The BCS National Championship was the last time I’ll watch the Tigers play as a student. While I will always be an alumnus of Auburn University after May 2014, I will never again be a student. There is a vast and loving community of alumni, of course, but the transition from student to alumni is something that I’m not sure I’m ready for.
I did not make it to Pasadena. I won a ticket in the student lottery a few days before the game, but the money required to get to California — nearly $2,000 after all expenses — was simply too much. So instead, I stayed in Auburn, watching the game with 12 other rabid Auburn fans, cheering our favorite team on and laughing every time Jameis Winston was sacked.
Near the end of the fourth quarter, when Tre Mason went 37 yards for a touchdown with 1:19 left to give Auburn the lead, we went berserk. While we thought our miracle came a little early compared to Georgia and Alabama, we were ecstatic. One friend actually left and went to Toomer’s Corner, braving the freezing temperatures, determined to be the first to let toilet paper fly and roll the forlorn mounds of earth where the great trees once stood.
We watched, stunned, as our third miracle was deferred by FSU as they marched down the field for the game-winning touchdown. One girl literally wailed in sadness.
The game was over. Our miraculous season went up in flames, or was perhaps covered by ashes. FSU celebrated their victory as Auburn fans sat dumbfounded, or fled the stadium to cope with their sorrow any way they could.
It was a great game, FSU played well and in the end the Heisman winner won out.
But we are Auburn. We will rise from the ashes of a botched BCS victory and come back stronger next season.
And you know what? I wasn’t sad about our loss. Well, that’s not entirely true. I was devastated, but I was proud of the football team, Malzahn, Marshall, Mason, and proud to be an Auburn Tiger.
Though 2,100 miles separated me from the football team and the majority of the Auburn Family, I knew it didn’t matter. No distance is too great for a “War Eagle” to resonate or be heard. And we cried “War Eagle” after the loss. The 11 who remained, despite our sadness, gave our team one last hurrah the only way we knew how. It didn’t feel silly, and maybe only an Auburn student, alumni or fan understands why.
In the end, I believe in Auburn, and love it.
Photos by Zach Bland / The Auburn Plainsman