(photo:Lauren Barnard/Auburn Media Relations)
“We were just on the brink of making it one of those magical seasons,” Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn said after his Auburn Tigers lost the final BCS National Championship Game to Florida State 34-31. It was a tough and disheartening ending to what had seemed like a dream season. Yet never before has the Auburn family been more proud of an Auburn Football Team.
The Tigers finish the season ranked No. 2 in the country in both the AP and Coaches poll. However, that was not much consolation for a bunch of young men who traveled so far in their 2013 comeback season. Winless in conference play in 2012, Auburn started out being picked to finish near the bottom of the South Eastern Conference. Instead the Tigers won the SEC and came within 13 seconds of being crowned national champions.
What they and their coaches have accomplished in such a short time is nothing less than miraculous. Yes, dare I say magical. They captured the nation’s imagination, gave their fans hope, and restored Auburn to national prominence.
Along the way they beat their two biggest rivals in two of the all-time greatest games in the history of the sport, played in what many have labeled as one of the best BCS National Championship games, had one of the best seasons ever for the Auburn program, and completed one of the greatest turnarounds in college football history.
I never thought that a team could steal my heart from my favorite team – the1963 Tigers led by Jimmy Sidle and Tucker Frederickson. Not the ’72 Amazins, not the great Pat Dye teams of the 80′s, not the undefeated teams of ’93 and 2004, not even the 2010 National Champions could do that. But this team has done it. And not only for me but I suspect for thousands of other Auburn fans as well.
Still many of the players expressed regrets after Monday night’s game for letting the Auburn Family down. Tre Mason in particular, apologized to the fans on Twitter for not winning the National Championship. Tre said, “We owed it to them after last season.”
No Tre you didn’t owe us anything. You gave us much more than a crystal ball. You gave us hope, you gave us treasured memories, you gave us an example of what people can do when they follow the Auburn Creed. Yes you showed us what it really means to “believe in work, hard work. To believe in a sound mind, in a sound body, in a spirit that is not afraid, and in clean sports that develop these qualities.”
Not only did Tre and his teammates set that example but they also are the champions of the toughest football conference in the nation.
They have set the bar high for future Auburn teams. Just like “Bo over the top, Punt Bama Punt” and “Nix to Sanders,” this team’s heroics will be talked about for generations. Heroics like Tre Mason’s 304 yards against Missouri in the league championship game, Ricardo Louis’ “Prayer in Jordan-Hare”catch against Georgia, and Chris Davis “Kick Six” field goal return to beat No.1 Alabama. Those plays along with Rod Bramblett’s calls of those exhilarating moments … will live on forever in Auburn lore.
This team came from the very bottom to scale to the pinnacle of College football’s greatest heights. I suspect that much like the 1983 team which narrowly missed winning a national championship, this bunch has laid a foundation that will produce dividends for years to come. When the Tigers win future championships (and they will) it will be in large part due to the bar set by the 2013 Auburn Tigers.
Auburn is a football rich tradition school. In fact the Tigers are the13th winn-ingest program in Division 1 history (ninth in the past 50 years), the winner of two national championships and 12 Conference Championships (eight SEC). They’ve won more SEC Championships (3) in the last decade than any other school, and had 14 undefeated seasons including three in the last 20 years – again more than any other SEC school.
So there will be other great Auburn teams. History proves that, but …
There will never be another team like the 2013 Tigers.
Tags: 2013 Auburn Tigers, 2013 BCS National Champioship, AubTigerman, Auburn blogs, Auburn Football, Chris Davis, Gus Malzahn, Jimmy Sidle, pat dye, ricardo louis, sec blogs, Track 'em Tigers, Tre Mason, Tucker Frederickson