Huge Crowd Honors the National Champions

A report on Auburn's huge national championship celebration is featured with news, notes and quotes from Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Auburn, Ala.--Saturday was a party day in Auburn as players, coaches, former players and fans came together at Jordan-Hare Stadium for an hour-long celebration of the 2010 football season that produced Auburn's first football national championship since 1957.

Fittingly, as part of a parade of celebrities who spoke at the event, Dr. Lloyd Nix was given the honor of bringing the BCS Championship Trophy on to the stage located on the south side of Jordan-Hare Stadium where a crowd conservatively estimated at 78,000 roared its approval.

Nix, the quarterback of the 1957 national championship team, said he was thrilled to have the opportunity to see the 2010 Tigers play.

"It's it great to be an Auburn Tiger," Nix told the crowd. "Mine (Auburn experience) started 55 years ago and it doesn't get any better than 2010."

In addressing the 2010 players, Nix said the undefeated 1957 team had "some of the same qualities you had."

"You are dedicated, you work hard, you are determined, you believe in your coaches, you believe in each other and with a crowd like this you have to believe in Auburn and Auburn fans," the quarterback said.

Auburn head coach Gene Chizik, who brought a list to the podium with people he wanted to thank for helping the Tigers have success, said, "This is a journey about a team, a journey about a family, a journey about a championship, this is a journey about greatness.

"One year ago today I stood in front of our team and I said, ‘You know what, guys. We had a good team, but I don't want to be good," he said. "I want to be great.

"I told our guys I want them to be great on the field," Chizik added. "I told them when you leave Auburn I don't went you to just be a great football player. I want you to be a great husband, I want you to be a great father. I want you to be great at anything you do."

Auburn's national honors, both individual and team, were on display at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

The Tigers, who defeated Oregon 22-19 in the BCS Championship Game, rallied from behind nine times in their 14 wins.

"Make no mistake about it, this is about a team," Chizik said. "This about a very selfless team. Take a guy like Neil Caudle. Neil could have probably played quarterback at most colleges in the country, but he loved Auburn. Let me help you out. On the last play of that (championship) game when we kicked the football to win it, Neil was holding that football."

Chizik noted that just before the Oregon game in Arizona, he told his star players, juniors Nick Fairley and Cameron Newton, that he wanted them to be team captains because it could be their last Auburn games, which turned out to be the case with both declaring for the NFL Draft.

"It was about 30 minutes before the national championship game and I didn't know whether or not they were coming back," Chizik said. "I called them in and told them, 'I want you to be the team captains.'

"Both looked at me simultaneously and said, ‘Coach, we can't do that.' They said, ‘Coach, you have got to pick two more seniors.' That is about a team that is selfless that nobody cares who gets the credit."

Chizik said winning the championship was a group effort. "This a story about family--this is a story about students, this is a story about alumni, this is a story about all of the guys who played here today."

Newton and Fairley addressed the crowd briefly as did seniors Lee Ziemba and Kodi Burns. Each of the players thanked the fans for being a big part of their "all in" season.

Ziemba said, "On behalf of the 2010 Auburn football team I just want to tell you thank you. There couldn't be a 1,000 crystal balls brought back from Arizona that could equal the gratitude I owe you all. One thing I learned about Auburn from being here all of my four years is that trophies and rings and everything, they fade away, but this family lasts forever."

A view of the crowd is shown from the top of the south end zone.

Burns, who received a big cheer from the crowd said, "The senior class been through a lot of ups and down through the last few years, but you stuck with us through it all. It has been an unbelievable experience. Like I said, I love all of y'all and thank you for the support."

Burns said, "This is amazing right now, all of you fans coming out here to support us...First and foremost I want to give glory to God for without Him none of this would be possible. I want to thank (Athletic Director) Jay Jacobs, Coach Chizik, the rest of the coaches on the staff, all of the players. It has been an unbelievable season.

"People ask me all of the time, ‘Why did you come to Auburn?' I came to Auburn for two reasons. Number one, because of this awesome Auburn Family, and number two to win a national championship so I accomplished both of those."

Newly inaugurated governor Robert Bentley from Tuscaloosa was decked out in Auburn colors, including an orange and blue tie. "This is a proud moment for the state of Alabama and for this great university," he said.

"You have represented our state, your school and the city of Auburn well," the governor added. "The entire country is fascinated by this orange and blue. This win is a testimony to overcoming adversity and perseverance under pressure. In every game you played hard to the end."

Chizik borrowed a line from English novelist Charles Dickens saying it was "the best of times and the worst of times. "It's the worst of times because this is the last time this group of guys will be collected together again, but it is the best of times because you couldn't come together for anything better than this celebration."

The Auburn coach then saluted Auburn's fans. "It's not kinda, sort of, almost," he said. "You are the best fans in the United States of America and you have helped us and been a huge part of being the best football team in the United States of America. War Damn Eagle."

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