Auburn Football: Fans Rally Around Team, Gus Malzahn Vows Return to Title Game

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Auburn Football: Fans Rally Around Team, Gus Malzahn Vows Return to Title Game
Justin Lee

Despite Auburn's heartbreaking 34-31 loss to Florida State in the BCS National Championship Game on Monday, hundreds of Tigers fans were on hand Tuesday at Auburn's indoor practice facility to welcome back the team as it arrived from Pasadena.

Fans lined the indoor facility, making a tunnel stretching the length of the full-sized field, mimicking Auburn's usual "Tiger Walk" tradition—where fans cheer as the team enters the Jordan-Hare Stadium before a game.

This time, "Tiger Walk" wasn't before a game, but after it—and after a loss, no less.

Even after Auburn's last-minute loss to Florida State, the fans were still there to welcome the team back to the Plains—and still there to chant "It's great to be an Auburn Tiger."

"This is truly unbelievable," Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs said.

"Hey guys," Jacobs continued, directing his attention to the Tigers players. "This is what being a part of the Auburn Family means. I know some of you are first-year guys, and some of you are fourth or fifth-year guys, but this is what it means, right here. Regardless of what happens out there, the Auburn Family sticks together."

Jacobs spoke at a podium arranged at the end of the Tiger Walk, then turned the microphone over to Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn.

"You are truly the best fans in college football. It all started at A-Day with 84,000 fans," Malzahn said to the crowd, referencing the Tigers' record-setting spring game attendance. "I just want to say thank you."

Malzahn ended his words with a promise.

"We're disappointed we came up just a little bit short—13 seconds," Malzahn said. "But I'm just going to tell you, I've never been prouder of a team, and of what they've done and where they've come. We're all in this together. We're truly the Auburn Family. These guys right here laid the groundwork for great things to come in the future.

"I'm going to tell you right now: We're going to go back."

Justin Lee
Fans await the Auburn football team's arrival at the Tigers' indoor practice facility Tuesday night in Auburn.
Justin Lee
Fans created an impromptu "Tiger Walk" that stretched the length of Auburn's full-sized indoor practice field.
Justin Lee
Players arrive at the other end of the field after being greeted by fans.
Justin Lee
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn before speaking to the gathered crowd.
Justin Lee
Fans and members of the media gather as Gus Malzahn and Jay Jacobs prepare to speak.
Justin Lee
Fans stuck around as players gathered their luggage and left the athletic complex.

Justin Lee
Senior defensive end Dee Ford takes photos with fans as he leaves the Auburn athletics complex.

Justin Lee is Bleacher Report's lead Auburn writer. Follow him on Twitter @byjustinlee. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

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