Back Auburn’s Steadfast Belief

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Auburn’s Steadfast Belief

By Matt Osborne
SouthernPigskin.com
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You can call Auburn’s season miraculous if you would like, but do not forget that miracles happen most frequently to those that believe.

The word “belief” is defined as “confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof”.

In college football, belief is usually the one intangible quality which provides a team with an opportunity to have a successful season.

No team in college football has personified just how much of a profound impact belief can have on a team than the Auburn Tigers.

Heading into the 2012 season, Auburn was picked to finish fourth in a loaded SEC West, behind LSU, Alabama and Arkansas. The Tigers even received a pair of first-place votes from media members at SEC Media Days in Birmingham.

Expectations were certainly not as high as they had been in previous seasons, but they also were not indicative of a team on the precipice of finishing 0-8 in SEC play for the first time in program history.

That is exactly what came to fruition, however, as the Tigers, lacking belief and confidence due to a string of heartbreaking early-season losses, ultimately seemed to give up hope on the season, resulting in arguably the worst season in the history of Auburn Football.

Largely due to the lack of belief that the Tigers showed in 2012, Auburn was picked to finish in the bottom half of its own division during the most recent SEC Media Days event. Improvement was expected with the return of former offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn as the new head coach, but the Tigers still appeared to be a year or two away from contention in the toughest division in the nation.

But unlike the 2012 campaign, Auburn found a way to win many of its close games early in the year.

Four of Auburn’s first six wins came by eight points or less, including victories over ranked Ole Miss and Texas A&M programs.

The saying “success breeds success, and confidence breeds confidence” had never held truer.

Spurned along by a newfound belief in their ability to find ways to win football games, the Tigers started playing with a confidence and swagger which had been noticeably missing the fall prior.

“I think it’s a sheer confidence, and they have a tremendous amount of swagger about them right now. They’ve bought into the philosophy of Coach Malzahn and his staff,” former Auburn quarterback Ben Leard commented on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. “They believe that if they do enough to be in contention in the fourth quarter that they will win the game. They believe that if they can find themselves within an arm’s reach of the game in the fourth quarter, they know they are going to win, and that is a dangerous scenario for an opponent.”

Of course, one of the few attributes which potentially has the power to trump a true sense of belief is a complacent attitude. Good achievements simply do not become great achievements unless the desire to continue chasing after your goal with relentless effort remains intact.

After a surprising 45-41 victory over Texas A&M on the road, virtually all of Auburn’s perceived realistic preseason expectations had already been met.

The opportunity to throw in the towel and mark the 2013 season down as a successful campaign was undoubtedly present before the end of October.

“I think the one thing that Coach Malzahn and his staff should be credited for, is that when they got to the generic expectations being met, they didn’t lose sight of what the goal was, and they didn’t let the players lose sight of the goal was. The goal is ultimately to win the SEC championship and propel yourself into the national title hunt,” Leard continued. “They do a really good job of enjoying the victory on Saturday night and the flipping the switch and moving on to the next game.”

Many fans across the country have written off Auburn’s recent success as nothing more than blind luck.

It is an argument that many people close to the program resent, even if they do recognize some of the fortunate and opportunistic breaks which have benefitted the team.

“What I’ve always learned is that you create your own luck,” former NFL All-Pro and Auburn fullback Tony Richardson told Southern Pigskin. “Although I have got to say, that Georgia game was crazy.”

You can call Auburn’s season miraculous if you would like, but do not forget that miracles happen most frequently to those that believe.

And for this Auburn team, believing has never been an issue.

Matt Osborne - Matt Osborne currently serves as the director of recruiting and lead editor for Southern Pigskin. His work has been published in a number of national publications, including USA Today. Although he loves all levels of football, Matt's number one joy in his life is his relationship with Jesus Christ. Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattOsborne200. For media requests, please email Matt at matt@southernpigskin.com.