Comebacks were made. Records were broken. Scandals were started. Trophies were presented. Trees were rolled. Trees were poisoned. Championships were won. Legends were born. Please enjoy our A-Day to A-Day, timeline’d retrospective on The Season That Was (and Forever Will Be) in Auburn Football.
April 17, 2010, Auburn Spring Game: Cam Newton plays in four offensive series and completes 3 of 8 passes for 61 yards in front of the largest crowd in A-Day history. Neil Caudle and Barrett Trotter take the majority of the snaps as Blue defeats White, 21-17. Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn says there isn’t going to be an announcement regarding the starting quarterback until “we’re 110 percent for sure.”
State sports pundits and fans question Newton’s accuracy and knowledge of Malzahn’s offense. Newton’s response: ‘‘The only thing holding me back is that I had this orange jersey on.”
After the game, an adoring Auburn public seeking autographs treats Newton like a sports icon. His charismatic, crowd-winning smile makes its first appearance.
Vox Populi [selected comments to timeline-related stories posted on al.com]
“[Newton is an] overrated average juco player. We’ll see how he does with Marcel Dareus breathing down his neck. This kid has kodi burns written all over him. Can’t wait for the laugh when all of you university of aubarn tech fan’s appointed “savior” falls flat on his face.”
April 28, 2010: Cam Newton is named Auburn’s No. 1 quarterback going into summer workouts. Gene Chizik says the decision was made after a thorough evaluation.
An al.com poll on the decision shows that 86 percent of the website’s readers chose “I like it,” with 14 percent choosing “I don’t like it.”
Informal student poll shows similar levels of excitement. One student refers to Cam as “a giant man-god ripped from the [blanking] bosom of Hera herself.” Another real person says “Newton will serve as Malzahn’s Sith apprentice and the two shall rule the SEC as Palpatine and Vader before them.”
Writer Spencer Hall of Everyday Should Be Saturday, a Florida fan, nicknames Newton “Inspiron Behemoth,” referencing both Newton’s size and his misadventures with consumer electronics. Other eventually earned nicknames include:
The Chosen One
The Blessed Individual
“Like Gomer would say SURPRISE! SURPRISE! SURPRISE!”
“Caudle will be starting before the season is over.”
May 21, 2010: Redshirt freshman Dontae Aycock is dismissed for an undisclosed violation of team rules. Aycock was expected to provide depth at running back. Auburn’s running back rotation now consists of Mario Fannin, Michael Dyer, Onterio McCalebb, and, potentially, Eric Smith.
July 20, 2010: Rising Auburn senior safety Zac Etheridge is cleared to play. Etheridge seriously injured his neck in the 2009 Ole Miss game. He missed the last three games of that season and all of spring practice. Considering the severity of the injury, his return was thought to be doubtful. But doctors say Etheridge is good to go, and at full speed. His experience and presence in Auburn’s secondary badly needed. More importantly, his injury wasn’t as bad or major as feared. (The status of Etheridge’s relationship with Ole Miss running back Rodney Scott, who realized Etheridge was in trouble and who didn’t move until the paramedics arrived to stabilize Etheridge’s neck, will dominate pre-game coverage when the Tigers face the Rebels in Oxford.)
From Etheridge’s Facebook account:
“I am VERY excited to announce that your very own #4 will be returning to the field this season with all of my love and passion for Auburn football!!!!! I would like to thank God for his amazing work for healing me up perfectly and the life he has given me. I want to thank everyone for their support and prayers bc i couldn’t have done it without you!!! get ready for a great season.. WAR EAGLE!!!!!”
August 4, 2010: First official fall practice.
August 12, 2010: Still practicing.
August 17, 2010: Kodi Burns catches two touchdowns as the Auburn offense scores 82 points on the Auburn defense in an 80-play night scrimmage inside Jordan-Hare. All kinds of foreshadowing.
“I’m concerned about the D. Now if the D held the O, I’d be concerned about the O but also wondering if our D was really that good. I pray the O is that good!!!
What really concerns me is the lack of turnovers the D is forcing. I thought that was going to be something highly coached this year. Hope the light switch turns on before Sept 4!”
September 4, 2010, #22 Auburn 52 Arkansas State 26: The 2009 Auburn formula of good offense + bad defense = exciting football seems to have continued into 2010. The offense? Better than imagined. Auburn gains 608 yards on just 65 plays, an average of 9.4 yards per play. It comes against an admittedly porous and overmatched Arkansas State defense. Still, wow.
The defense? New verse of the same stupid song. The secondary in particular looks suspect. Of Arkansas State’s 366 total yards, 323 came through the air.
In his first game as an Auburn Tiger, Cam Newton throws for three touchdowns and runs for two, including a 71-yard sideline solo jog during which the editor of this website stands up, somewhere in Section 4, and shouts “Heisman!” In another debut, true freshman five-star running back Michael Dyer runs for 95 yards on 14 carries. Dyer gets the majority of the carries after senior Mario Fannin fumbles early in the game.
“I don’t know if I have seen an individual performance better than Cam Newton. He is the best player I have ever seen live.”
— Arkansas State head coach Steve Roberts
“That was a fun game to watch. The offense was impressive…Newton is a beast and Dyer is a monster in the making. I was concerned about the defense at first but they adjusted and played a lot better in the second half. War Eagle!!!”
September 4-5, 2010: The editor of this website comes up with a timely pun walking home from the Arkansas State game that capture his feelings on Auburn’s potential. He stays up all night YouTube’ing Photoshop tutorials in an attempt to create a poster pairing the politically-rooted pun — Yes We Cam — to a tri-colored rendering of Cam Newton inspired by the iconic Shepard Fairey-designed image of Barack Obama. He succeeds and posts a hi-res version of the graphic to The War Eagle Reader.
September 9, 2010, #21 Auburn 17 Mississippi State 14: The perception that Auburn stole Cam Newton from Mississippi State leads a Starkville coffee shop (Strange Brew) to inscribe its marquee with “Cam’s coming. Hide ya’ wife, Hide ya’ kids” on one side and the (mistakenly) prescient “Auburn fans, don’t forget to pay your tithes to the Newton’s” on the other in the days leading up to the game. Auburn fans respond with potty-mouthed reviews from “J. Sherril” on restaurant review site Urban Spoon. The Auburn-Mississippi State rivalry is suddenly as bitter as a Strange Brew mochachino.
Newton “only” accounts for 206 yards of total offense during the Thursday night game. But he does throw two touchdown passes, one a slip screen to Emory Blake and the other a third and long frozen rope to Darvin Adams. Nick Fairley shows first flashes of his double team-destroying, Lombardi-winning ways. He finishes the game with five tackles, two-and-a-half tackles for a loss, a forced fumble, an interception, one-and-a-half sacks, and three quarterback hurries.
Mississippi State has a chance to tie or win late, but a dropped pass and a combination of Auburn’s defensive line pressure and quarterback failures lets Auburn escape with a three point win despite what would be its lowest point total of the season.
“I don’t see Auburn winning the West. Cam looked good, Farley looked great, and Dyer will get better and better – But I see too much talent in the West for Mr. Herbstreit to be correct.”
“Okay guys…tough game…we won…we learned alot…D stepped up…Offense learned alot and will regroup….2-0, 1-0 SEC War Damn Eagle!!!! Hey!!!!!”
— HSV TIGER–AU NATIONAL CHAMPS!!!!
September 15, 2010: A picture of a navy helmet with an orange-outlined white interlocking AU spreads across Auburn forums and blogs. Rumors tell of Auburn running out of the tunnel in blue pants to match the leaked blue helmet for its night game against Clemson and for thematic consistency with the planned fan “Blue Out” of Jordan-Hare. Opinions split. Families divided. Exclamation points abused. Bloggers get (even more) self-important.
“All In,” the season’s slogan — one of more than 800 — is born at a semi-impromptu nighttime Beat Clemson pep rally. Repeatedly referencing the spirit and scene of the 2009 “Rain Game” against West Virginia, Gene Chizik exhorts thousands of Auburn students to go buck wild all day long. In blue. In an ironic twist, “All In” was the slogan Dabo Swinney used for the 2009 Clemson season to inspire confidence after his questionable promotion to head coach.
September 18, 2010, #16 Auburn 27 Clemson 24 (OT):
ESPN Gameday broadcasts live from Auburn. Corso puts on the Auburn helmet — and it’s still white. Blue helmets are nowhere to be found. Yes We Cam posters stretch as far as the eye can see, embraced by typically conservative Auburn fans despite its agitprop allusions.
Same style, similar substance. Wes Byrum kicks a 35-yard field goal as the 2nd quarter ends to send Auburn into the locker room down 17-3. A fraternity pledge spends the better part of the 2nd quarter booing Gus Malzahn’s play-calling.
In the third quarter Auburn’s offense scores three touchdowns in three possessions, all three the result of Clemson punts, to take the lead. Clemson ties the score at 24-24 early in the fourth. Neither team scores the rest of regulation. In overtime, Auburn can’t get a first down but Byrum makes a 39-yard field goal. Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker overthrows a wide-open receiver in the end zone and Clemson’s freshman kicker misses a 32-yard field goal to end the game. The fraternity pledge cheers. Gene Chizik says of the game’s ending: “That was a God thing.”
Newton completes only seven passes in 14 attempts but still throws for 203 yards. Nick Fairley records three tackles for a loss and a sack.
“I think my heart stopped and skipped a beat at least three or four times during this game. Crazy, unbelievably hard-hitting game. This somewhat reminded me of the Auburn-LSU game several years ago that Auburn won 7-6 as far as the hitting. That said, Auburn still has a lot to improve on. In a sense that is good, because they are still 3-0 and still have room for improvement.”
September 25, 2010, #17 Auburn 35 #12 South Carolina 27: Michael Dyer outrushes fellow freshman superstud Marcus Lattimore, Cam goes Superman on his 54-yard touchdown run, leaping into the end zone from the seven yard line just because he can, and Auburn rushes for 334 yards in another primetime ESPN night game inside Jordan-Hare. Alshon Jeffery finishes with 192 yards receiving, but four fourth quarter turnovers and questionable quarterback management by the ever hard to please Steve Spurrier nosedives the Cocks. South Carolina enters the game the first ranked rush defense in the SEC. It leaves the eighth.
Newton throws for 158 yards and two touchdowns and runs for 176 and three touchdowns. Chants of “Heisman” officially begin in earnest. Fans begin to realize the specialness of the 2010 Tigers. Quiet but confident hope spreads.
“see ya’ll in t-town after your 8 homes games and home cooking but not in t-town haha ,but you are right bama and the tigers are the two best teams we see who’s best in t-town ? cool”
“blah blah blah war damn eagle”
October 2, 2010, #10 Auburn 52 Louisiana Monroe 3: Hohum. Newton completes a 94-yard pass to Emory Blake in the first quarter. The play is the longest completion in Auburn history, knocking off Chris Todd’s 93-yard pump-fake spectacular to Terrell Zachery against Louisiana Tech in 2009. Gus Malzahn — savior.
The backups get plenty of reps. Backup quarterback Barrett Trotter breaks a 29-yard touchdown run brightening future hopes.
October 9, 2010, #8 Auburn 37 Kentucky 34: Newton goes nuts on the ground, rushing for 198 yards on 28 carries and four touchdowns. He also passes for 210 yards. His antics give Auburn a 31-17 halftime lead.
But Kentucky, led by the rushing, receiving, and passing of Randall Cobb and the short, surgical passing of Mike Hartline, ties the game at 34 midway through the fourth.
With 7:22 left in the game, Newton takes over, leading a 19-play drive to set up a 24-yard field goal as time expires. Byrum nails it. The kick is his fifth career game winner and 51st in his Auburn career — one more than previous record-holder John Vaughn for first all-time in Auburn history.
“With the game on the line, [Cam] wants the ball in his hand. Week to week, he’s getting better and better.”
— Gene Chizik
“Survive and advance. Defense has to get better, now. Only thing that matters, 6-0. War Cam Eagle!”
“Y’all got tough games ahead of you. Good luck with Arkansas. They look better. You probably don’t have a chance. Anyways, goodluck……”
October 16, 2010, #7 Auburn 65 #12 Arkansas 43: Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, he of the tallness and inopportune interceptions, is forcefully concussed by Nick Fairley and leaves the game in the second quarter. Backup Tyler Wilson channels the spirit of the 2001 SEC Championship game Matt Mauck and nearly (with mucho grande help from the Auburn secondary) leads Arkansas to a shootout win. A Zac Ethridge 47-yard scoop and score and two Josh Bynes interceptions dash all the Hog dreams.
The Auburn offense goes wild, wilder than its ever gone before, in what was the highest scoring non-overtime game in SEC history. (It is suggested that Bo Jackson’s soon-to-be ubiquitous presence and pep talk plays a part.) Newton and Co. run for more than 300 yards in its third consecutive SEC game and scores on every offensive possession but one (or at least would have had it not been for a bad holding call on Lee Ziemba cancelling an opening drive bomb to Darvin Adams). Auburn drives: punt, touchdown, field goal, touchdown, touchdown, field goal, field goal, touchdown, punt, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, end of game. Newton continues being Newton. His chances at winning the Heisman shift from possible to likely.
“I’m still shaaaaking…WAR EAGLE!!!!!!!!!!!
He’s made me a believer…Cameron Newton is the best!”
“Dont think so this year.. maybe LSU but at this point I’m feeling something different about this auburn team.. Cam brings an incredible dimension and energy that is hard to beat. Auburn may lose to LSU but we will BEAT bama this year. I’d bet on it and before you bama mouths want me to put my money where my mouth is, send me a message and I will.”
October 23, 2010, #5 Auburn 24 #6 LSU 17: Auburn rushes for 440 yards against an LSU defense that came into the game ranked sixth in the nation and first in the SEC in rush defense. 440. An average of 8.5 per carry. It’s also the most rushing yards ever, EVAR!, allowed by LSU in its history. Shout out to the offensive line, especially the four seniors. Theirs is a dominating performance against a great defensive line.
Cam Newton finishes with 217 yards and two touchdowns, Michael Dyer with 100, and Onterio McCalebb with 84 on just four carries, which includes a 70-yard score that put Auburn up for good at 24-17. Nick Fairley, Josh Bynes, and the maligned Auburn defense hold LSU to 243 yards of total offense. Fairley finishes the game with three-and-a-half tackles for a loss and two-and-a-half highlight-hungry sacks.
Newton unofficially officially wins the Heisman Trophy with a 49-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. He takes the snap, reads the defensive end in a half-second, decides to keep, runs up the middle, loses himself for a second in the scrum, hop-steps right into the clear, breaks his first tackle, uses his left hand to regain balance, airbrakes and watches a second defender skid past, cuts to the middle of the field leaving an over-pursuer on the ground, sees All-American cornerback Patrick Peterson gaining ground near the twenty, accelerates, carries Peterson into the end zone from the five, finishes it all of with a couple shakes of the head, leaving his teammates and LSU defenders to futilely race after the bouncing ball.
He finishes the LSU game with 1,077 rushing yards on the season, the most by a quarterback in SEC history. The record was previously held by former Auburn quarterback Jimmy Sidle. He also breaks Pat Sullivan’s Auburn record of 26 total touchdowns in a season in the game. At the end of the game, he hurdles the fence around the field en route to the arms of adoring Auburn fans. The LSU victory is Auburn’s eighth of the season. It is an absolute moment.
“War Eagle! Put that in your BCS pipe and smoke it!! Chizik showed a lot of class by taking a knee when they probably could have scored!”
“Amazing game, as everyone was guessing. Offense unbelievable, rushing for over 400, Cam was, well, Cam. And big D showed up tonight. Coach Roof is stepping it up, gotta hand it to him, I thought he was toast. Fairley is the man. Looks like another SEC Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week go to Auburn! WDE!!!!”
October 24, 2010: Auburn jumps from fourth to first in the second week of BCS rankings. Toomer’s is rolled. Cam’s “Heisman run” against LSU flickers repeatedly in ESPN promos.
October 30, 2010, #3 Auburn 51 Ole Miss 31: And the beat goes on. Auburn’s offense once again rushes for 300+ yards against an SEC opponent. But this time it’s more Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb, as Ole Miss defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix designs his defense (a strategy emulated, or at least attempted, throughout the rest of the season) around stopping Newton’s rushing madness. Michael Dyer makes the Black Bears (?) pay, and finishes with 180 yards on 20 carries. McCalebb adds 99, including a 68-yard touchdown run.
Newton runs only for 45, but throws for two touchdowns. And catches one. Wide receiver (and former quarterback) Kodi Burns lines up in what is assumed to be a run out of the Wildcat formation, but instead lofts a fade route to Newton in the corner of the end zone. Newton, several inches taller than the unsuspecting corner, leaps and makes an over-the-shoulder catch, keeping two feet in bounds. The pantomimed Superman shirt reveal is entirely appropriate.
(It wasn’t a trap.)
“I’m sure he’ll throw out his defense wins championships yadda yadda yadda, but our defense has played better than our opposition for 9 straight weeks. I like our chances with our offense clicking the way it is. It will be impossible for any team to stop us completely. I truly believe our offense may be unstoppable at this point.”
October 31, 2010: The team celebrates Halloween with a party at the football complex. Cam Newton arrives dressed as a fairy in a white tutu complete with wand. Twitter collapses under the weight of “Glam Newton.” Tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen dresses as a giant Woody from Toy Story, Mario Fannin looks to be a retro NBA basketball player, fro and all, and offensive lineman Bart Eddins is a sexy midriff-revealing bearded cowgirl. The kickers unwittingly (wittingly?) confirm age-old stereotypes by dressing as fruit.
November 4, 2010: ESPN reporter Joe Schad, quoting Joe Schad, who interviewed Joe Schad, reports that Cam Newton’s father Cecil attempted to sell his son’s services to Mississippi State for $180,000. The news breaks during Newton’s much publicized attendance at a Christian student event on Auburn’s campus. Twitter again collapses. Former Mississippi State players Kenny Rogers and John Bond are said to be involved. Sports media outlets compete for title of “Best Histrionics.” Auburn is deemed guilty until proven innocent.
“I will say this loud and clear: Cameron Newton is eligible at Auburn University. Period. End of story.”
— Gene Chizik
November 6, 2010, #3 Auburn 62 Chattanooga 24: The starting lineup announcement that Cam Newton is Auburn’s starting quarterback receives a roar. Auburn scores touchdowns on each of its first six possessions. Newton only plays in the first half but still throws for 317 yards and four touchdowns, and rushes for another. Terrell Zachery and Darvin Adams both gain more than 100 yards receiving. The Tigers hit the snooze button in the 2nd half. On to Amen Corner.
“I love Auburn and that’s all I got to say. God has blessed me right now… When God be blessin’, the Devil be messin’.”
— Cam Newton
November 9, 2010: Stand By Your Cam. The allegations against Cam Newton intensify. The Auburn Family ™ closes ranks. The list of enemy journalists and bloggers includes Thayer Evans, Sports by Brooks, Pete Thamel, the Devil, Mike Bianchi, Joe Schad, Mark Schlabach, the Disney/ESPN conglomerate, the Illuminati, the Bilderberg Group.
November 11, 2010: Another Thursday night, another campus pep rally… that is for some reason doubly billed as a “flashmob rave.” Glowsticks are waved. The words “We Stand With Cam” glow from two dorm room windows. DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win,” the season’s bold entrance video anthem, is blasted. The Auburn seniors make a “surprise” appearance. The Auburn cheerleaders’ mic man takes the stage and announces: “This season, this team has taken this community, this city, this state on it’s back and carried us everywhere. And lately a lot of things have been coming out, a lot of allegations, so it’s time for us as the Auburn Family to do one more special thing.”
Under Trooper Taylor’s direction, players then lock arms with the rest of the students and end the pep rally in a rousing rendition of “Lean On Me,” the “Hard Fighting Soldier” of 2010. The implications are clear.
November 12, 2010: Thousands gather in the dark at the Athletic Complex the night before the Georgia game for a “Reverse Tiger Walk” to show their unflagging faith in Cam Newton’s innocence, sending the team off right for its no-distractions pre-game slumber party in Montgomery.
November 13, 2010, #2 Auburn 49 Georgia 31: Cam Newton, in what will be his last game at Jordan-Hare, is announced as Auburn’s starting quarterback. The stadium erupts. Georgia takes a 21-7 lead by the end of the first quarter causing announcers, bloggers, journalists, and the Internet opinionated to declare Newton and Auburn officially distracted by the scandal. Auburn responds with three consecutive touchdowns to take a 28-21 lead. Georgia ties it at 28, but the combined running of Newton and Onterio McCalebb is too much. Newton finishes with 151 yards rushing and two touchdowns and 148 yards passing, with two touchdown passes to Philip Lutzenkirchen. McCalebb runs for three touchdowns and 71 yards. Auburn’s last five drives end in touchdowns.
In the game, freshman Michael Dyer breaks Bo Jackson’s Auburn freshman rushing record. On the sideline, Bo kisses Dyer’s head and raises his arm to the joy of the Auburn assembled. Doves descend. As retaliation for being tackled into quarterback Aaron Murray’s porcelain leg near the end of the game (and a rightly-penalized late hit earlier in the game), the Bulldogs order a Code Red on Nick Fairley. Georgia linemen pin him to the ground and punch him after the play is blown dead, yet Fairley is adjudged the dirty player. A fight erupts. Georgia players clear the bench. Auburn players stay put. Fairley dons an imaginary wrestling championship belt. Michael Goggans is ejected from what’s left of the game. As a result, he will miss the first half of the Iron Bowl, along with Mike Blanc.
The win is Auburn’s eleventh of the year. It clinches an SEC West title and a spot in the SEC Championship game. After the game, AUHD shows a compilation of the season’s highlights set to the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling.” Thousands of fans, including the entire student section, stay in the stands to celebrate with Cam, Chizik, and the SEC West champion Auburn Tigers.
“Washington out returned Boykin and beleive it or not Shoemaker out punted Butler. Didn’t see that happening. Cam, O’Mac, and Lutz showed up BIG tonight with 7 TD’s. Auburn is the 2010 SEC Western Divison Champions. That sounds great and I love it. War Eagle.”
“That is hilarious how UGA is a dirty team and the Burn is a team that does no wrong. Give me a break. Well enjoy it while you CAM i mean can since he is inelgible. Anyways look foward to a great iron bowl.. Do yall believe Auburn is a clean team? ROLL TIDE ROLL”
November 14, 2010: The trees at Toomer’s Corner are set on fire. Repeatedly. The first incident is reported around 2 a.m. Georgia fans are initially blamed for the blaze. The scene dissolves into a drunken he-said, she-said. No arrests are made. The trees suffer minor damage.
November 26, 2010, #2 Auburn 28 #9 Alabama 27: Before the game, Bryant-Denny stadium DJs serenade Cam Newton with Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man” and Steve Miller’s “Take The Money and Run.” Bama students throw Monopoly money onto the field. With two minutes to go in the first quarter, the compiler of this list sits sullenly in the upper deck. The man to his right starts drinking Wild Turkey straight from the bottle when Bama scores its third touchdown. He leaves after a field goal puts the Tide ahead 24-0. The Compiler’s former Auburn neighbor, sitting several rows over, catches his eye and tells him to keep the faith; Auburn’s got this. The Compiler doubts. He is sure she knows nothing of football.
But no. Or yes. Yes! Defensive end Antoine Carter somehow catches a fleeing, alone-on-the-sideline Mark Ingram. He not only catches Ingram, but uses his (Carter’s) right arm to punch the ball out with such force that it flies 20 yards through the end zone for an Auburn touchback. The Auburn offense, which has been dominated, absolutely dominated, all day by Alabama’s pass rush, suddenly shows signs of life. Cam Newton leads an eight-play, 80-yard drive culminating with a 38-yard touchdown pass to Emory Blake. Alabama drives inside the Auburn 10 as the half comes to a close. Fairley blows through the Alabama offensive line, forces a fumble, and scrambles around a clueless Alabama lineman to recover the fumble. At the half, 24-7, Alabama.
Auburn’s offense all year has been an understood inevitability. Not an if but a when. The when happens on the second play of the third quarter. Newton hits Terrell Zachery on a straight go in stride. Zachery breaks a tackle and outruns a trailing defender for a 70-yard touchdown. 24-14. Then it’s Newton on a one-yard keeper. 24-21. Quindarius Carr muffs a punt and Alabama kicks a field goal, its only points of the half. 27-21. Auburn converts a fourth down on a fake quarterback pooch punt in which Newton hits Darvin Adams on an out-route for the first. The ultimately game-winning score comes on an against-the-grain throwback to a wide-open Philip Lutzenkirchen for a seven-yard touchdown and a two-yard buck dance.
Newton plows forward on fourth and one late in the game for a first to drain extra time. Alabama gets one more chance with less than a minute to play but goes four and out.
The 24-0 comeback is the biggest in Iron Bowl history, the biggest in Auburn history. The win is Auburn’s seventh against Alabama in the last nine years.
“When you play against good teams, you’re going to have to play for 60 minutes. These kind of teams don’t go away.”
— Nick Saban
“How about that. Well, Alabama is still the best three loss team in the country. WAR EAGLE!”
“HEY BAMA. We spotted you 24 points and you STILL couldn’t hold on to win.. Way to go Tiger!!!! WARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR EAGLE!!!!!!!!!!!!”
November 30, 2010: Auburn rules Cam Newton ineligible to play football.
December 1, 2010: The NCAA rules Cam Newton eligible to play football. Announcement in the Auburn Student Center: “Attention all students: Cam is in the clear.” Toomer’s Corner is (lightly) rolled.
December 4, 2010, #2 Auburn 56 #18 South Carolina 17: The Tigers pick the SEC Championship game to play their most complete game of the season. Cam Newton throws for 335 yard and four touchdowns and rushes for 73 and two more touchdowns. Adams, Newton’s primary target all year, finishes with 217 yards and two touchdowns. His 217 yards is a SEC Championship game record. All 217 come in the first half. Newton’s throws a 51-yard Hail Mary into the end zone as time expires in the second quarter. The ball is tipped and caught by Darvin Adams. Of course. The touchdown puts Auburn up 28-14. South Carolina won’t come any closer.
Near the end of the game, Newton introduces CBS sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson to the mystery and power of “Cammy Cam Juice.” Wolfson squirts “the ingredients of champions” into her mouth. Her technique is . . . unfortunate. “Not bad, a little sweet for my tastes,” she says. Newton and Auburn wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor crack up. Video of the squirt goes viral overnight. The Internet is a terrible place.
After the game, offensive linemen Byron Isom and Mike Berry lift Newton onto their shoulders in celebration. Later Cam is caught making snow angels in the celebratory confetti.
Auburn’s 56 points are the most ever in an SEC Championship game. Its margin of victory, 39, is the largest in the game’s history. Newton is named MVP. His six total touchdowns tie him with Danny Wuerffel’s six touchdowns in Florida’s 1996 win over Alabama.
“National Championship here we come!!!”
December 8, 2010: Nick Fairley is awarded the Lombardi Award as the nation’s best lineman. Defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, and winner of the award in 1988 for Auburn, attends the ceremony. Fairley, who was also named SEC defensive player of the year by the associated press, finishes the season with 21 tackles for a loss (an Auburn record), 10.5 sacks, and 55 tackles.
December 9, 2010: Cam Newton wins the Davey O’Brien Award (nation’s top quarterback), the Maxwell Award (best all-around player), and the Walter Camp Award (best player). He smiles a lot.
December 11, 2010: Cam Newton wins the Heisman trophy by a landslide, joining former Auburn winners Pat Sullivan and Bo Jackson. More than 500 Auburn fans living in New York City are on hand at Best Buy Theater, where the Heisman ceremony is held, to congratulate him. Newton’s numbers: 2,589 pass yards, 28 touchdowns; 1,409 rush yards; 20 touchdowns. He’s the first player in SEC history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for a 1,000. He is just the third player to pass for 20 touchdowns and run for 20. Toomer’s Corner is rolled by a thousand Auburn fans, including a bride in her wedding dress. Alice Fraasa, the SnorgTees Girl, holds a Yes We Cam poster over her head in the middle of College Street. Aubie holds it up and strikes a Heisman pose. People cheer. It begins to drizzle.
December 14, 2010: Cam appears on The Late Show with David Letterman to perform “The Top Ten Things Cam Newton can say now that he’s won the Heisman…” The funniest line is No. 8: “Is it strange that after a big win, CBS broadcaster Vern Lundquist insists on showering with us?”
January 9, 2011: Dozens of flights across the country turn into impromptu pep rallies as Auburn fans young and old converge on Glendale in the hopes of seeing what after 2004 and 1993 and 1983 and all the other close-but-not-quites seemed impossible. They descend upon the desert to see Auburn win a National Championship.
January 10, 2011, #1 Auburn 22 #2 Oregon 19: Auburn does what Auburn has done all season — run and stop the run. Oregon’s Heisman runner-up LaMichael James is held to 49 yards rushing. The vaunted, revered, mystical Duck offense rushes for only 75 yards on 32 carries. The Auburn defensive line, led by Nick Fairley with his sack and three tackles for a loss, dominates the line of scrimmage. What was supposed to be a shootout turns into a near-stalemate punctuated by big plays.
Cam Newton has his most un-Cam Newton-like game of the season. He throws an interception early and fumbles late. He still accounts for Auburn’s only two touchdowns — a 35-yard pass to Kodi Burns and a 30-yard completion to Emory Blake. Michael Dyer is named offensive MVP. He finishes the game with 143 yards on 22 carries. His two biggest runs of the night come during Auburn’s final drive.
With the score tied at 19 and 2:11 left in the game, Newton hands off to Dyer. He’s spun down after a six-yard gain. . . but not really. He isn’t down. He gets up, does a double take like everyone else, and keeps running for 37 yards. All the way down to the Oregon 23 yard line. There’s a review. The play stands. Michael Dyer — the no-whistle missile.
Dyer breaks another run down to the Oregon two. It’s initially ruled a touchdown, but this time instant replay proves Dyer’s knee touched short. Oregon stuffs Cam’s impromptu quarterback-take-a-sneak. The clock shows :02. Byrum stands at the 13. The snap, the hold, perfect. National Champs. The 53 years of waiting is done and gone. War Eagle. War Eagle Forever.
“JUST SAY IT OVER AND OVER AND OVER 28 OR 27 TIMES…..AUBURN IS THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONS”
— Weagle – NATIONAL CHAMPIONS – Tigers
“Amazing feeling. The bams said it would never happen, now here we are. Defense play amazing, Mike Dyer is the truth. War Eagle. Its great to be an Auburn Tiger”
January 13, 2011: Cam Newton announces that he will skip his senior season and declare for the NFL Draft.
January 14, 2011: Nick Fairley announces that he will skip his senior season and declare for the NFL Draft.
January 22, 2011: 78,000 fans show to celebrate Auburn’s National Championship inside Jordan-Hare. It’s cold and it’s windy. Nobody seems to care. 53 years is a long time.
“We got a big God. And he said ‘yes’ to Auburn football.”
— Gene Chizik
January 27, 2011: “Al from Dadeville” calls The Paul Finebaum Show. Transcript:
Al: This year I was at the Iron Bowl. And I saw where they put a “Scam Newton” jersey on Bear Bryant’s statue.
Finebaum: OK, now, again, that’s 28 years later.
Al: Well lemme tell you what I did. The weekend after the Iron Bowl, I went to Auburn, Alabama, because I live 30 miles away, and I poisoned the two Toomer’s trees.
Finebaum: [laughing] Well that’s fair.
Al: I put Spike 80DF in them.
Finebaum: Did they die?
Al: Do what?
Finebaum: Did they die?
Al: They’re not dead yet, but they …
Finebaum: They will be?
Al: They definitely will die.
Finebaum: Is that against the law? To poison a tree?
Al: Do you think I care?
Al: I really don’t… Roll Damn Tide.
February 2, 2011: Signing day, finally. Twenty-four young men sign letters of intent to play for Auburn University. The recent transfer from Florida of four-star running back Mike Blakely gives Auburn the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation according to Scout. Rivals lists Auburn as No. 7; ESPN as No. 3. Auburn’s only real miss of the day is consensus five-star offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandjio, who says he will sign with Auburn but reneges and signs with Alabama.
February 16, 2011 The University issues a press release stating the Toomer’s oaks have indeed been poisoned.
“Their chance of survival is very slim. Still, a task force made up of university horticulturists, landscapers, agronomists, engineers, chemists and others has undertaken a series of steps to give the trees a fighting chance….”
February 17, 2011 Harvey Updyke, 62, is arrested by Auburn police. Updyke is held on $50,000 bond and faces felony charges that could lead to 10 years in prison.
“Criminal mischief? 60 times the normal amount used and that’s the charge? What about federal charges for using a harmful chemical around general population? I thought the fbi was involved? I hope more charges are pending. They need to sell tickets to Jordan Hare and put him on the 50.”
“Wow. That did not take long. A series of questionable choices have led you to this day Harvey. I hope that you get a fair hearing before the judge and punished commensurate with the evidence on hand. Given that it took less than a day to find, arrest, and charge you — I’d say the prosecutors have a pretty strong case. Roll Tide”
February 28, 2011 Blocking back Eric Smith is dismissed from the team following a violation of unspecified team rules.
March 11, 2011 Four Auburn players — Mike McNeil, Shaun Kitchens, Dakota Mosley, and Antonio Goodwin — arrested and charged with five counts of first-degree robbery. Three, possibly all four, reportedly entered a residence with one brandishing a handgun. Their car was stopped on Wire Road and the suspects taken into custody. All four were permanently dismissed from the team.
“I am extremely disappointed and embarrassed by the actions of these individuals. I want to personally apologize to all of those who were impacted by this senseless act, including the victims, Auburn University and the Auburn family.”
— Gene Chizik
March 23, 2011 Auburn begins spring practice for the 2011 season. The team must replace more than two-thirds of its starters and somewhere near 33 players off of last season’s championship team.
March 30, 2011: Four former Auburn players appear on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. Stanley McClover, Troy Reddick, Raven Gray, and Chaz Ramsey all say they received various sums of money on numerous occasions from Auburn boosters during their recruitment and playing days at Auburn. McClover says he also received money from LSU and Ohio State during recruiting visits.
“One of my friends, [Auburn graduate assistant] Travis Williams, told me about the situation with HBO, and I was like, ‘What do they have to tell? Nothing happened.’ He said it was supposedly saying coaches gave money for this and that and I was just like, ‘What they’re saying is totally ludicrous.’”
— Former Auburn player Quentin Groves on the allegations
April 16, 2011, Auburn Spring Game: The defense wins the 2011 A-Day with a score of something like 63-32 (blame Chizik’s odd scoring system). Dueling quarterbacks Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley split the first half snaps. Trotter looks more comfortable and makes more down-the-field throws. Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb play little more than a series a piece. Chandler Brooks kicks fields goal of 43, 41, and 48 yards. Punter Steven Clark had a nice day, averaging 47.2 yards a punt. It is the 96th day of Auburn’s reign as national champions. Overall, uneventful.