Win or lose the BCS National Championship, Auburn can already claim victory on one front - publicity. It's impossible to turn on any of the ESPN channels for more than five minutes without hearing Auburn's name mentioned. The publicity Auburn is gaining from its appearance in the championship game has to be valued in the tens of millions of dollars.
It will be interesting to see what impact the success of the football program has on other parts of the university. I remember reading a story on Georgia Tech following its national title in 1990. The school saw student applications skyrocket in the year after it was crowned champion.
I can only imagine the impact Auburn will see in the age of wall-to-wall television coverage and the BCS. I wonder if this year's success will expedite Auburn's plans to add seats at Jordan-Hare Stadium...
For all the talk about position matchups between Auburn and Oregon, the game will likely come down to preparation. Auburn returned to practice Saturday for the first time in two weeks. Oregon started back a week earlier.
Quarterback Cam Newton said he could tell a difference. "I felt rusty," he said. "Everybody did. We looked like we didn't play football in two weeks, but that's normal. We need to have a better practice tomorrow."
How both teams handle the distractions of post-season award banquets, Christmas and travel logistics will go a long way in determining the winner on the second Monday in January.
Auburn is dealing with more outside distractions than Oregon. In addition to Cam Newton's appearances in Orlando and his three-day Heisman media run in New York, Auburn coach Gene Chizik and offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn have also been busy flying around the country accepting awards.
Throw in Malzahn's time consuming negotiations with Vanderbilt and Auburn officials about a contract extension, and you easily see why both players and coaches are glad to be back on the practice field.
The team is scheduled to leave Auburn on January 3rd and spend an entire week in Glendale. This will help in adjusting to the time change. You have to believe Chizik has the advantage in preparation over Oregon's Chip Kelly because he's been in this environment once before.
Chizik served as defensive coordinator on Mack Brown's staff in 2005 when the Longhorns defeated USC in Pasadena. You can bet he's taken a look back at what worked for them...
We knew it was coming, but it was still sad to hear that safety Aairon Savage's career is over. After breaking a bone in his ankle during the Arkansas contest, Savage underwent surgery and set the Iron Bowl as his target date to return. It was not meant to be. Chizik confirmed over the weekend that the sixth-year senior's playing days are done.
"It doesn't look like that's going to be a possibility right now," Chizik said. "Aairon's really doing a great job being around on our team as a leader and really almost taking on a coaching role for us."
He plans to pursue coaching after Auburn. We wish him the best...
Besides resuming practice over the weekend, Auburn hosted one of its most critical recruiting weekends. Coaches welcomed a total of 11 official and two unofficial visitors to campus Friday night.
The two unofficial visitors were four-star Auburn commitment Kiehl Frazier of Shiloh Christian in Springdale, Ark, and junior quarterback KeDarius Humphries from Sidney Lanier in Montgomery.
The highly regarded group included three running backs headlined by four-star back Savon Huggins from Jersey City, NJ. Also in attendance was four-star back Jeremy Hill from Baton Rouge, La, and Marlin Lane from Daytona Beach, Fla.
Another big Auburn target, five-star offensive tackle Christian Westerman traveled in from Chandler, Arizona. It was a good time to visit; the recruits were guests at Friday's awards banquet and then visited practice the following day...
Finally, I want to wish each of you a very Merry Christmas. I hope the season brings you all you have asked for and more. War Eagle and God Bless!