I know this is a special time for the Auburn Family, that is for sure. There must have been 50,000 Auburn fans there in Arizona for the championship game. I know I have never witnessed anything like that in my life.
All year long this team has been a joy to watch. It has been fun to watch it develop and see all of the big plays and some of the almost miraculous things it did to win 14 games while coming from behind in nine of those victories. To end up as the national champion based on where the Tigers started in the polls is phenomenal.
I have so much love for Auburn University where I was fortunate enough to coach and fortunate enough to have all my of my four children graduate, which is one of the highlights of my life. It means a lot to me to see so many Auburn people of different generations so happy about what this year's team has accomplished. I couldn't be more pleased about what happened even if I was still coaching the football team.
I have to give a lot of credit to Gene Chizik and his staff for the job they did coaching this group and the players for going "all in" and making the commitment to be special this season. When something as great as winning a national championship happens it's not about any one person or any one group. There are so many people involved in making it happen, which I think Coach Chizik has done a great job of explaining, but there is no doubt he has been a huge part of it.
Gene Chizik addresses the crowd at the BCS Championship Game.
If any college is deserving of the honor of playing in and winning the BCS National Championship Game, it is Auburn. I base that on the things that happened at Auburn when I was coaching and things that happened with Auburn teams after I finished coaching. I think that explains why there is so much satisfaction from everybody in the Auburn Family over winning this national championship. It has been a magical run for this team from the start to the finish of the season.
In the championship game the Tigers showed a lot of courage and toughness, traits they have displayed all season, and that was enough to beat Oregon even though I don't think the Tigers played as well as they can play. If the Tigers performed like they did in the SEC Championship Game, the BCS Championship Game wouldn't have been close because Auburn was a significantly better team than Oregon. Throughout the season the Tigers came up with big plays in key situations by a variety of players to allow the team to get to Glendale with a chance to play for the national title. When you think back about the season as a whole, it is amazing how many great plays and great moments there have been. Some of the ones that stand out to me are the long touchdown by Onterio McCalebb vs. LSU, the caused fumbles in the Alabama game by Antoine Carter and Nick Fairley, the play of freshman running Michael Dyer in the Oregon game as well as the many big plays that Cam (Cameron Newton) and the wide receivers made all season long. There were so many special moments for the 2010 team it is going to take a while for it to all sink in.
From the first day I arrived at Auburn as head coach, I dreamed that this would happen and it is hard to describe the feeling I have now that this team has climbed to the top of the college football world. This is where Auburn football was in the 1950s when I played against the Tigers, who were as highly regarded as any team in the country. I am just glad that I lived long enough to see and feel this championship season. It is something that I hope all of the Auburn people thoroughly enjoy, especially the long-time fans who were loyal when times weren't as good. I know there are thousands of those people and I am so happy of them. They deserve to enjoy it.
(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.com.)
Editor's Note: This part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for AUTigers.com about the game he played and coached. An All-American at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn who was also head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming, Dye participates in the Legends Poll, a Top 25 rating of the best teams in college football as determined by a panel of all-star former head coaches. Dye writes three columns a week--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.