USA Today sports writer George Schroeder has a long history and close relationship with Gus Malzahn that provided him fantastic access for his fantastic story on the final 79 seconds of Auburn’s football season.
In the middle there’s a great little thing about Cam Newton. ESPN had a clip of Newton introducing “fellow Georgia boy” and “bona fide playmaker” Nick Marshall as Auburn took the field in the BCS National Championship Game.
But I was wondering if the Blessed Individual was actually there. Turns out he was—in spirit and in Skype:
Cam Newton might have best illustrated the mindset on Sunday evening. The catalyst for Auburn’s 2010 national championship team, Newton was asked by Malzahn to be an honorary coach, and to speak to the team before the Tigers took the field Monday. But with the Carolina Panthers in the playoffs, he couldn’t make it to Pasadena. Instead, they improvised.
Auburn’s players and coaches had just finished their evening meal in a ballroom on the second floor of the Omni Hotel in Los Angeles. A big screen in the corner had been showing the Godaddy.com Bowl. But then the game was gone. “Look,” someone said, “it’s Cam.” And then Malzahn asked for everyone’s attention.
“Cam was really wanting to be here,” he said, “but … Cam, are you ready?”
Cam was. For the next 10 minutes, sitting in front of a webcam, Newton delivered a stemwinder worthy of any head coach. “I look at their schedule, I don’t see nothing that really wows me,” Newton said, and he added, as though he were talking to the Seminoles: “You ain’t played no Alabama. You ain’t played no Georgia. You ain’t played no Missouri. … Y’all ain’t been tested. Y’all ain’t been through what we went through.
“They don’t know what you went through, going 3-9. It wasn’t pretty, but it made you who y’all are.
“This whole year, you guys was always the underdog, the stepbrothers, the little train that could. Now you have an opportunity to prove yourselves to the world … to seize something you can have for the rest of your life. It’s only one team that can be crowned and say they had jewelry. This is a jewelry-collecting team – go collect your jewelry.”
Newton finished simply: “War Eagle.” The response, in unison, was emphatic: “War Eagle!”
Here’s the link to Schroeder’s story again.
Related: The Team of Second Chances.
* George Wallace trading insults with hippies at Toomer’s Corner
* ‘A Momma Goldberg’s menu from 1979
* What Auburn thought about Toomer’s toilet paper removal in 1979
* Florida State fraternity pledges caught attempting unspeakable initiation rite at Auburn dorm
* That time Auburn majorettes tried to get fans to streak at A-Day
* Congrats Auburn fans—you survived an earthquake
* ‘One of the smartest f***ing minds in football’
* Watch Pat Dye lick sugar off of a football
* The play that saved Auburn football
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