Josh Dowdy's original piece is located HERE.
Phillip Marshall from AuburnUndercover has said it perfectly to me for years: often times Auburn's own worst enemy is Auburn. Those aren't his exact words, but that's the general statement he's made. When he said this, he meant the tendency for Auburn fans to always jump to negative conclusions, beliefs of being attacked by the media, doubts about their own program, etc.
Have their been times Auburn has been attacked in the media with baseless accusations? Absolutely. We also have more NCAA violations than most schools, so it comes with the territory. Never mind that our last violation was 20 years ago. Never mind that many of those violations were minor and would be laughed at today. I can't find the article Marshall wrote a few years back with the details, but once I finally read them I was amazed at what was considered a "major" violation that resulted in most of our probations. The general belief among many in college football is that Auburn cheats. At this point all I do is roll with it and let results of any investigations speak for themselves. If Auburn is doing something wrong and gets caught, then let's punish those involved, clean house of them, and start over. I want Auburn to do things the right way.
So does this translate into any bias? Well... I don't really think that it does. In the "modern era" of Auburn football (from Pat Dye to now), Auburn has been left hanging in 1983 and 2004, as Josh pointed out.
In 1983 I was not exactly aware of football. I wasn't really aware of anything, since I was only a year and a half old during that football season. That being said, looking back on things I don't see Miami jumping Auburn for the championship as evidence of any "bias" against Auburn. Auburn struggled to beat their opponent in the bowl game. Miami beat the #1 team in the nation. Auburn was still just on the rise from the doldrums of the Barfield days. If there's any "bias" inherent in this, it's that against teams who were not the big thing at the time or had been for a while. That "bias" still exists today, but it's not specific to Auburn. Miami was in a similar position in 1983. They just happened to beat the #1 "unbeatable" team while we struggled with the #8 team in the Sugar Bowl. Voters may have genuinely felt that made them deserving to be #1 themselves. Do I think they were right? No, not really. Looking back on the schedule Auburn played that year, it's hard to argue it's not one of the toughest in college football history. That's not to take away from Miami and what they did that year. I just believe Auburn was the better team looking through the eyes of history.
A look at 2004 has to begin with 2003. Auburn was expected to be one of the best teams in college football in 2003. Instead they struggled all season long to run Bobby Petrino's offense without Bobby Petrino. Tommy Tuberville was almost fired. We had a new offensive coordinator to start the 2004 season. No one expected Auburn to do what they did. And everyone expected USC and Oklahoma to be the best. They started #1 and #2, after all. Oklahoma opened that season against Bowling Green. A team that Auburn had scheduled but the game was bought out in order for them to play Oklahoma. This left Auburn scrambling to find an opponent. They found The Citadel. Remember all the gnashing of teeth about us scheduling them? Well, they weren't the first choice.
Regardless of what happened, Auburn started the season ranked in the middle of the top twenty-five, while the two teams that would ultimately play in the BCSCG started #1 and #2. When they never lost throughout the season, it was hard for anyone to bump them. A case against pre-season polls? Sure. I'll buy that. A case proving bias against Auburn specifically? I don't believe so. Utah finished undefeated that year, as well. The rules against BCS busters were a bit different back then, but they still had cause for outrage, as well. Unfortunately, we'll never know just how good that 2004 team was against either Oklahoma or USC. But that's due to the system that was in place, not because of a bias against Auburn. It was the 2004 season that ultimately led to the AP deciding it did not want to be a part of the BCS formula going forward, after all.
Personally, I believe this past season shows there isn't a real bias against Auburn. There were other one loss teams in college football. Auburn benefited from the unreal games played, the stats of the offense, and the prowess of the SEC in recent seasons. This led to Auburn being chosen for the championship game. If you believe a bias against Auburn exists, then it seems hard to justify how a team that finished 3-9 the previous season became the best 1-loss team in the nation by year's end as judged by those who vote in the polls.
I may be in the minority, here. So let's find out what the readers of College and Magnolia feel. Vote in the poll below. It will be similar to Josh's poll, but we'll be able to see all results on this one and hopefully get a wider range of answers. Though it's only one question and you can only choose one answer, so think about it hard before choosing. Feel free to discuss below. This is liable to become a heated topic, so please keep it civil.