Perfect Finish Bittersweet For Tiger Seniors

Some of Auburn's seniors discuss their feelings about about finishing 13-0, the national championship and the end of their college careers.

New Orleans, La.—-For many of the 18 Auburn seniors that finished their careers on Monday night with a win over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl and a perfect 13-0 record, the whole experience was not the amazing experience they had been expecting for a number of reasons.

"It is kind of a bittersweet feeling," Tigers' center Jeremy Ingle explained. "We are undefeated in the SEC and you would think most 13-0 teams that go undefeated are national champions. I guarantee you that if it was Georgia or Alabama that was undefeated they would be in Miami--they wouldn't be in New Orleans. But, that is part of it. You have got to live with it, but you can't really complain with being 13-0. The Lord has blessed us in so many ways and you have just got to take it for what it is worth."

Tailback Ronnie Brown added that he felt the elation of finishing off a perfect season, but also knows that the end of the game marked the end of the careers for a senior class that has grown very close during their time at Auburn.

"It was pretty emotional," Brown said about the end of an era for the seniors. "I don't think all of the seniors realize how much this meant to us as a group and especially as a team to be able to do all of the things that we have done. And to go out like this, it is definitely something that is going to remembered for years to come.

"On the other side of things, I think this senior class is going to miss all of the bonds that we have established for each other and the character of this team and some of the things that we have learned as young men besides football players," he continued. "I think it is something that is going to keep us close."

Ronnie Brown's play this season has established him as one of the top pro prospects in the country heading into the NFL Draft.

Ingle added that the national championship was something he felt like was in the back of everyone's mind during the game and even after the game in what seemed to be a subdued celebration on the field.

"Especially when it was 16-0 we were thinking we were having to play USC and Oklahoma instead of concentrating on our opponent in front of us," The senior noted. "That might be why we started to falter there in the fourth quarter, but that is just part of it right now and it is just a shame that college football is like this. You have got a bunch of kids out there that deserve to be national champions and have fought hard all year, but it is just probably not going to happen for them.

"Oh yeah, 13-0 and you would think we just won the music city bowl or something like that," he noted about the on-field celebration. "We were all running around and having a good time and all, but that national championship was still—we didn't really win it outright or anything and that is a shame. There should be some kind of system where you can clear this whole mess up."

Jason Campbell, who has been through the fire throughout his five seasons on the Plains, finished up his career on a great note as the Most Outstanding Player of the Game in the Sugar Bowl. "It feels better to go out this way because of everything that I have been through in my career."

Senior linebacker Derrick Graves talks with Gene Chizik following Auburn's 16-13 victory over Virginia Tech.

However, he added that the thought of getting passed up for at least a piece of a national championship was something that was on his mind despite the great finish. "I am not going to sit here and say we are number two behind anybody," Campbell said. "I feel like we are number one and for anyone to call us number two we would have to play it on the field. I feel like we deserve to be co-national champions, the same situation as it was last year. I think we deserve the same opportunity."

Another senior with a storied four years at Auburn said that he was very excited about the way his quarterback and team leader was able to go out. "That is a great way to end his career," Carnell Williams explained. "God knows I am so happy for Jason because I know all of the talent and gifts that he has to play this game of football, but for some reason things weren't going the right way. And you know the Lord puts people through trials, but he stuck in there and showed his faith and now look at him."

Williams added that not being in Miami was something that was in the back of his mind, but that he would not let that interfere with everything he and his teammates have accomplished and experienced this season.

"First of all, I am definitely satisfied with my career," he explained. "I wouldn't change the good, the bad times or whatever because for one it has made me a greater person."

Williams said that in the end it was simply amazing that somehow he and the rest of his senior classmates have already played their final game as Auburn Tigers. "I just can remember when we were freshman. Now we are seniors and we are about to go on with our life. It is just hard to believe."

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