BCS title game notes: Chris Davis enjoying spotlight

Anniston StarJanuary 3, 2014 

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- Yes, Auburn's Chris Davis has enjoyed the fallout of his game-winning field goal return to win the Iron Bowl.

He has enjoyed walking into one of his classes and receiving a standing ovation. He has enjoyed being on the cover of Sports Illustrated. He has enjoyed signing autographs and posing for pictures.

But he is ready for the excitement to die down just a bit.

"Every time I turn on the TV, ESPN, I'm seeing that play," Davis said Friday at a BCS Championship Game news conference. "But I'm trying to put that moment behind me. We've got a bigger task at hand come Monday. We're playing for the national championship, and we're trying to bring it back to the state of Alabama."

Bammer/Barner coach

Auburn has a chance to extend an unprecedented streak Monday night if the Tigers can beat Florida State for a national championship.

It would mark five straight for the state of Alabama, with Alabama having won in 2009, 2011 and 2012 and Auburn in 2010. It would mean even the fifth-year seniors in college football wouldn't have played a season in which the championship was allowed to make it outside the state's borders.

Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson has the unique experience of coaching at both schools. He served as an assistant coach for eight years at Alabama, including a national title team in 1992 and an SEC champion in 1999.

"It's a state that loves football, loves high school football, loves college football," said Johnson, who also has coached in the SEC at Mississippi State and South Carolina. "But I think the commitment of both these universities, to the facilities, the support, the fan base, the conference we play in obviously plays a huge part.

"Hopefully, we can represent the state well and the SEC well and get another national championship."

Freshmen of influence

Two straight redshirt freshmen have won the Heisman Trophy, and Auburn has had to face both. The Tigers beat Johnny Manziel's Texas A&M Aggies earlier this year and will meet Jameis Winston and FSU on Monday.

It's no mystery to Ellis Johnson why freshmen are making such an impact at such a high level.

"They're not intimidated by 21-year-olds, and they've got the physical talent," said Johnson, who was playing at The Citadel in 1972 when the NCAA voted to allow freshmen to play varsity sports.

"I recruited Jadeveon Clowney and signed him at South Carolina, and I remember watching him on the high school field. You could have taken him his senior year, could have taken him up to Charlotte and put a Panthers uniform on him, slipped him in the ballgame on third-and-10 about three times, and nobody would have known he didn't belong out there."

BCS bookend

The BCS Championship Game began in January of 1999 with Randy Sanders calling plays for Tennessee in a win over Florida State. It will end Monday with Sanders calling plays again, this time for FSU.

Sanders was a Tennessee quarterback during 1984-88 before joining Phillip Fulmer's Vols staff as a volunteer assistant. He moved up to full-time status in 1991, and in 1998, he was promoted to quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator when David Cutcliffe left to coach Ole Miss. The promotion happened just before the Vols' appearance in the first BCS Championship Game.

He remained with Tennessee through 2005 before moving to Kentucky, where he stayed through last season. He was dismissed along with the rest of then-coach Joker Phillips' staff. He landed at Florida State, and 15 years later, he is back in the BCS title game.

"If nothing else, I'm the answer to a trivia question, right?" Sanders said. "It's exciting. When you play in the first one, you can't imagine it would be thing long getting back. ... Having been in the first one, not that you take it for granted, but you kind of expect to do it again, and that that it's been this number of years between the two ... I've taken time to appreciate the fact that I'm here."

Coach Jimbo

In a Florida State news conference Friday, several Seminoles players referred to their head coach, Jimbo Fisher, by his first name.

"I'd have to say Jimbo rolls off the toungue easier," FSU center Bryan Stork said with a smile.

But he added quickly, "We don't call him Jimbo to his face. We just say Coach. But he knows it. Heck, I even think his kids call him Jimbo. ... It is what it is, and we're still respectful of him."

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