Freshest in our minds is Monday night’s miraculous (and, for Auburn fans, disappointing) come-from-behind win by Florida State, which was sealed by a touchdown pass with only 13 seconds left in the game.
Earlier, on Nov. 16, Auburn came from behind to beat Georgia on a last-minute touchdown pass known as the “Prayer at Jordan-Hare.” Two weeks later, the Tigers shocked No. 1 Alabama on an improbable last-second touchdown off a missed field goal.
College football programs might go decades hoping for just one miracle play. Yet, Ricardo Louis’ 73-yard TD catch against Georgia or Chris Davis’ 109-yard return of a missed Alabama field goal can’t tell the whole story of the Tigers’ season. (Nor does the Jameis Winston-to-Kelvin Benjamin TD pass that gave the Seminoles a win Monday define Auburn.)
If forced to put a date on Auburn’s amazing turnaround, we’d select Dec. 4, 2012, the day Auburn announced it was hiring Gus Malzahn as its head coach.
Jay Jacobs, AU’s athletic director, summed up the hire by noting, “This is a great day for Auburn football and Auburn University.”
Just how great was proven one year and a few days later when Auburn beat Missouri in the 2013 Southeastern Conference title game and advanced to the BCS contest against Florida State.
One year removed from a losing season, a coaching change and a disappointing loss to in-state rival Alabama, Auburn competed for a national championship. Incredible. Amazing. Inspiring.
The lessons extend beyond the sports world. Auburn’s success teaches us all to dream big, work hard toward significant goals and to never, ever give up.