In a message to the university's staff members, Richardson wrote:
"With the SEC championship approaching this week, I thought the time right to reflect on what the Auburn Tigers 2004 football season has meant to the state, community, the campus, our alumni and fans. With BCS debates ranging far and wide, there's more than enough talk about number of wins versus losses; the kind of winning I'm talking about is as much off the field as on.
"During the Georgia game, when a young man (wide receiver Reggie Brown) went down hard on the field and didn't get up, a large group of Auburn Tigers went onto the field and took to a knee, praying for the young man's recovery. The sportscasters didn't say much about it, but more than 80,000 fans saw it, the Georgia fans were talking about it, and we all learned something about sportsmanship. Time and again, we've witnessed such unity of spirit from this winning team, a message that reflects positively on AU Tigers.
"This kind of leadership is formed by example, and nowhere are there better examples than Coach Tommy Tuberville and his outstanding team of coaches. They are the reason the fotball team has set aside glory for individual players for the betterment of ‘team.' There is no doubt this season is unique in Auburn's history and will not soon be forgotten.
"This dedication has resulted in 14 players who have won or are on the finalist lists for more than 42 individual honors, ranging from players of the week to Jim Thorpe and Johnny Unitas awards. Coach Tuberville is among the semi-finalists for the George Munger Award, for coach of the year.
"Under his leadership, Auburn football players have the opportunity to provide leadership, not only on the field, but in their daily lives as well. I know they will continue their winning ways during their careers at Auburn and beyond.
"To Coach Tuberville, all of the coaches and players, we'll never forget the example you have set for us this year and for providing an unforgettable football season."
The Tigers, who have won 13 straight games dating back to last season, are ranked third nationally behind Southern Cal and Oklahoma in both major polls and in the BCS rankings. One of those two teams needs to lose for the Tigers to have a chance to play for the BCS national championship trophy at the Orange Bowl. If that doesn't happen and the Tigers defeat Tennessee, Auburn is expected to receive an invitation to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. If the Tigers are upset by the Vols on Saturday, they will play in the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando.