I’m supposed to be studying for an exam right now. It’s about Water Law.
I should have been studying for something for the last four weeks. Longer than that, really. What have I been doing instead? Probably the same thing many of you have been doing: reading and watching anything I can find about the Auburn Tigers. If you pass me in the law school at any given time, there’s still about a 30 percent chance I’m watching the Kick Six. There's a point where you can hear the crowd in Jordan-Hare realize Chris Davis is going to score, and it gets me every time.
OK, fine. You twisted my arm. Let's watch it again.
There’s just so much to see. So much to read. So much to remember. So much to enjoy**. I want to read every article and watch every interview. I want to see the plays again to make sure they really happened. I don't want it to end. This season has gone from special to extraordinary in the past month, and I’m terrified to miss something.
Without a doubt, every non-Auburn person is sick of hearing that Auburn went 3-9 last year. You may be sick of hearing that Auburn went 3-9 last year, but it’s impossible to divorce last year’s record from this year’s narrative. Auburn had three wins and nine losses in 2012.
That team, with the addition of a damn fine coach and a truly gifted athlete at quarterback, went from losing every conference game to winning the toughest conference in the country. That team, full of kids people had given up on, went from 3-9 to the BCS National Championship Game, or as Gus would say, "from the outhouse to the penthouse."
Last year, we were exasperated. Beaten down. Numb. But they say the night is always darkest just before the dawn, right?
I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t immediately sold on the Gus Malzahn hire. I thought it was safe, and I wanted aggressive. I thought Auburn needed a proven head coach*** and Gus just hadn’t had enough time to prove himself. Then I saw video of him getting off the plane.
He looked happy, genuinely happy. Like he was home. And there was a spark.
At his introductory press conference, Gus told us it was a new day. They took the trees down at Toomer’s with chainsaws, and David Housel told us Auburn would rise again, that it would fight again. After wishing for the end of the 2012 season, we finally had something to look forward to, even if we looked forward with managed expectations.
The 2013 season has been kind of a slow burn. What began as a spark in the dead of winter gave us a little smoke in the spring. By the fall, it caught fire. Somewhere between Texas A&M and the Immaculate Deflection, it became big enough to notice. During the Iron Bowl, Auburn set the state ablaze. As Auburn’s offense became an unstoppable force against Mizzou****, it engulfed the Southeast. While no one was paying attention, the Auburn Tigers quietly became an inferno. And there’s nothing as hot as a slow burning fire.
Auburn has needed some luck along the way, but what team hasn't? Almost any successful season involves at least a little bit of luck. Those calling Auburn's success the singular product of luck are either ill-informed about this team or lying to themselves. The Immaculate Deflection was luck. No argument here. Ohio State picking the perfect time to lose was pretty fortunate. I'll admit that one, too. (Man, other teams losing and propelling the teams ranked below them into the national championship game is like, unheard of. How much luck would it take for that to happen two years in a row?)The Kick Six was flawless execution of a damn good coaching decision, and I will not concede that point. The rest of this season has been proudly brought to you by work, hard work.
So here we are, on the precipice. The only thing standing between Auburn and its date with destiny***** is the undisputed juggernaut of 2013. FSU has decimated everyone it's faced, and it has made it look easy. Bringing home the Coaches' Trophy will certainly be a tall order: The Seminoles are led by the presumptive and deserving Heisman winner******. Their defense is talented and fast, and they have offensive weapons beyond Winston. This game is going to be one hell of a fight, and for uninterested third parties, it should be a lot of fun to watch. Personally, I’ll be sick the entire time. You know, because Auburn Football has made me feel feelings again. However, those are worries for another day.
For now, I’m going to enjoy the fire. Auburn has come a long way since Gus stepped off that plane last December. In fewer than 30 days, they have a chance to return to the mountaintop. I will never forget this team and what it has meant to Auburn. Ever to conquer, never to yield.
At the Last Roll, David Housel said it first and he said it best:
The future is Auburn’s. Let’s go get it. Let’s go take it, let’s prevail and bring it here to Toomer’s Corner.
Okay, we'll watch that one, too.
Until next time — Happy Holidays and War Eagle!
ALL THE FOOTNOTES:
*Until Runadena. Until then, I do want to thank y'all for sharing a little corner of the Internet with me. I can't produce nearly the quality of content you deserve, but I've loved spending this season with you and I can't wait to do it again.
**Enjoy isn’t a strong enough word. This season is something Tiger fans should revel in, because seasons like this are magical. And I mean that most sincerely. I remain 75 percent unconvinced Gus Malzahn isn’t a wizard.
***For the record, I was absolutely not in the Petrino camp. That man is a vile serpent, and the thought him anywhere near the Plains makes my stomach churn.
****I resisted the "destiny" stuff for as long as I could. Kind of like "All I Do is Win" as the intro song in 2010. You’re just setting yourself up for heartbreak. But somewhere around the 2010 LSU game and OSU failing on fourth-and-10 in 2013, I gave in. Hell, maybe it is destiny. We can scream about #workhardwork until we’re blue in the face, but there will still be people who are convinced Auburn is where it is solely because of luck. Just let them think it. We know this team was forged by fire.
*****Welcome to the SEC, Missouri. You’re talented, and you’re fun to watch. Your fans are nice, and even though we all know you belong in the West geographically, I don’t super mind Auburn not having to play you every year. Keep beating Georgia and we’ll be bros for a long time.
******My child is going to New York! Famous Jameis will undoubtedly take home the statue, but it’s going to be rather heartmist-y seeing Tre sitting on the stage. Even through the lowest of lows, he always loved Auburn, and Auburn will always love Tre. He deserves this like Chris Davis deserved the Kick Six and Dee Ford deserved the sacks (plural) on Johnny Football. What an incredible season. It’s great to be an Auburn Tiger.