In the opening to the movie Patton, the famed General addresses his troops before they go to war in the European theater. In the speech he talks about the spirit of the American fighting man and that "Americans LOVE a winner!! And will not tolerate a loser!!". Back then the Yankees were Americas team and they won Championships by the boat load. But as time has marched on, and the Yankees continue to win championshsips and spend as much as they need to win more, the attitude towards them has changed. No longer are the Yankees loved for being winners, they are reviled for their win at all costs attitude. And I don't understand that. I am a huge Braves fan and wish more than anything that the owners for the Braves cared about winning as much as the Steirbrenner's. I always hope that if the Braves can make it to the World Series that they play the Yankees, so that if they win, they can honestly say they beat the best. I want them to play them and face them down when it matters most, because that is the true measure of a champion.
In my second post for TET during the decline of the Tuberville administration in 2008, I opined at length that I was sick to death of Auburn having to be "the underdog" in order to win a big matchup. Tuberville made a great living because he had been able to beat a number of top 10 teams during his tenure, all the while losing crucial games when we were the favorite....usually at home. I opined that if you have to play the underdog roll to win....you are a loser. Winners find ways to win, they thrive in the pressure of a big game situation and will face down their opponent and let THEM find a way to lose. Being a winner takes more than talent, it takes confidence and attitude. Last year was the first time I got to enjoy that feeling as an Auburn fan....where I knew we were going to win, no matter what happened. My only lapse was when Auburn fell down 24-0 to Bama, and even then I felt that we still had a chance to comeback....I just wasn't certain we'd win. Once we opened the 2nd half with the long touchdown to Zachery, I knew we were going to win that game too.
Conversely, I didn't feel that way in 2004, even though an argument could be made that the 2004 team was much better and deeper than the 2010 team. But in 2004, we didn't have a killer instinct. We would get a lead and sit on it, as if Tuberville were afraid that blowing out a rival would reap retrebution in future games against them. We had the best offense and best defense in the SEC and yet Tuberville played conservative with a lead, fearing that a mistake or turnover would somehow turn the tide against arguably the best team in the country. As a result Auburn was never seen as the juggernaught that should have played USC for the BCS title. Our detractors merely pointed to games against the Citadel and La. Monroe to prove we were't worthy of playing the mighty Trojans. And to be honest, they were right. Because despite the undefeated swagger, there was doubt and fear that if we did get to the big game, we would lay an egg. Again.
Cam Newton changed all that. At least for me. Cam played to win and he expected to win. It was obvious to me, because when the pressure was at its highest, that was when Cam performed his best. When we trailed in a game and a play had to be made, Cam made it. And as the season went on, Cam accomplished his most amazing feat of all. Through his empassioned and spectacular play and leadership, he turned a good, but very flawed and thin team into a great team that was able to win on its own by the time they got to the BCS game. Cam had athletic arrogance...that elusive trait that an athelete shows to let everybody know he is the best player on the field. And like other great players, he made his teammates better. Cam got them to believe in themselves and to raise their game to another level. Without Cam does Nick Fairley turn into the unstoppable monster he became? Without Cam does Phillip Lutzenkirchen turn into a Hoover on legs? Without Cam does Michael Dyer turn into the MVP of the BCS game? We don't know these things for sure, but what we do know is that these players evolved through the season and became CRUCIAL cogs in our championship run. And yet despite the evidence to the contrary and the testimony of his teammates, before the NFL draft, Cam was branded as an ego maniac and that he wasn't a leader in the locker room or on the field. HUH??? Anybody can question what happened off the field, but there was no questioning what Cam meant ON the field. The guy was electric, both in his play and his command of the team. To say otherwise just shows ignorance of the game of football, or biased sentiment against what Cam was accomplishing. For me, Cam Newton did the almost impossible, he turned Auburn from an underdog to a favorite, a team to root against, a team to hate.......and man do people hate Cam Newton and Auburn now.
For Cam, its a little understandable, the media blitz to destroy him was unlike anything I have ever seen before. Despite there being no evidence and countless unsubstantiated accusations and outright hoaxes, like taped conversations of Cecil Newton, the media covered the Miss State attempt to derail Cam's career, like they did the royal wedding. It was oversaturation by the media to the nth degree, and yet despite all the attempts to pin something....anything...on Cam, Cecil or Auburn, here we sit.......9 full months later.....having been under the media microsope unlike any other football program...EVER..... with absolutely nothing having been proven. People hate Cam because of all the stuff they heard, not because of what was true. All that was ever proven, in all the coverage, was that he stole a computer when he was a freshman. Definitely, something to be embarassed about but hardly worth the public flogging he got on a daily basis. They called Cam and Auburn cheaters, even though absolutely nothing can be proven to justify that claim. Even the hatred of Cecil Newton is unfounded because nobody knows the extent of his participation in the Miss. St pay-for-play offer. All we know is Kenny Rogers, John Bond and Bill Bell, were enlisted to get Cam on campus in Starkville and that Cecil admitted to being part of it. Of course Miss St. says that Cecil initiated the scheme.....but for some reason that knowledge didn't cool them on their pursuit of Newton, as they continued to recruit him AFTER the alleged pay-for-play scheme came to light. Why is that? And why isn't that the focus of the media investigation? Why? Because Cam was going to win the Heisman and Auburn was in line to go to the BCS game. It was salacious and got ratings.....and people will believe anything if you say it enough. People STILL cling to the lies, the half truths, the conspiracies, THE HOPE, that someway .....SOMEHOW....Auburn will be stripped of everything that happened last year and they will be banished back to second tier status again.
All the smoke that people claimed was hanging over Auburn, just happened to be Gene Chizik cooking up a BBQ of success, the likes of which Auburn has never seen before.....and our rivals can't STAND IT!!! The hate and derision that they reserved for Cam....now that he has left...is being heaped upon Auburn fans. We are finally Champions in our most beloved sport and the rest of the football world won't graciously congratulate us and acknowledge what an accomplishment it was to overcome all the media bashing and hatred to continue to play at a high level and win it all with the rest of the country rooting against us. No, they would rather chide us and tell us we are delusional for believing that Cam and the program didn't break any rules. Its gotten so bad, that they now read malicious intent into things that Cecil says, like when he says "We" when referring to Cam's negotiations with Carolina, as if he is the puppet master and has been pulling the strings all along......not like a Dad, who would logically be emotionally invested in the success of his son. "Enjoy it while it lasts", they seethe,"you'll be giving it back just like USC." Ummm.....ok....Heres the problem with that rationale. There was actual physical, tangible evidence in the USC scandal. Just like at UNC, Oregon, and Ohio State. Reggie's family was living in the evidence for cripes sake!! Once the investigation began, it was a fete accompli that USC would get dinged. All that had to be determined was when Reggie became ineligible. So Cam's situation is nothing at all like Reggie's. When any evidence, that doesn't emanate from Starkville, comes out pointing to impropriety by Cam or Auburn it will be the first to surface in the "on-going" investigation.
But you know what I've learned? Most people don't love a winner anymore, they despise what the winner has accomplished as if they somehow didn't deserve it.....and you know what....thats sad. America used to be a place where accomplishment was lauded and winners were celebrated. Now they are examined and accused of wrongdoing.....for certainly they couldn't have succeeded without doing so at the expense of others!! Its a mindset of victimization that is unhealthy and frankly....defeatist. Look no further than our friends in Athens to see a great example of a fanbase that wants company in their misery. Despite haveing a multitude of top 10 recruiting classes, they can't forge together a winner in Athens and they can't deal with the fact that their longtime comiserators across the state line have surpassed them and won a championship, while they toil in underacheivement. How else to explain their irrational behavior since they blew a big lead on the way to getting blown out themselves?? Like a spoiled and petulant child they acted out and have been pouting about their treatment ever since. Disgraceful....but I relish their hatred because it means to me what I have wanted for so long...that Auburn is at the top.
WAR EAGLE ...and after all Haters....Tomorrow is another day!!