Aug. 12, 2013
EveAnn Champion, and 1-year-old Evan, get autograph from Auburn's Gus Malzahn (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — The end of the line was way back here. The front of the line was way down there.
The autograph line for Auburn running backs Tre Mason and Cameron Artis-Payne was a full-court shot, and then some, in Auburn Arena on Sunday at Fan Day. Approximately 9,000 fans got autographs, posed for photos and talked a little Auburn football with players and head coach Gus Malzahn.
"These are the days I love," Mason said. "Without them, I wouldn't be anything."
With them, Mason is a 1,000-yard rusher. His tablemate at Fan Day, Artis-Payne, arrived with big-time college stats, and that's probably why they had the longest line on the arena floor.
"The best fans in college football," Mason said.
Many teammates tweeted similar sentiments during the day.
The fans were happy to look ahead with Mason, Artis-Payne and all the other players; and, of course, Malzahn, who is back as the head coach. Fans remember him from his first go-around when he was the offensive coordinator for Cam Newton when the Tigers won the 2010 BCS national championship.
"War Eagle coach, welcome home," said one fan, or many.
Malzahn was a machine signing his name, and asking their names, too.
"I know you're going to bring us back."
"Thanks for saying that," Malzahn said.
There was that theme of hope. And suggestions.
"Don't be afraid to run up the score this year," said a fan.
It was also a day to look for scoops.
"Coach, is there a particular QB's autograph I should get today?" asked a fan.
But there was also a safer approach.
"Coach, I got all four QBs' autographs so I that I know I got the starter."
And the fan who was looking to the future.
"This is your starting QB in 2024," she said of her child.
The cheerleaders, the volleyball and soccer teams were there. And Aubie.
"I want to see Aubie," a young girl said.
"I understand," Malzahn said. "I have nieces that feel the same way."
But it may have taken a first-grader in a cheerleader uniform to sum of the thoughts of many.
"War Eagle, make our team better."
It's fun day at Fan Day:
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twttier: Follow @AUGoldMine