"The excitement of the day and the electricity in the stadium was hard to describe. It was absolutely out of this world. It was one of the best experiences of my life." Those words were spoken by Auburn student Meighan Julbert as she was describing what it was like to be at Auburn's National Championship celebration.
I have to agree with Meighan. Saturday was one of those times that I wished the entire Auburn family could have been there. It is now on my list as one of my all time greatest experiences at Jordan-Hare. What a day. It was just like the season ... it far exceeded my expectations.
I believe Track Em Tigers member CKTCooper gave the best discription I have read of the events and the emotions that flooded the souls of the faithful on that day. The pre celebration showing of the Tigers win over the Oregon Ducks on the jumbotron, a montage of great plays from the 14 - 0 season, the crowd cheering and the band playing, definitely provided a big game day festive atmosphere.
However, it was the speakers that addressed the crowd and brought the house down; so I have provided the following as just a small sampling.
Gene Chizik: "This has been about a journey. This is about family. This is about the students, the players, the alumni, the people who didn't go to school here. It is the whole gamut. It is awesome to see everyone show up to celebrate the championship."
"You have helped us and been a huge part of the best football team in the United States of America" ... "I will say it again, It's not kinda ... sorta ... almost. You are the best fans in the United States of America!"
David Housel former Athletic Director: Housel told the team, "All our lives we tell our children and grandchildren ... never, never, never, never give up ... Fifty-seven days ago, at a place called Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, near the banks of the great Warrior River, you reaffirmed that life lesson and emphasized it for years to come. Never, never, never give up." Housel went on to say, "All of us want to be part of something bigger than we are. And for those of us here today, that something is Auburn."
Jay Jacobs, Auburn AD: "In 1981, Coach Pat Dye came to Auburn and he taught the Auburn Family a spirit that is not afraid. He led Auburn to four SEC Championships and laid a foundation for this day."
"We want to remember all the former players that have come before. We couldn't be here today without our former players. We're standing on the shoulders of three undefeated teams (1957, 1993 and 2004)."
Dr Jay Gogue, President: "At every one of this season's games, there were two great teams on the field - the Auburn offense and the Auburn defense."
Lloyd Nix, Quarterback of the 1957 Championship team: "Our team had some of the same qualities (as this year's team). You are dedicated, you work hard, you are determined, you believe in the coaches and you believe in each other. And with a crowd like this, you have to believe in Auburn fans."
"Remember you represent more than a football team. When you put that championship ring on, just remember what it means. Wear it with pride, wear it with class, and believe in Auburn."
Cam Newton: "People have asked me over and over, how did I handle the distractions. The simple answer is, God, family and you, my Auburn family. You never lost faith in me and that means more to me than words can ever say. You will be in my heart forever."
Kodi Burns: "The Auburn fans are the best in the country. It just makes you feel honored and special to be a part of the family ... and then to have this last reception like this, words can't describe it. It's something I'm going to remember for the rest of my life because its people that became a part of me."
Lee Ziemba: "I have been here through bad seasons and good season alike and the Auburn Family just doesn't change through any of it. All these trophies and rings will fade away. But when I have gray hair and I have one foot in the grave, I'm not going to remember this championship. What I am going to remember is the warmness and the kindness of the Auburn people and what ‘this Family' means to me."
Only Auburn people can understand what these Tigers meant when they spoke of family. In fact, that was what Saturday's celebration was all about - a celebration of family.
Track Em Tigers Editor Jay Coulter said it best Monday in his column when he wrote it was "A Day to Remember." It certainly was that. And like Auburn student Meighan Julbert, I will for ever remember this day in Jordan-Hare.