preview of the upcoming eight-years-in-the-making rematch of the 2011 National Title Game, but I’d much rather differentiate myself by looking for the answers and expert analysis in a rather unlikely place.

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We all know that football is a game of inches. In this particular case, what if the secret to beating Auburn on August 31st is hidden within 30+ minutes of video content and buffering inches on Auburn’s Facebook page?

How many of those pundits are willing to take a deep dive into the treacherous waters of Auburn Football’s Facebook page and subject themselves to their preseason hype series, The Ride?

On the off chance that The Ride might truly hold some precious insight about the temperament of the Tigers, or even an achilles heel, I have decided to do the scouting work that every other Duck blogger is too good (read: cowardly) to do themselves.

Without further ado, here’s what I observed while watching Auburn’s Facebook hype video series, The Ride:

“Little Kat”

Auburn’s single most imposing player is Defensive End Markaviest Bryant. Bryant is an absolute athletic specimen that has the potential to cause havoc for the Ducks if our offensive line doesn’t come into the season in peak athletic form (which Cristobal would never let happen, but still). In just the first episode of The Ride, however, Bryant let one key mental weakness show: vanity.

While getting suited up with some teammates before a practice, Bryant is reminding everyone that his name is legally “Big Kat”. Widely known by fans and the media, his storied childhood nickname and Bryant is now insisting that he be referred to as “Big Kat” and only as “Big Kat” by everyone.

I’m not exactly sure why someone blessed with an incredibly own-able and badass birth name like “Markaviest” would ever want to diminish his personal brand by insisting on going by a nickname—especially a nickname that is only made kind of unique by the spelling of “Cat” as “Kat”—but I guess that’s exactly what Bryant wants, and I know just how the Ducks can exploit this particular kind of hubris.

During the clip in The Ride, His teammates are in disbelief of Bryant’s insistence that his legal name is actually “Big Kat”. He unflinchingly tells them that his mother got it changed on his birth certificate, his teammates all laugh, but Bryant does not back down.

One of his teammates then jokingly refers to him as “Mark”, and Bryant immediately clams up. If looks could kill, the expression on his glare would probably hit harder than Bryant himself. The name Mark clearly bothers Bryant, even when it comes from his teammates and friends in pure jest. This particular brand of insecurity can—and should be—exploited by only referring to him as Mark Bryant from here on out, and specifically by the Ducks during the game.

Oregon Football  does not certainly don’t need to rely on mind games, but if poking at Mark Bryant’s ego can get in his head and force him to lose a step in a play or too, then I think it’s worth a try. Personally, I think Mark Bryant is legitimately still cooler than the wholly unoriginal “Big Kat” moniker, but if it really bothers Mark that much, then the more Mark, the merrier.

Ride ‘Til They Can’t No More

Speaking of personal brands, the title of this Facebook video series is in reference to the new 2019 Auburn Football team slogan, “Ride for The Brand.” But this slogan is not some hip reference to the image of the “Auburn Brand,” and it’s not an embrace of modern language that speaks to how the team’s brand is something they all must uphold. Nope, the coaches instead describe a specific scenario that I’m sure every one of their 18-24 year-old players can relate to: cattle wrangling.

One particularly crotchety-looking assistant coach went into detail about old cowboys herding cattle across the frontier, and when things would get tough, they’d remember that they weren’t riding for just themselves. When thing got tough, those brave cowboys would apparently look at the rear-end of their cattle and remember that they were riding for the brand of the rancher that hired them.

Not only is this “inspiring story” severely lacking in inspiration, but it’s one of the most idealized versions of capitalism I have ever heard.

I may not be an expert frontiersman, but I know for a fact that if those cowboys ever looked at the ass of their cattle, all they saw were dollar signs, not a grand sense of pride in the logo of the guy that signs their checks.

However, the Auburn coaching staff did seem to luck out in this scenario. Even though the cowboy metaphor would normally relate to exactly zero millennial college football players, they chose this slogan right in the midst of Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” fame. So they really lucked out there.

All of that to say that I think Oregon is primed to exploit the disconnect between the players and coaches in terms of inspiration and core team values.

If Oregon can manage to get Auburn up against the ropes early, the Tiger’s coaching staff will urge their team to “Ride for the Brand” and use a whole slew of other cowboy metaphors, but much like the metaphorical cowboys, the players won’t here some lofty call of duty, they’ll just look at that Auburn logo and think of the guy that signs their checks.

The Hot Seat Scaries

Gus Malzahn is shown intensely working out in the team gym in the opening to one of the episodes. Malzahn also addressed his team (in front of all the cameras) and spoke about how much of his, “heart,” he’s going to give them. He talked about how he’s, “going to be more open,” with them then he ever has been before.

Knowing that Malzahn is currently coaching from the hottest seat in the country, and knowing just how much turmoil the Auburn University President’s office is right now, all of this talk of improvement and change feels like it’s coming too little too late.

The rigorous exercising and personal reflection remind me a lot of a buddy I had in college that would wake up on a Sunday morning with a gnarly hangover, and he’d immediately head to the gym at like 7 AM. He would wake up so intensely aware of his life mistakes that he couldn’t wait a moment longer without conducting some kind of self-care.

My friend would return later from the gym, still sweating out last night’s whiskey sours, and he’d go on to talk about all of the changes he’s going to make in his life. He’s going to eat better. He’s going to stop skipping class. He’s going to read a book for fun.

Now, we all know that by the following Wednesday my buddy was right back into his old routine of bar-hopping and Taco Bell, but when those Sunday Scaries inevitably rolled back around, sometimes I was even convinced that one day he might actually read that book he always talked about.

When I see Gus Malzahn, I see a man that is suffering from perpetual Sunday Scaries. He knows that the doors are closing in on his time at Auburn, and that much of his efforts are futile, but he has to try anyway. He has to convince himself that he’s going to be better.

"If a team isn’t secure at the very top, they are vulnerable. The Oregon Football coaching staff is now experienced, and it’s finally stable. Auburn will spend an entire season in coaching purgatory with Malzahn, and the season opener is a perfect time to expose just how tumultuous the Tiger’s season can really get. Since we all know that neither Gus, or my buddy, are ever going to get around to reading that damn book."

In Conclusion

Based solely on a a detailed investigation of Auburn’s Facebook hyoe video series, The Ride, the game plan to beat the Tigers is simple:

  • Oregon must challenge Auburn mentally by making sure to call Mark Bryant, Mark.
  • The Ducks will have to exploit the disconnect between millennials and cattle wrangling metaphors while Auburn attempts to, “Ride for The Brand.”
  • And Cristobal & Co. should hope that the Sunday Scaries continue to furiously pursue Gus Malzahn until he passes out from trying to go keto for a week.

Go Ducks.