NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- Gus Malzahn has taken Auburn from a winless season in the SEC to within one win of a national championship.
But he doesn't expect the good times to end after Monday night's BCS Championship Game.
"I think our best years are ahead," Malzahn said Saturday morning during an hour-long appearance with reporters. "I know we've had a great year, and we've found ways to get here, but I think we've got a chance to sustain this thing.
"We have the right coaches, and our players, we're a young team. ... We're laying the groundwork. Early in the year, I said we're a work in progress, and our guys found a way to get us here. But I think our best years are ahead."
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Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs has enjoyed the Tigers' 12-1 season, which is all the more sweet after last season's struggles.
Jacobs, a former Auburn player who has worked in the athletics department since 1985, was the one who fired former coach Gene Chizik two years after a national championship season. While taking a break Saturday morning in the BCS media hospitality room, he said it wasn't just one or two factors that led to firing Chizik. Jacobs said it was a variety of things that date back to the 2011 season.
"It was an erosion in the program," Jacobs said. "It's like when it rains a little bit, then rains a little more. the erosion starts. "Then it starts storming, and because of erosion, everything's gone downhill. That's why I made the change."
Auburn center Reese Dismukes doesn't mind revealing he has some superstitions he feels compelled to indulge before games.
But when a reporter asked Saturday morning if it includes something that some linemen do -- not wash their underwear -- Dismukes hedged on that one.
"I always tape my left foot first and my left hand first as well," he said. "Just things here and there. You know, I wear the same underwear sometimes, but I always wash my underwear. I mean, you know, it's 2014, so you got good washing machines.
"I mean just little stuff here and there. I mean everybody's got their stuff they do."
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston said he compares Auburn's defense with Clemson, a fellow Atlantic Coast Conference team.
"They remind me of Clemson's defense with the front four, and the way they move around," Winston said. "They're like Clemson. ... Obviously I'm going to have to get the ball out of my hands fast but my offensive line has done a great job this year, and I trust everyone around me."
Clemson fell to the Seminoles 51-14.
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has worked for two coaches who have won more than one national championship, but he said he isn't the same as either Nick Saban or Bobby Bowden.
Fisher coached under Saban for five years at LSU, including the 2003 national championship-winning season. He coached at FSU under Bowden during 2007-09 before succeeding him as the Seminoles' coach.
"The one thing I learned about the sensible coaches I've watched, they're who they are," Fisher said. "They have their beliefs in how to do things. They're convicted to them. Whoever it is, even when there's doubters, I believe in things, smart enough to make changes, but they have to be themselves. That's the one thing I've always tried to do is I am going to be Jimbo. ...
"This is what I'm going to do, and if we get the results, we get them. If not, I'll make changes. I don't try to be Coach Bowden or Coach Saban or be anybody. I just try to be Jimbo."
Shakespeare in California
Auburn senior running back Chandler Shakespeare is soaking in his BCS experience, even if the walk-on likely won't get to play Monday night against Florida State.
"It's a big honor and a blessing to be here," said Shakespeare, an Oxford High graduate who has rushed 12 times for 69 yards this season. "A lot of people counted us out, but we believed in ourselves and showed what we could do together."
Shakespeare said his mother, father and sister have traveled to Southern California to see his final college game and are doing plenty of sight-seeing before Monday's game.
So far, his favorite activity from the trip is attending a Los Angeles Clippers' NBA game.
"It's been a good trip," he said, smiling.