Jeff Bryant was born in Selma, Alabama, a small, yet well-known town about two hours south of Tuscaloosa where a certain houndstooth hat wearing football coach who shared his last name was suffering through a 6-5-1 season and whose team would end up losing to cross-state rivals Auburn in the so-called Iron Bowl a few weeks after Jeff's birth. Some would think that having the last name of the state's most famous person would mean that Jeff had no other choice than to become, like his father, a devoted fan of the Crimson Tide. But baby Jeff had other plans, choosing instead the orange and blue and the War Eagle! cry of Auburn. This was the first of many times he would disappoint his father. In an attempt to win him over, Jeff's father would take him to Tuscaloosa on those rare occasions when the Tide would play a game at Bryant-Denny Stadium instead of in Birmingham, and Jeff would be schooled in the honor and tradition of that great football powerhouse. Still, he wouldn't budge from his decision and the rift between father and son grew to the point that on the day of the year that the two rivals met, Iron Bowl Saturday, Jeff would have to leave his house so that he wouldn't suffer the wrath of his angry father if Auburn won or the mocking of his overly rambunctious father if Auburn lost.
To this day Jeff Bryant hates Tuscaloosa. Maybe not as much as Barry Hannah seems to hate Tuscaloosa, but he can't stand the place. Even spelling it out presents difficulty, makes him think of all of those days on his father's lap when he would be subjected to tasteless jokes about cows and Auburn cheerleaders. So when Jeff picked up this quarter's Read This! selection and noticed that Michael Martone teaches writing at the University of Alabama, he had to fight the urge to skip this reading. He's glad he did because it proves to him that his favorite saying, "Even a blind squirrel finds a nut," has real merit. From now on, instead of focusing on the negative aspects of Tuscaloosa and its university, he'll be able to say to his dad, "There's a pretty good writer teaching there." He's pretty sure his father will change the subject quickly and bring up the blue-chip recruit from Hoover High who is choosing Alabama over Auburn. Jeff will wonder if the blue-chip recruit has a need for a contributor's note. If so, he's going to the right university.
Jeff Bryant no longer lives in Alabama. He does manage to still hate the Crimson Tide.