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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • An Auburn fan cries 'War Eagle'

  • I had another column ready to go today, but events from the weekend prompted a change.
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  • I had another column ready to go today, but events from the weekend prompted a change.
    My college team, which went 0-8 in the conference last year, won the conference football championship Saturday.
    Reckon I need to explain for non-sports fans.
    My team is the Auburn Tigers, a team that plays in the toughest conference in the NCAA, the Southeastern Conference, or SEC. That is illustrated by the past seven national champions coming from the SEC, with Auburn among them in 2010.
    Ah, love those preseason predictions.
    Since my Tigers finished in the SEC cellar last year, the school fired the 2010 national coach of the year and brought back the former offensive coach fired in 2011 by the former national coach of the year, the one fired himself in 2012.
    If it sounds complicated, it is.
    A two-alumni search committee was appointed last year to recommend a new coach. The two alumni were Auburn's first two Heisman Trophy winners, Pat Sullivan and the much better known Bo Jackson.
    Their recommendation was Gus Malzahn, who in his year away from Auburn led his Arkansas State team to a bowl game. He's one heck of a coach, and he was as glad to return to Auburn as Auburn was to lure him back.
    Back to the preseason predictions.
    The magazine I bought, Athlon Sports College Football, had a page for 125 NCAA teams. On its page, Auburn was ranked 42nd overall, and sixth in the 14 teams in the SEC. Not a bad prediction at all, considering the Tigers had been at the bottom just a year earlier.
    The magazine picked the Tigers to be 6-6 overall this year and 2-6 in the SEC. Instead, they are 12-1 overall — so far — and finished 7-1 in the SEC. Included in those seven conference wins was a victory over then-No. 1, the Alabama Crimson Tide.
    It's amazing what a new coach and coaching staff can do, along with a few key player changes.
    The two quarterbacks mentioned in the preseason magazine didn't get very favorable comments. A third quarterback's write-up stated, "Junior college signee Nick Marshall could factor into the picture, too."
    He factored all right, as the second-leading rusher with more than 1,000 yards.
    Last year, he quarterbacked for Garden City Community College in Kansas. This year, he quarterbacked the SEC champions. Perhaps Auburn recruiters should look more closely at Kansas in the future, as he's not the first Auburn star to come from the Sunflower State.
    Ohio State was picked to be No. 2, where it stayed much of the year until Saturday night.
    After the Buckeyes lost to Michigan State, Auburn took their place.
    Auburn had beaten the pick for No. 1, Alabama, so in the BCS title game Auburn, the new and final No. 2, will play Florida State, picked preseason to finish 15th overall. So preseason No. 15 will play No. 42 for end of season No. 1.
    Page 2 of 2 - The day of the SEC championship game, five sports writers at a large metropolitan newspaper in the area predicted the winner. Four picked Missouri, Auburn's opponent. Four were wrong.
    That leads me to believe perhaps four, or maybe more, will pick Florida State to win the BCS championship game. We'll see.
    I couldn't be prouder of my newly resuscitated Tigers.
    As a freshman, I was in the stands when an Associated Press representative presented the national championship trophy to Auburn in the spring of 1958 for football year 1957. And, I watched as many games as I could during national championship season No. 2 in 2010.
    You can bet I'll be glued to the tube Jan. 6 for the biggest game of the year. I'll be proud of my team, win or lose, but it's easier to be prouder of a winner. The team's nickname is the Tigers, and its' battle cry is War Eagle.
    When I was there, we also called the team Big Blue and the Plainsmen.
    Whatever one calls the team, I wish the best in The Big Game.
    War Eagle!
    John Reichley is a retired Army officer and retired Department of the Army civilian employee.

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