Tigers Celebrate National Championship

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM Nick Fairley and Tracy Rocker
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM
Nick Fairley and Tracy Rocker
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

Jan. 22, 2011

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All-Access Video Celebration Ceremony Editor's Note: When watching video, move timeline marker to the 1 hour mark to see the beginning.

AUBURN - The Auburn football team commemorated its 2010 National Championship with a celebration in front of a crowd estimated at 78,000 fans Saturday afternoon at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Head coach Gene Chizik and the Tigers were introduced and entered the stadium individual to a rousing ovation, proceeding onto a large stage in the south end zone to begin the 80-minute ceremony.

Also on stage with the Tigers were a number of team and individual trophies and awards, which were presented to various players and coaches throughout the ceremony. Included among the trophies were the BCS Coaches Trophy, the Associated Press Trophy, the Grantland Rice Sportswriters Trophy and the MacArthur National Championship Trophy.

Cam Newton's Heisman Trophy and Nick Fairley's Lombardi Award were also on the stage, in addition to Offensive Coordinator Gus Malzahn's Frank Broyles Award.

A number of individuals addressed the crowd during the ceremony, including Auburn President Dr. Jay Gogue, Athletics Director Jay Jacobs, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, Auburn mayor Bill Hamm and Lloyd Nix, quarterback of the 1957 National Championship team. Newton, Fairley, Lee Ziemba and Kodi Burns also spoke to the crowd.

A highlight video of the season capped the ceremony, and 30 minutes later, the team filed out of Jordan-Hare Stadium through a reverse Tiger Walk back to the Athletics Complex. Fans then headed to Toomer's Corner to continue the celebration.

The Tigers won the 2010 BCS National Championship on Jan. 10 with a 22-19 victory over Oregon, capping a perfect 14-0 season for the team's second national title.

Auburn Head Coach Gene Chizik
On the turnout...
"It is just so fitting to me. I am not shocked at all that we had that many people there, because that is who our fans are. As a coach, you feel like you have a certain responsibility to the fans and to the people who pour their heart and soul into this university. It is the students, the alumni, the people who didn't go to school here. It is the whole gamut. It is awesome to see them all show up today to celebrate the championship."

On winning a championship after only being at Auburn for two years...
"I hate to use the word surprising, because it insinuates that you didn't think it could happen that quickly. I don't like putting a time frame on anything when it comes to football. Two years ago when Jay and I talked, we talked about leadership and how we are going to lead this team. There was no doubt in my mind, that we had the right blueprint to get this thing done. Our quick that unfolds is different, depending on the circumstances. It is unbelievable when you have a great number of coaches, administrators, players, families, that really don't care who gets the credit. They just want to win. They just want to work hard. Work, hard work. That is in the Creed. We preach it to them every day, and it is amazing what they can do when they do that. With no time frame put in place, we are blessed to be here at this moment in time, but that was our expectation, because make no mistake about it, that is what the Auburn people deserve."

On where the program goes from here...
"I never have any worries about the ability to do that. We are in a circle, and in that circle there is no beginning and there is no end. That is what you are when you are a college football coach. Regardless of the outcome this season, the circle continues and you move onto the next thing. You just continue to stay within that circle. So, there are no beginnings and no ends. You just continue on. That is what I expect of our staff, and the hard work. Now for me to say that we have to work harder, that would not be right, because we shouldn't have been working any less hard than we've been here. We are going to continue the thing that we have been doing, and we are going to continue to work as hard as we can with a commitment that is second to none and continue to stay on that track."

On the impact that Cam Newton and Nick Fairley had this year...
"It is obvious that they are great football players. They are not good, they are great football players. I am going to back up a little bit and give a lot of credit to a lot of people to develop into that. There are a lot of people who are responsible for taking great talent and in a short period of time. Whether it was developing them physically, or teaching them the game, or creating a scheme that is going to take full advantage of what they were able to do, and I think they were able to make those things happen. That is why I am so proud of this coaching staff. What we did on offense to allow Cam not to be a good player, but a great player, some people may not have had the vision to do those kinds of things. That wouldn't have made Cam any less of a great player, but it gave him opportunities. You look at Nick Fairley, who came out of junior college, he had to be developed. Tracy Rocker and Ted Roof and our defensive staff, developed them and put him scheme wise in positions to do great things. I am very blessed to be around to really great players, and they will forever be known and remembered at Auburn and they should be. It is about the whole team, and it is about everybody who surrounded them, coaching them, and helping them be what they ending up becoming. For all of those people, including those two players, I am very grateful."

Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs
On the turnout...
"It takes a lot to get to where we are today. I look back at last year at the West Virginia game with all the students staying out there in the pouring rain, and they were `All In' then. For forever, this team will be known as champions. The students will be able to look back and say `I was here when we won the 2010 National Championship'. It just takes what Gene and his staff has done with these seniors and galvanized the Auburn Family. It is unbelievable the number of people we had here. It was cold. It was like this team. Statistically, you never would have thought we would have been here today, but the great thing about an Auburn Man is that you can't measure his heart. That is the same with our fans. It is great for the Auburn Family and the Auburn community."

Junior quarterback Cam Newton
On the number of people at the celebration...
"I was speechless for the most part because I really didn't expect for it to be like that. I talked to Tim Jackson and asked him how many people would be there, and he said a couple thousand. I've seen a couple thousand, but I'm a visual learner so I told him to tell me how many. He said it would probably fill up the little bottom part of the bowl. We got here and there were people everywhere. It was beyond what I expected. That just goes to show you the type of fan support we have. It was amazing."

On Governor Bentley being in attendance...
"It was awesome. We didn't want to see any form or shape of that "T" word today. Let's just say he's a smart man for being in orange and blue."

On when you realized that this would be a special team...
"Just looking at the leadership and it's easy for somebody like Coach Chizik to say `Alright, these are the leaders right here.' We have so many people behind the scenes that were making everybody accountable for what they're supposed to be. The Friday nights, the Tuesday nights, the summer nights, that are undisclosed to what a season really means for us. Those guys really stepped up. We never wanted to, not one time, look ahead of our schedule. We had a speaker one time this season come and his focus was one day at a time, one play at a time. That was probably one of the things we had to play by and we did it throughout the season."

On what Tim Jackson meant to you throughout the season...
"Everywhere I go, people always see Tim. Around this team, they always joke on us and they call him my shadow. They give me a hard time, but honestly, and I'm saying this with the utmost respect, without Tim Jackson this year, I don't think I would have been as sane as I was. There's no telling what I would have been doing mentally. Tim Jackson is a person that kept me level-headed throughout the trying times, and also just giving me a head's up to look for throughout each week. I'm blessed to have a person like Tim in my life. The road with us doesn't just stop today. I think Tim and I will be connected for a long time as a great friendship."

On what the coaching staff has meant to the team on and off the field...
"I describe them as a bag of Skittles. When you pour a whole bunch of Skittles in your hand, you get so many different flavors, so many different characteristics. But when you put them all in your mouth, it's just so sweet. It's just so many different characteristics, personas. You have Coach Troop (Trooper Taylor) who is probably the craziest of them all. You have Coach (Curtis) Luper, Mr. Smooth. Coach (Gus) Malzahn is the genius. That's just on the offensive side of the ball. You have Coach Rock (Tracy Rocker) who is Mr. Hardnosed, you have Coach (Phillip) Lolley who is Mr. Country and Coach (Ted) Roof, he's a combination of everything mixed in one. For all the coaches that I missed, I apologize, but we have an excellent coaching staff. That really goes unnoticed for a lot of things, especially keeping the characters on this team. Especially with Nick (Fairley), he's a work in himself. You can just imagine what they go through on a daily basis."

Junior defensive tackle Nick Fairley
On when you realized that this would be a special team...
"I realized it actually when we were practicing in the spring. The team was coming together and each and every day we got better and better and better and better. There never was a day that we took off from practice in the spring. I knew then we had a great team."

Senior wide receiver Kodi Burns
On the reception standing up on stage today...
"It was everything I expected. These Auburn fans are the best in the country. There was a great showing from all of them. It just makes you feel honored and special to be a part of it so it was pretty incredible."

On his plans the next few months...
"Probably the same as a lot of these seniors, training to do, Pro Day and the combines and different things like that. I've got an All-Star game I will be playing in later in the month, but the biggest thing with me I need to graduate. I have eight hours left so I'll be taking classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays and then going out of town and training after that. It will be a pretty hectic semester for me."

On being introduced as a senior and being on the field one last time...
"It was amazing. Me and Lee were talking and this is what we came here for. I can remember back in 12th grade at track meets and see this guy throwing shot put and I'd be over there doing my track stuff. We would just talk about how incredible it would be to go to Auburn and win a championship and now that we have done that. Just seeing all the things we went through and just persevering through it all and then to have this last reception like this words can't describe it. It's something you are going to remember for the rest of your life because it's people that became a part of me. It's been a lot of fun."

On the picture from the front of Sports Illustrated...
"When I first saw it I thought it couldn't be me and it was a mistake and that they were trying to get Cam and I just happen to get in the way. It's something that I will remember for the rest of my life. It shows that we are all a team. I guess the biggest thing to be about that was just having the whole team as the Sports Illustrated cover because usually it's just one player or two or three players. It was pretty much the whole offense in that picture and just to be a part of that is something special."

Senior offensive tackle Lee Ziemba
On the Family being forever...
"I have been here through bad seasons and good season alike and the Auburn Family just doesn't change through any of it. When I have gray hair and I am one foot into the grave, they are not going to remember this championship. What I am going to remember is the warmness and the kindness of the Auburn people and what this family means to me. The way I have grown as a man and all the people that have brought me up and been with me through these four years have been outstanding and I can't thank them enough."

On the day full of celebrations...
"It's a special day and that's why we had so many guys that were off doing things and getting prepared, taking red eyes back from Arizona to come and enjoy this day because it doesn't happen very often."