Auburn’s 2016-17 athletics year has already given us three modern day folk heroes—legends in their own time who went from unknown to social media celebrity (or beyond) overnight (or quicker).
But, which one is the greatest? Whose name will you remember 10 or 20 years from now? Or, whose story will truly live on?
Let’s consider three candidates—two from one night last Fall; and one from Saturday night—and then vote on which one deserves a diamond on Auburn’s Tiger Walk of Fame.
In case you’re thinking, What makes her a hero? All she did was get hit in the face—here are two things to consider.
Firstly, she had the guts to even try to catch a college football kickoff—on her knees. It’s something usually done only by, you know, scholarship athletes—on their feet (while wearing a helmet). Furthermore, it wasn’t just any college football kickoff, but a Daniel Carlson kickoff—a Colorado Cannon-shot through the end zone.
— WarEagle Productions (@AuburnVideo) September 25, 2016
Was she courageous, or crazy? It was, of course, that beautiful combination of both; that often sends people to the ER, but . . .
Secondly, imagine if I had pointed out Ashley to you before the game, and asked, What will happen if she tries to catch a kickoff on her knees, but it hits her in the face? Your answer would’ve been something like, Well, her nose will explode. She might lose an eye. Then a couple people will help her through the tunnel to the ambulance, and we’ll probably never see her again.
Ashley’s claim to Auburn Folk Hero status lies chiefly in that she got up, and went back to work. It was like watching someone write another line for the Creed.
Herron is already an Auburn University Civic Hero. She’s official. Jay Jacobs hosted a reception in her honor, and then recognized her on Pat Dye Field.
🌳Heroic Herron Taylor recognized for protecting Toomer's oak last Saturday night. pic.twitter.com/XZie6499OY
— Jeff Shearer (@jeff_shearer) October 1, 2016
She doesn’t need us to make her case. There is, however, a distinction between an official hero, and a folk hero, or a folk legend.
Will her story—her name—persist in our collective memory? The Oak she fought to vindicate is already gone. We don’t know yet just how the interim oaks will be remembered, nor how her legend will sustain as the newest trees become the Oaks.
Free Throw ☑️
HALF-COURT GRANNY SHOT ☑️
— Auburn Tigers (@AuburnTigers) February 26, 2017
Does Ben’s shooting spectacle really put him in the conversation with our other folk heroes? Absolutely. Talk about One Shining Moment. That guy went in the zone on demand. Just insane.
And props @AuburnTigers for calling the climax what it was—a granny shot. I saw one headline that—I guess in some ill-conceived attempt at political correctness—called it an underhand shot.
That sounds like he did something akin to a softball pitch, which, actually might have been even more astounding, but it wouldn’t have been so classic. It wouldn’t have endeared him to his fellow students, to the entire Auburn Family, as a potential folk legend.
So now it’s time to have your say. They’re all uniquely Auburn. They all deserve to be remembered into perpetuity. But, if you had to choose one for the highest level of folklore, who would it be?
See you at Toomer’s Corner!