Give ESPN credit. They know how to promote a championship football game. I remember thinking last season's coverage of the Alabama-Texas contest was over the top. It was nothing compared to this year.
When the Disney infused network wrestled the BCS rights away from Fox Network, they made a conscious decision to cover the championship game like a Super Bowl. You literally cannot tune in to any of the numerous Disney media properties (television, radio, internet) without hearing something about Auburn or Oregon.
I hope someone will put a price tag on all the coverage both programs have received. It's safe to say there's never been a football game more promoted and hyped than Monday night's championship game.
While certainly not on the scale of a Super Bowl, the media crush that has invaded Phoenix this week is astounding. Watching some coverage today, you could sense the media outlets beginning to run out of storylines. A 37-day wait will do that to you...
Similar to what we saw during the SEC Championship game with South Carolina, the national media seems to be moving away from Auburn and leaning toward an Oregon victory Monday.
There's no doubt this will be the most unique test yet for Gene Chizik's bunch. But spend 15 minutes listening to the talking heads and you start wondering whether the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense could stay on the field with Oregon.
Looking for any angle to give Oregon the edge, we've heard this week that the Ducks have the advantage because they played in the Rose Bowl last year and are used to the big game atmosphere.
ESPN radio host Colin Cowherd made the point that Oregon plays games in Arizona and is familiar with the surroundings. He pointed out that Alabama was nervous during the first quarter against Texas at the Rose Bowl and hadnot been injured, the results could have been different.
What that has to do with Auburn is beyond me...
The name that has been least mentioned and may have the biggest impact on Monday night is Ted Roof. We've heard Oregon's Chip Kelly, Duck's defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti, Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and Chizik's name across the airwaves repeatedly throughout the week.
No one has mentioned Roof. The consensus is that Auburn's defensive secondary will struggle. They are not in good enough shape to keep up with the fast Oregon offense. It's all you hear. Meanwhile, Roof has remained quiet.
What few people know is that Roof is a tireless worker. Malzahn gets the ink, but Roof also keeps the midnight oil burning. He makes game day adjustments on the fly as good as anyone in the business. It would be foolish to underestimate his ability to get his players ready.
He knows what's at stake. My guess is that more than anything else, the Auburn defense will determine the outcome in the game...
Much has been made of the contrasting ways the two programs have gone about their preparation for the big game. The media has portrayed Oregon as businesslike and taking a buttoned down approach to game planning.
Auburn has been painted as a team that's enjoying every minute of the experience. Much was made about the team not having a curfew Tuesday night. More was made of the 400 plus passengers who made the trip on the chartered jet Monday and the fanfare that went along with the team's arrival.
Who has the best strategy? It's hard to say. But don't be fooled. Auburn has done its homework. The coaching staff is not letting the team go Bode Miller on us. Chizik has been adamant in how he prepares.
He's made the point more than once that the team must peak on Monday and not Friday. While Kelly has experience from last year's Rose Bowl, let's not forget that Chizik had his defense ready to go when Texas claimed the prize at the 2006 championship game.