Continuing in our series of teasers for the TWER-produced “Tigers Kickoff” Auburn annual put out by Maple Street Press [available to order here and for purchase in books and grocery stores across our great state]…
As did our guesses on which Auburn QB would get the nod to huff Cam Newton’s vapor trail, this particular content comes from the roundtable portion of the magazine, which asks questions about the length of Gus Malzahn’s Auburn tenure, the importance of the 2011 season in defining Gene Chizik’s career, which players on offense and defense will have breakout seasons, and yes, just how Auburn might repeat as your national champions… among other things.
Where did you watch Auburn win the national championship? What did it feel like?
Jerry Hinnen: The first question is easy: Section 420, Row 10, Seat 13 in University of Phoenix Stadium. As for the second one, well, do you mind if I end up taking the rest of this page and the next two? That might give me enough space to cover it, though note I said “might.”
In all seriousness, it felt like what it was: the culmination of an entire lifetime’s worth of burnt orange-and-navy blue dreams playing out on the field below me. It felt so emotionally exhilarating that it became, literally, physically exhausting. It felt like being trapped on the world’s greatest amusement park ride for four hours. It felt like walking across a mile-long balance beam with alligators snapping below but while being cheered on by the floating heads of Tucker Fredrickson and my grandfather as the Auburn marching band plays the fight song. I don’t know, really, how to say what it felt like. I just knew I’d never felt like that before, and I never will again. I’d like to think that one day, that experience as an Auburn fan—as a sports fan—might be equaled. But it won’t be topped. I know it, in my bones. And I knew it before I’d even walked away from my seat.
Van Allen Plexico: From Section 437 of the University of Phoenix Stadium! And it felt like… well, why should I try to describe it when you can just “see” how it felt? The video picks up just after Dyer’s run to the one yard line. You might want to skip to the last minute or so, to get the “felt like” part.
Justin Lee: I watched the national championship game from a frigid central Alabama, on a television with my dad and my brother. Watching Wes Byrum’s kick go through was like a wave of relief, and it was as if suddenly all of the moments we had shared, all of the superhuman efforts we had witnessed, and the entire magical season had at once become real, set in diamond forever. I remember being glad it was over, as somehow the idea of a sad goodbye to that team was completely washed away by the pride and satisfaction that the 2010 Auburn Tigers had never been beaten, and never will be.
Will Collier: Section 247 in Glendale, and it felt just like January 2, 1984 and January 3, 2005 in New Orleans, or November 20, 1993 in Auburn–which is to say, entirely wonderful.
Kenny Smith: We’d intended to watch it from the Auburn Arena, as we did the SEC Championship game. But the threat of the possibility that someone would mention the word ice outside of a kitchen context closed campus. So we watched it from home. I maintain that I never worried about Auburn in between the Clemson final and the big lead in the Iron Bowl. I stopped worrying for the rest of the season when Antoine Carter didn’t give up at midfield and forced the big fumble.
Just before that last drive against Oregon, though, before the certainty of the juggernaut kicked in, the feeling was more than mildly uncomfortable. Mike Dyer’s microcosmic run was so fitting, and so exhilarating and so … exhausting.
Ben Bartley: I was in the stadium. Can’t remember where exactly. They were nice seats, though. You know when you really have to go to the bathroom? Like you’ve been holding it for 200, 300 miles. And after you release you walk back out into the gas station and there’s a cute girl browsing the candy aisle. You smile and she return smiles all pretty and friendly and stuff. You get into the passenger seat of your friend’s 1994 baboon-butt red Mustang, falling asleep as he drives into the setting sun, the internal temperature a direct result, warm but not hot. And then you suddenly lapse into a dream where everyone you’ve ever thought important tells you how smart and funny and special you are. Like that but with more pork nachos and confetti.
One reason why Auburn could repeat as national champions is _____________.
Jerry: Against this schedule? With a team this green? Divine intervention, and nothing short of it. And I’m not even talking about that sly, sneaky “no one will notice if I, God, push this kick two inches to the left and onto the upright” type of divine intervention. I’m talking about the clouds opening up against Arkansas and the eternal light of heaven shining down as the voice of God thunders “THESE ARE THE AUBURN TIGERS, WITH WHOM I AM WELL-PLEASED” as the entire team grows wings and starts glowing and just before the clouds close back up you hear “GOOD LUCK, PETRINO” and kind of a thunderous laugh. That kind of divine intervention. But OK, if I have to take the question seriously: Gus Malzahn, the greatest offensive mind in college football. 14 more straight games spent scoring 35 to 45 points and eking out 1 to 7 point victories? Sure, I could handle that.
Van: …that 2012, 2013, and 2014 will be here before you know it. Oh– you mean in 2011?? Oh, no no no no no. There are no circumstances under which that could happen. Look– Auburn was so snakebitten with regard to national championships that it took all the various semi-miraculous ingredients coming together in 2010 for an Auburn team to finally break through (including an all-universe QB and a monster breakout D-lineman). Many of those ingredients are gone. No matter how good the cook is, he can’t make jambalaya if he’s (temporarily) out of chicken and rice and okra and spices. But the future is bright!!
Justin: The truth is, after five straight national champions representing the conference, the SEC championship game winner will be in the BCS title game in 2011-2012. This 2011 Auburn team may seem pedestrian now… but they could find their identity and a will to win by midseason, when the schedule begins to pick up. If they do that, it’s possible that they could make another run in the wild, wild SEC West, which last season Auburn could have won in multiple scenarios with two conferences losses. If the Tigers could navigate the regular season with one or two conference losses and get to Atlanta, then there’s no telling what could happen. The schedule doesn’t favor Auburn, and even Auburn doesn’t favor Auburn, but the conference that they play in does. It would be a different miracle run in 2011 than it was in 2010; Instead of dominating the conference and stealing all of the headlines, they would quietly find their way through while the rest of the SEC West beat themselves up. But if they can survive the SEC, then they’ll earn respect for it, and earn another shot at the crystal football.
Will: It’s pretty unlikely given the lack of experienced depth, but somebody is going to win the BCS, and Auburn is as eligible as anybody (give or take Southern Cal, of course). After all, it’s not like it hasn’t happened before.
Kenny: We learn that Trooper Taylor’s towel is really coordinating a spy satellite to hover over the east sideline of Jordan-Hare Stadium, peering into the playbooks of the opposing teams. Any other explanation just wouldn’t sound plausible.
Ben: Blake Burgess.
* Rev. Barrett Trotter
* First Auburn National Championship Shirt Ever
* Fantastic photos of Bjork inside Jordan-Hare Stadium
* Willie Nelson’s Auburn shirt
* Pat Dye builds a fence
* Auburn BCS Bus rescues youth group