Written by Cole Locascio
The title says it all, or rather, all that needs to be said. I could reiterate what I've written each week about the fight, courage, and strength this team has shown, but what's the point? For the first time in my life, college football has left me without answers. I have doubted this team all year, starting with the Mississippi State game. Correction: I doubted this team when Gus Malzahn’s hire was announced last December.
Honesty time – I was in the Petrino boat. I could find a way past the “scumbag” qualities he’s brought upon multiple organizations and programs if it meant numerous victories each season. I was desperate last season – desperate for change. I was looking for something different at Auburn, even when the answer to all of our problems was staring right back at me all along. The obvious hire, the “safe” hire – Gus Malzahn. I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t disappointed with the Malzahn hire. At the time, the hire didn’t seem “bold”, which I felt was needed at Auburn. Gus had coached at Auburn before, he was familiar with the personnel, and heck, he even recruited the same guys on the current roster. What I didn’t realize was that my understanding of a “bold hire” was completely misconstrued. The search committee, which consisted of Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan, and Mac Crawford, was thinking extremely outside the realm of “safe”. Think about it for a second – that team across the state is having an abundant amount of success using a pro-style, conservative approach on offense. So what does Auburn do? The exact opposite. It doesn't get much bolder than that.
Jay Jacobs needed immediate rebound – not only for the Auburn fans, but also for the sake of his job. The amount of heat surrounding the athletic department, whether it was justified or not, was difficult to ignore, so Jay went out and found the perfect fit to turn this program back in the right direction. Like Gus said in his initial press conference back in December, “My goal is to play championship level football, like Auburn expects.” Sure, that’s a nice thing to say when you’re brought into a program, but very few people will actually be able to execute it. Scratch that, nobody – nobody has generated the amount of success and turn-around from one season to the next than Gus Malzahn this season.
Auburn’s had some help this year. “Luck”, if that’s the word you want to use, but what championship team hasn’t had their share of lucky breaks? It’s all part of the game. The miracle catch, Chris Davis’ return, the dominating rushing performance against Missouri – all coming together to create one magical season on the Plains. This Auburn team tops the 2004 team, as well as the 2010 team, at least in my mind. They may not be as talented as those past squads, but they sure do have as much, if not more fight in them. I’ve learned to stop doubting this team, because I know the second I do, Gus Malzahn will make me a believer once again.
It’s been a fun ride this season, so don’t ever forget it. Who knows when Auburn’s magic will run out, so let’s be sure to soak up every minute of it while we can.