After the long wait, the championship game we all malign (due to the lack of a playoff series) came off last night, as exciting as it could possibly be. I had once vowed to root for Oregon as soon as the Ducks took the field in a uniform that was not from the dark side of the moon. They did that Tuesday night... the chartreuse yellow socks, etal, were jarring, but the team looked great. Unfortunately, they were playing Auburn and I know that the force of Bob's whole family was behind the Tigers. My college roommate is also a Dean there. So, Auburn it was, as two, fine previously undefeated teams took the field. I can't write as well as local sportswriter John Romano, so here's his take:
AFTER A LONG WAIT, YEAR OF THE TIGER
For the Auburn players, there is joy.
They are the ones who sweated in the summer, battled in the fall and emerged victorious in the end.
For the Auburn decisionmakers, there is relief.
They are the ones who gambled on an unproven head coach and stood by a renegade quarterback.
And for the Auburn fan?
This morning, there is salvation. Or vindication. Or restitution. Or whatever you want to call what happens when you devote every fiber of your soul to a football program that goes 53 years between national championships. For Auburn, the wait is over! Barely, but it's over.
On the final play of the 2010 season, Wes Byrum kicked a 19 yard field goal to beat Oregon 22-19 in the BCS Championship game on Monday night. This is Auburn's 3rd unbeaten season in 17 years, and the first time in those 17 that they won the ultimate prize.
The defense, ranked 54th in the nation was better than expected in stopping Oregon's potent offense, and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton was as good as advertised; although the hero of the game turned out to be freshman running back Michael Dyer. Newton had a dreadful first quarter, but once the Ducks took at 3-0 lead, Newton came alive. The final drive after Oregon had tied the game in the last three minutes will forever be a part of Tiger lore.
For until now, the Tigers have been the Red Sox with a drawl. The New York Rangers on the plains. They have been a grand program with a grand history and a giant hole in their resume when it comes to titles. They have had national titles in sight, in their hands and in their hearts, but never put another one down on paper.
All that changed last night. Congratulations, Tigers!!