Written by Cole Locscio
Stunned, distraught, heartbroken.
Sitting in the Rose Bowl with confetti flying in the air, fireworks blasting in the sky, fans screaming to their heart's content -- but it was the wrong side, wrong team, wrong everything.
I could feel the tears pouring down my face as it sank into the deep abyss of my palms. I crashed onto the cold metal bench after witnessing Auburn's final attempt at a miraculous feat come to a crashing halt. I wanted this one -- badly. But not for my own selfish reasons, instead for our players. The guys who put everything on the line to provide us, the fans, with a reason to show up, and a reason to believe.
It would've been awfully nice to have hoisted the crystal ball on Monday night, but don't think for a second that this Auburn Tiger team will follow in the footsteps of the "forgotten" teams of years past -- teams that weren't able to make the cut. Let's go back to last year (I know, it hurts, but bear with me on this one). Quitters, incompetent, mind-numbingly awful. All fit the description of the 2012 Auburn team. Towards the end of the season, my heart became detached from Auburn football for the first time in my life. Why should I put my heart and soul into a team that simply gave up when faced with adversity? Coming into the 2013 season, with a new coach at the helm, Auburn continued to be forgotten, doubted, and thrown to the wayside in the eyes of the media. Hell, I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't preparing myself for complete and utter disappointment from Gus Malzahn's squad. But Auburn didn't care -- they were focused on only one goal throughout the season... Pasadena.
These boys, individually, may not be the most talented at their respective positions, but together as one, the sky's the limit.
Tre Mason, along with Dee Ford and Carl Lawson, felt obligated to apologize to the Auburn family. Get out of here with that, guys. If anyone's doing the apologizing, it should be me. I didn't think you could do it, even after you showed the most fight I've ever seen from an Auburn team in the second-half at LSU, after you traveled to College Station and beat college football's best quarterback on his home-turf, and after you miraculously found a way to win against Georgia. Each week, I predicted loss after loss. But that's not because I'm a pessimist -- far from it in fact. I don't know, I guess I was sheltering myself from more heartbreak -- I already get enough of that from other branches of my life. What took time for me to realize was the fact that while the roster may be extremely similar on paper, this is far from last year's team on the field. Think about it: Aside from Nick Marshall, this is the same team that caused so much grief, suffering, and pure embarrassment for Auburn fans last season. It's remarkable that they could turn things around to become bowl eligible, let alone coming up just three points short of winning the whole damn thing.
I know, it hurts like hell now -- trust me, I get it. A win would have made the perfect storybook ending to a fairytale kind of season. Seriously, they make movies about this stuff! Now, everyone take a deep breath. Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to cherish this season, hold it closely to your heart… forever. The 2013 Auburn Tigers have already gone down in history as the greatest turnaround in college football history, and in my mind… the toughest team to ever dress in orange and blue. The media, scratch that, everyone pushed this team down. But did they ever give up, did they ever stop fighting, did they ever listen to what anyone had to say? Never.
No matter how much last Monday night hurt me, it's good to finally feel something for Auburn football again. That's why we love football, isn't it? It's an escape from life, a time to feel like a little kid, and a time to throw all of your problems straight out the window for three and a half hours to cheer for something in which you have no control. 2013 was the toughest year of my life. Without getting too far into my personal side, I felt alone. I was having a tough time relating with anyone. But each Saturday in the fall, that all changed. Suddenly, I found myself in a place filled with other people that shared the same passion as me. Sure we may have completely different backgrounds and live in different areas, but that stuff doesn't matter once the ball is tee'd off. Auburn is a special place. Auburn is my home away from home, a place where getting emotional over a "game" is actually praised. So to end this miraculous season and rollercoaster of a year, I'll close with this...
Hold your head high. Whether you're a player or a fan, this year was more than we ever could have expected. A team that was constantly beaten down and discredited because of "lucky and miraculous" wins proved last Monday night that they were the real deal. To the players: We stand behind you. Auburn is a family, and families pull through together when faced with hardships. Nobody is disappointed in you, and I think I speak for the whole Auburn family in saying that words cannot even begin to describe how incredibly proud we are of this miraculous and unforgettable season. You guys gave Auburn fans a reason to show up to the games, to believe, and to proudly scream "War Damn Eagle" until the day we die. It's been a fun ride, so never forget the 2013 team -- the orange and blue, fearless and true.
It's Great To Be An Auburn Tiger.