Friday, January 14, 2011
National Title Review: (AU 22 Oregon 19)
2010 National Champion Auburn Tigers...I stand and salute you for a magical, dream season. A season in which your character, cohesiveness, and integrity were tested weekly, both on and off the football field, and each week you amazed me with your ability to rise above the fray and battle together towards victory. A season in which the Tigers had the best individual offensive and defensive players in America on the same squad and how either of you had the ability to completely dominate a football game. A season in which so many contributed to victorious outcomes, yet did it with little attention or praise...here's to you Darvin Adams at Kentucky, here's to you Onterio McCalebb against LSU, to you Mike McNeil becoming a tackling machine in the biggest game of your life, the national title, to you Antoine Carter making your signature hustle play against the Tide and Mark Ingram, to you offensive line for paving the way for one of the most dominant rushing football teams in collegiate history, to you Craig Sanders for covering kicks like a mad man all year long, to you Demond Washington for your Ole Miss kick return, you Zac Etheridge and Aairon Savage for your leadership, your determination to battle back from career and life altering injuries to guide a young defense, you Phillip Lutzenkirchen for coming up with big-time TD catches time and time again, you T'Sharvan Bell for raising your level of play in the biggest games of the year, you Michael Dyer for making that incredible run that will grant you Auburn immortality, you Kodi Burns for giving up your natural position, your body, and sometimes your teeth to allow others success, you Coach Chizik for building this program according your vision and making it enjoyable to come to work every day!
But my biggest behind the scenes contributors go to the two men that were brought to campus by Coach Tuberville and who have been the most instrumental hires Auburn University has made in its athletic department bar none...to you Coach Yox and Chette Williams...you're like fathers to us players, you mold us physically and spiritually into men by pushing us beyond our comfort zones, you make us believe in our abilities and in each other by the work ethic you instill, the ear you lend, the encouragement you provide. You are the best in the business at what you both do and Auburn is lucky to have you. You both deserve this more than anyone else associated with Auburn athletics and I for one am grateful for what you meant to not only this team, but what you have meant to my life! Thank you!
Winning another national championship was undoubtedly a long time coming for the Auburn Family. Many great teams, many great coaches, many great individual players have come through the program and given us all moments of grandeur. Many teams were passed over ('83, '93, '04) and not permitted the opportunity to prove their worth on the field of play denying Auburn the elusive prize. But this team had that special characteristic of unity like none I've ever seen. That is a direct reflection of the coaches and the leadership qualities of the seniors on this football team. You seniors will be a successful group in whatever direction life takes you as those qualities are hard to come by.
-Auburn packed the house. It looked like a home game on TV. Ticket prices rose to the price of compact cars and shut down ticket broker sites. The world learned what I already knew, Auburn fans are the most passionate fans in America. It was a lesson in the Auburn spirit!
-Field conditions were putrid, the worst I've ever seen. I noticed guys slipping on the opening kickoff and as a direct marketing battle took place between Under Armor and Nike, I'm sure the athletes weren't the only ones pissed about the miserable performance of their product on a slippery field.
-Mike Dyer's run encapsulated Auburn's season in one play...unbelievable, never quit/play to the whistle, incredibly athletic moment. Most years his knee hits, but in a year like 2010, when hail marys go for TDs in championship games and fumbles roll 30 yards down the sideline...his run and athleticism set up an Auburn National Title.
-Nick Fairley is a beast! The SEC is glad to see you go! You're an unblockable demon and I wish I could have played with you. Coach Oliver would have loved you! The Auburn Family always will! He made too many plays in this game to even begin to name them.
-Glad to see Kodi get in the endzone to open the scoring in his final game. His entire season was spent doing the dirty work to make others look good. Great to see his efforts rewarded with a TD.
-The safeties played their best football of the season. Mike McNeil was the run-away leader in tackles (a few of the bone-crushing variety), and Zac Etheridge was in position all night with an athletic INT and several open field tackles.
-Cam showed grit and resolve playing through pain, something we haven't seen him endure this season amazingly. He was the most amazing talent I've ever seen as a dual threat quarterback and the memories he gave us will be cherished forever. Just as I wish I could have played with Nick Fairley, I'm so glad I never had to prepare for and tackle Cam Newton. (Wouldn't you hate to be the guy he ran over from Arkansas on the goalline!)
Amazing game...capped off an amazing season...played by an amazing group of young men. Thank you guys for the memories! War Damn Eagle!