College football fans across the country were allowed to vote on their choice as the national champion. Auburn emerged No. 1 ahead of the two other undefeated teams following the bowl games--No. 2 Southern Cal and No. 3 Utah.
ESPN television and radio football analyst Jim Donnan is expected to make the national championship trophy presentation on the Auburn campus in January after announcing it on Thursday evening on a television show on the CSS network.
George Brown of Opelika, Ala., who came up with the concept for The Peoples National Championship poll, says he is pleased with the results in the first year. “It went well,” he said. “We had so many more people vote than we expected. We had well over 1.5 million hits. We had a lot of people voting after the Orange Bowl.”
Auburn wrapped up its season undefeated with a victory in the Sugar Bowl over ACC champion Virginia Tech. Southern Cal defeated Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. Utah defeated Pittsburgh of the Big East in the Fiesta Bowl.
Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville (right) and his Tigers won the Sugar Bowl Trophy earlier this week over Coach Frank Beamer (left) and his Virginia Tech Hokies.
“We have a whole new system lined up next year,” Brown says. “We are going to have a selection committee made up of fans with one representative from each of the 117 Division I football programs.
“There is going to be more than just a national champion selected,” Brown notes. “We will have a top offensive player of the year, top defensive player of the year, plays of the week, a play of the year and other honors,” Brown says. “We will have around 10 different awards.”
Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said he is excited that the Tigers were voted number one.
“It is good that some people recognize what kind of football team we had this year,” Tuberville says. “It was a great season. Obviously, we got left out of the championship game, but I am sure there are a lot of people who recognize that we probably should have been in that championship game after it was played.
“Who knows, I think we have the best team in the country,” Tuberville says. “This peoples polls will give us an opportunity say we were national champs. It means a lot to us and we look forward to having a trophy and putting our name on a ring saying we are 2004 national champs.”
Auburn’s head coach says that he was pleased how his team played from opening day through the victory in New Orleans at the Sugar Bowl. “We were probably the most balanced team in the country,” he says. “Only one game we played this year was in doubt. That was the LSU game early in the season.”
The concept has gone so well that there are already discussions under way for possibly doing a Peoples National Championship nationally televised awards show next year.
Brown, who set up the poll in December, says, “We were really surprised to see how many people were willing to join up the cause to get the fans involved.”
Peoples National Championship Poll