Maybe it's because Auburn won a national championship just a few years ago, but I'm not sad about my alma mater's 34-31 loss last night to Florida State.
The last time Auburn played in the BCS title game, in 2010, I thought, "This might be the only time I see Auburn play for the national championship." In that game, Auburn defeated Oregon, and I was thrilled. This time around I simply thought, "We aren't even supposed to be in the game after going 3-9 last year. It'll just be fun to watch."
Don't get me wrong, last night I jumped up and pumped my fist when Auburn took the lead with 1:19 left in the fourth quarter. I felt a moment of heartbreak when FSU quarterback Jameis Winston drove his team down the field to score a touchdown in the final moments.
The next thought that popped in my head - "It's only football." My life today hasn't changed because of that win in 2010 or the loss last night. I'm still an Auburn alum. I still love "my" team. I still have pride for the school and its football team.
Is it just me?
Granted, my Facebook wall is flooded with Auburn friends and fellow alums, so I don't hear much about a lot of other teams, but are other fans as content when their team loses a national title game?
My first post after the game concluded was, "It's great to be an Auburn Tiger." When I woke up this morning, my Facebook wall was flooded with similar posts. Friends from college were posting about how proud they were of Auburn and how they, too, felt great to be an Auburn Tiger fan. But we're not just fans, we're family.
Even runningback Tre Mason, in a post-game press conference, apologized to the Auburn family for not winning the game - though Mason has nothing at all to apologize for after helping to lead the Tigers to a thrilling 12-2 season.
During the pregame show last night, thousands of orange-clad Auburn fans were seen crowding the entrance to greet the team at the stadium for the Tiger Walk tradition. At the other gate, only a few hundred FSU fans were waiting for their team.
As an Auburn fan, when I see someone with an Auburn shirt or hat or jacket on, I say, "War Eagle!" They say it back. It's happened at a Chicago Cubs game, the Biltmore estate and the grocery store, among other places. Last week, a car passing me on the road honked and waved right before I noticed his car had an Auburn license plate, too.
I wonder if this happens with other teams and schools?
When I enrolled at Auburn, I had no interest in college football, but that quickly changed due to the exciting atmosphere on game days. When I graduated from Auburn, I knew that I was part of a family of proud alumni and will be for the rest of my life.
I sometimes hear people say they hated their college, that they don't care about football or sports or that they just don't care if a team wins or loses.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with that. But for nearly four hours last night, I felt a unity with friends and former classmates as well as alumni I've never met before. We ranted and raved on message boards. We posted photos of our kids on the Alumni Facebook page in their Auburn clothes. We typed "War Eagle!" or "Go Tigers!" at every great play and we complained about missed opportunities.
It's OK that we lost last night. It's just a game. There will be others. There will be other losses to go with the wins. Through it all, it's just great to be an Auburn Tiger.