Monday night, I stood in The University of Phoenix Stadium and watched the Auburn Tigers storm the field as the confetti rocketed into the air. I watched as old men wept, women cried, and young people jumped around and shouted with joy at Auburn’s 22-19 victory over the Oregon Ducks; to clinch the National Championship.
No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was so loud, the two blended together.
Why were the old guys crying? They were crying because the ghost of things passed were finally exorcised and released in those few brief moments of irrepressible celebration.
Life is filled with disappointments, unfulfilled expectations, and dreams that are never realized. Windows of opportunity are missed and doors to dreams are slammed shut.
The old men remembered the missed opportunities; like when Shug’s undefeated 1958 team was kept out of the national championship picture along with a possible repeat championship.
They remembered the ‘ 63 team of Jimmy Sidle and Tucker Frederickson narrowly missing a chance at another championship when a last second field goal in Starkville robbed them of a victory.
They remembered the Pat Dye teams of the eighties coming oh so close.
The 1983 squad was ranked third in the nation and the top two teams lost on New Year’s Day. Most assumed Auburn would be the champion of all of college football only to wake up the next morning to find the Tigers still ranked No. 3 in the polls.
They remembered 1988 when one point kept Auburn from playing Notre Dame for all the marbles.
They remembered 1993 when Terry’s Tigers were undefeated.
They remembered 2004 when Tuberville’s 13-0 team had the number one backfield in college football and were left out of the championship game.
So when the old men witnessed a dream unfold before their eyes, one they had wondered if they would ever see in their lifetime … a number were crying with joy.
I know that was the reason for their crying because - I was one of the old men that was crying. Auburn, my Auburn was finally National Champions again. And it happened in my life time.
No matter what happens in the 2011 season or in future seasons, Chizik’s Tigers have taken me to the mountain top; and when my time comes I can die a happy man. War Eagle!