Opposite sides of the stadium: Family football rivalries

Husbands and wives can find themselves on opposite sides of the collegiate football divide.

Story highlights

  • Collegiate bowl season can divide couples because of their school loyalties
  • One couple will sit on opposite sides of the stadium for the Chick-fil-A Bowl
  • Football conference rivalries also cause family members to clash
On New Year's Eve, husband and wife Tripp and Jessica Johnson will be wearing orange and blue and cheering their team in the Chick-fil-A Bowl -- from opposite sides of the stadium.
The games features the Auburn University Tigers facing off against the University of Virginia Cavaliers, and both schools happen to share an orange and blue color scheme. Jessica went to Auburn, and Tripp is a UVA alum.
The two first met in neutral territory, New York, when they both found themselves at a place known as the "Auburn Bar" to watch a game. Jessica went by choice, but Tripp was tagging along with a friend.
Usually, this difference doesn't turn Jessica and Tripp from couple to rivals. The two football teams have played one another only two previous times -- in 1997 and 1998. But for two passionate football fans that are true to their schools, the bowl is turning theirs into a house divided.
With bowl season in full swing, there will definitely be friends and families divided by the Rose, Orange, Sugar and Fiesta bowls and ultimately the BCS National Championship Game. No rivalry is worth starting a long-standing feud in the family, but it's fun to get into the spirit of collegiate loyalties.
Because of the holidays and his dad's 60th birthday, Tripp's family is coming to town for the game. All of Tripp's siblings also went to UVA, so they bought tickets for the whole family. Jessica responded in kind by buying tickets so she can sit with her family on the Auburn side of the stadium.
"Neither of us are very good losers," she said. "And that can make people pretty miserable."
No need for tensions and loyalties to clash on the father-in-law's birthday.
If Virginia wins, her husband will bring it up "forever." "If Auburn wins, I'll be a little mean that night, but Auburn really should beat them," she said. "If they don't, I'll be embarrassed."
Betsy Glenday and her husband, Nigel, have also had some "jabbing back and forth." As it happens, Betsy and Jessica are friends, and both of them happened to marry men who went to the University of Virginia.
But the biggest difference is Betsy's husband loves Auburn, and the two always watch Auburn games together. They may not be able to watch the bowl game, however, because the couple will be vacationing in Paris.
When they found out the two schools would play one another in the bowl, they had already booked their trip.
Betsy said there was no way they would change their tickets for a bowl game. But if they did, the couple would wear orange and blue, sit together, and her husband would probably bring a "back-up Auburn hat," just in case.
While Betsy doesn't have to worry about a football rivalry in her marriage, she is familiar with a house divided by an even deeper challenge: Auburn and the University of Alabama. Betsy's family enjoys the excitement of a good, long-standing rivalry, but never lets it go too far.
Growing up in Alabama, her family watched all of the 'Bama games. But when Betsy was accepted to Auburn, things began to change. Her brothers followed suit, and soon Betsy, her father and her siblings were on the orange and blue side of the divide, while her mother and grandfather swore by the Crimson Tide.
In the Southeastern Conference, rivalries divide houses and run deep in family blood. Auburn and Alabama play each other every year in the Iron Bowl -- the week of Thanksgiving.
So each year, Betsy's mother goes the Alabama alumni bar to watch the game, while Betsy, her brothers and father go to the Auburn alumni bar. During halftime, whoever is losing has to visit the other bar and "eat it" for a little while.
"It may be Thanksgiving, but I'm going to talk back to my mom!" Betsy said, laughing.
Family will still be family, tensions will ease after the Iron Bowl, and the jokes and jabbing will be swapped in good fun.
Because Virginia and Auburn have conflicting game times during the regular season, Jessica and Tripp managed to find a bar near their home in San Francisco that would broadcast both. As Jessica watched Auburn lose to the University of Georgia this year, Tripp was enjoying a game of UVA vs. Duke University.
He invited her to come watch his game because Virginia was faring well.
Despite Auburn's possible defeat, Jessica let him know that she "didn't care about his stupid game."
If bowl season, or a good old-fashioned conference rivalry, is attempting to divide your house, Jessica has some tips for how "not to kill each other."
"Just have fun with it, and maybe go to separate places to watch the game if possible. But I'll tell you this, I wouldn't watch any games with him if he went to Alabama."