The War Eagle Nation got its due, 22-19. It could have been more. It should have been more but, after so many shoulda, woulda, coulda, almost, damn-near-but-not-quite years of great Auburn football, the 2010 version of The Auburn Tigers got it done in early 2011. In the bright lights of the Arizona desert, the boys brought home the crystal football. Auburn Football is the best in the land. No doubt. No more do we have to sing that familiar litany: if only such and such would have so and so’d, we would have won, but we’ll get them next year. Never again.
We won it once before. So we’ll behave like it. Coach Ralph Shug Jordan taught those of us lucky enough to be one of “Shug’s boys” to act like a champion, win or lose. He won the national championship 54 years ago, before two generations of today’s Auburn Family were born. College football’s bright lights didn’t shine as brightly then and the stakes were not quite as high.
Cam, Nick, Michael, Lee, Antoine, Zack, Josh and hero after hero after hero delivered us to the Promise Land of a 21st century National Championship. We’re still drinking from the cup. Cheers to those young men with hearts of champions beating inside them. They reign at the top of the greatest lists of AU football. The teams from 2004, 1993, 1983, 1972, 1957 all have to move over at the top of the pedestal of bragging rights and make a place at the peak for this group. They earned it. Along the way they’ve created new memories for former Auburn players who labored on teams that were on the wrong side of 35-0 scores and promises of wait until next year. Yep, they’re at the top. I’m getting out of the way. Moving over, fast.
This Auburn coaching staff coaches its ass off. They are one of the finest to walk Jordan-Hare’s sidelines. First and ten with the opportunity of a lifetime, they scored and danced in the end zone, the scoreboard of opportunity flashing brilliant, high definition color in television sets all over America.
The phone calls and texts began with the final kick, 00:00 on the clock, the Auburn nation inebriated on the elixir of total victory and other worldly juices. Old teammates cried with joy and professed to me, “I love you.” Ralph, who played basketball at Birmingham Southern College, texted “War Eagle, Baby.” Terry, my Hollywood actor friend, a native of Oregon, left a voice message, “You guys are the best.” Joe, a writer from Los Angeles, a Texas grad, whose wife died of stomach cancer, last year e-mailed “So happy for you. What a great game.” An anonymous writer texted, “War Damn Eagle.”
Closer to home, my next-door neighbor, an Auburn grad, enthusiastically garbled something inaudible over the Arizona desert cell phone lines, but I got the message. My other next-door neighbor, the Alabama grad, turned off his lights and pretended he could sleep.
The Auburn Nation stands taller today. As football’s national champions, (can you ever say that enough?) there will be more scoring opportunities for the university. Academic growth, gifts and donations, business development, and the marketing of the university will be ratcheted up. With Dr. Jay Gogue calling the plays, Auburn continues to grow fiscally, academically. Athletic Director Jay Jacobs guides athletics with class.
The Auburn Nation today is larger, and more relevant on the world stage. We’re here. We’re there. We’re everywhere.
Did I mention we’re the college football national champions?
Let’s do it again!
Thom Gossom, Jr. a former AU football player, is an actor, author and business consultant. He is the author of Walk-On, My Reluctant Journey to Integration at Auburn University.
You can read TWER’s feature on Thom here.
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