It has been said time and time again “Auburn is not just a place it is a feeling.” This realization came to me on Saturday, January 22, 2010.
Nothing prepared me for the feelings I would experience as the Auburn family gathered together to celebrate their first national championship win in 53 years. The “die-hard” Auburn fans and I began actually celebrating three hours prior to the scheduled event. As I entered the stadium the excitement overwhelmed me. I was going to be able to go onto the field. I hurried. It was cold that day and I was completely unaware of the temperature. A replay of the national championship game was on the jumbotron. I stood overflowing with excitement as I watched. It was amazing to hear the “oohs” and “ahs” among the crowd. We were so caught up in watching the replay of the game that we forgot about the upcoming presentation.
As the game came to a close on the jumbotron, I looked around at the swarms of people piling into the stadium, grabbing a seat for this historical event. Being on the field gave me a great perspective, the perspective of the player. It is hard to not love this institution and its traditions when you have 70,000+ fans surrounding you singing the fight song in unison. Thinking about it now gives me goose bumps. The attention to details in planning was extremely impressive. As I glanced at the scoreboard to see “Auburn 22—Oregon 19,” the time thoughtfully stopped on “20:10.”
Watching the game on the jumbotron was amazing but nothing prepared me for the rest of the ceremony. One-by-one the players and coaching staff were called onto the field. They ran down the row high-fiving the students. The crowd went crazy when quarterback Cam Newton and “Big Nasty” Nick Fairley ran onto the field, eating up the love they were receiving from the Auburn family. After a few introductory speeches from important Auburn men, including 1957 National Championship quarterback, Lloyd Nix, the trophies were handed out to Cam Newton, Nick Fairley, Coach Malzahn, Coach Roof, Coach Taylor, and Coach Chizik. Newton, Fairley and Coach Chizik addressed the crowd as they were accepting their awards. Newton said that he “believes in Auburn and loves it,” while Coach Chizik stated without a doubt “we have the best fans in the nation!”
I will always remember how brightly the sun shined on the Waterford Crystal football trophy. It practically blinded anyone that dared to look at it. My most memorable moment of the ceremony was the highlight reel at the end. It was a reminder of how great my senior year has been, how great Auburn was, and how great Auburn will continue to be.
As I reflected on the team’s fight through a tumultuous season I began to cry. I cried not for the football season but for the feeling Auburn gives me, the feeling of family and home, and realizing that soon this would all be just a fond memory. Nothing compares to how I felt on the field that day, I am sure nothing ever will… “and because Auburn men and women believe these things, I believe in Auburn and love it.”