Jack Smith stuck out like a sore thumb.
As scores of Auburn faithful swooned over the BCS National Championship trophy -- forming a line that snaked outside the lawn and garden section of a north Columbus Walmart -- Smith watched in subdued silence, sporting a spiteful Georgia Bulldogs T-shirt.
“I don’t care nothing about it myself,” the Columbus man scoffed. “My old lady make me come down here ’cause she’s an Auburn fan.”
Smith’s indifference notwithstanding, Tigers fans turned out in droves Saturday to savor a moment with an already treasured piece of Auburn history. Less than a week after Auburn bested the Oregon Ducks, capturing the school’s second national title, shouts of “War Eagle” are still resonating through the Chattahoochee Valley.
Over the span of four hours Saturday, nearly 3,000 people posed for pictures next to the lustrous trophy, securing photographic proof of a college football Mecca.
“We’re going to put the photos on Facebook,” said Kyle Slay, 15, who traveled to Columbus with his parents from Dadeville, Ala. His mother, Dianne Slay, said the family waited in line for more than an hour.
Was it worth the trouble?
“Oh, absolutely,” she said. “In my lifetime, this has been the best Auburn season.”
Bill Abercrombie, manager of the Whittlesey Road supermarket, said store officials braced for a large turnout after fans posed for some 5,000 photographs Friday evening at a Walmart in Montgomery, Ala., during the first stop of the three-day tour.
That amount of attention, centered on a $30,000 trophy made from Waterford crystal, prompted a proportionate amount of security -- and then some.
“All the guys in the black shirts are with the trophy,” Abercrombie said, motioning to several serious-looking men standing sentry. “We have our own asset protection people, and there were some guys with the BCS here earlier.”
For John Hodges, 82, Saturday’s display marked a must-see epilogue to a most memorable season.
“I just want to feel close to it,” said the Auburn alumnus and fan of 65 years.
After fighting in the Korean War, Hodges was a student in 1957 when the undefeated Tigers won their first championship.
“I think it’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened,” Hodges said outside the store. “It’s something very few universities can honor, and we’ve had now three Heisman trophy winners and two national championships.”