Team of destiny -- sounds good but hardly does Auburn justice
The Tigers have earned the right to be in the BCS championship game against Florida State, even if there was a little magic along the way.
"Getting raised by a single parent is always hard," said Auburn's senior defensive back.
You know Davis better as the Kick Six guy, the Alabama giant killer. You don't know him as a kid whose dad was shot and killed when he was 2.
Sure, his life has changed. More folks ask for autographs. They want him to pose for pictures. But do they ask about his 3-year-old son, Chris III, named after his daddy and deceased grandpa? Do they ask about his mom, Janice Brown, or a cadre of family members who helped raise Auburn's current BMOC?
Do they ask about the further mission he is on Monday night against Florida State in the BCS title game?
You see, Davis has been here before. Three years ago against Oregon he raced down covering the opening kickoff in the 2010 national championship game and sprained his ankle. One play.
He watched the remainder of the game on crutches.
"As a competitor, yeah, you felt like you weren't part of it," Davis said. "As a team player, you were happy for the team. But I've moved on from that and I've got another opportunity."
It's almost disrespectful, the labels slapped on Auburn. Destiny. Magic. Karma. Disrespectful and lazy. You don't go 12-1 in the SEC without kicking a little backside. You don't improve by 8½ games, the second-biggest turnaround in FBS history, without some chops.
Destiny? There wasn't much for Ricardo Louis during last year's spring break in Panama City, Fla.
"I'd see a lot of players from Florida State, Georgia and other teams," Louis said. "Georgia was kind of looking at us like we were the laughingstock of the SEC. I was kind of embarrassed to be out there on spring break.
"So I said, 'You know what? Come next season I'm going to show ya'll why you shouldn't be laughing at us anymore.' "
This from a guy who had all of three catches to his name after his freshman season in 2012.
It took until Nov. 23 against Georgia for Louis to really get back at his tormentors. He was the author of the Prayer at Jordan-Hare.
"When I think back, before that [fourth-and-18] play, something just told me, 'Tell them you want the ball,' " Louis said.
Check that, he demanded the ball from his coaches, from his quarterback. To that point Louis had caught only three passes in the game. For the season he caught only 26 balls in 13 games. So ... why then?
"That's a question I can't answer," Louis said.
Except that the party didn't end at spring break.
Magic? There ain't much magic in Ellis Johnson's job. Auburn's crusty defensive coordinator has spent 37 years in the profession. One hundred-hour weeks aren't rare. You do that for so long and maybe something like Auburn's late-season fortune is karma.
"I think everything has a little element of that," Johnson said. "When you win as many close ballgames as we have won this year, that's where that word comes from."
Which one -- destiny? Magic? Karma? All of them? Johnson won't say but adds, "I don't think there's anything wrong with it.' "
Dee Ford has kind of the same take. Like Davis, Auburn's senior defensive end already won a national championship with the Tigers in 2010. There's no Cam Newton one-man band feel this time. Just like three years ago, Dee's defense is almost along for the ride. But this time there is a feeling that whatever the Tigers do they can't lose.
Destiny? Magic? Karma?
"It sounds good but ..." Ford said, pausing. "A lot of people don't understand what goes on behind the scenes. I'm just there to remind them, 'Hey, we worked for this. We expected this was going to happen.' "
That's what these Tigers would like to tell the world as they prepare for the final BCS national title game. They are the better story in the matchup, but Florida State is the better team.
But Auburn has averaged the most rushing yards of any FBS team in 13 years. Nick Marshall looks like a latter-day reincarnation of Tommie Frazier. There are reasons Gus Malzahn has won several national coach of the year honors.
"This is my first time hearing about a team of destiny [in] college football," Louis said.
Robenson Therezie could have screwed the whole thing up. The junior defensive back missed by about an inch of blocking Adam Griffith's 57-yard kick that night against Alabama. The ball whizzed past his forearm.
"I don't know about that," Therezie said when told a block would have ruined the drama. "I probably would have scooped and scored."
When Griffith's kick did sail right and short, Therezie almost became a groupie. He was headed to the sideline, certain of overtime. When Davis came sailing toward him, Therezie's jaw dropped.
"My mouth piece dropped out of my mouth," he said. "Once Chris got closer I just turned around and escorted him into the end zone."
"We'd never worked on it in practice, that was the most unusual thing," Johnson said.
That's destiny. Or is it the fact that Davis hadn't been put back to return until a last-second decision was made during a timeout? Davis replaced Ryan Smith because he returned punts.
That's karma. Or is it that Johnson has seen the film? There are about five blocks that had to be made in order to spring Davis.
"If they're not made," he said, "Chris doesn't get past the 50-yard line."
That's magic. Or is it the championship rings from '10 (SEC/BCS) that Davis has never bothered to squirrel away in a safety deposit box?
"They're at home," he said, "in the room."
Waiting for company.
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