PART FIVE: THE LEGACY
Milton— It’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime games that come along and you feel very blessed that you’re in the chair at that moment. I don’t know if we’ll ever see anything like that, only because there were so many things in play. It was a rivalry, a national championship at stake, the score tied, the home team wins and beats the big dog that came in with everything on the line.
Silver— And we get off the air and everybody’s high-fiving and hugging and the TV truck compound is in the end zone, and the announcers are in the press box, so however long it took them to get down there. And I remember Verne comes down and he’s standing there and we hug and I look at him and say “what just happened?” It was disbelief, the whole sequence of events. And to this day almost three years later, I still am in disbelief at what happened in that moment.
Lundquist— Certainly the finish I think was the greatest finish to any sporting event I’ve ever seen. What stunned me was when I got back to the hotel, there was no celebration that I remember among us, CBS crew. I thought we did ourselves proud. And so there were expressions of nice job, great job and thank you guys and that sort of thing. But none of us were dancing around.
Danielson— It wasn’t until the game was over where I said, “well we’ll never see that again. Or that’s unbelievable.”
It was the realization I told Verne and our crew when we had our final crew meeting, that we’re most proud of is that there were 70 people that did their job right. Later when I watched the replay and stuff, I got to sit back and enjoy it and we all knew that we had been part of something very special.
Lundquist— So just on a very personal level, I’ve been so lucky over all these years to have a number of occasions where something terrific broke out in front of me, and I was able to put a headline on it.
Wolfson— This is one of the first games that my kids had come to with me. And I remember walking out of the stadium and seeing the celebration. I remember the fans. I remember walking back to the hotel and where we sat after the hotel.
I remember all the conversations we had about how crazy the game was. And I remember my kids were like “what’s going on?” They understood what happened, but to a point. My husband knew what he just witnessed, a huge college football fan himself.
I remember walking through the fans and the sea of Auburn players and realizing what we’d just witnessed.
Silver— To me, it took on a life of its own. I live in New York City, and came back Monday morning. I was at an East Side appointment at a place that’s very non-traditional SEC, probably nobody cares about it. I was in a physical therapy office, and all they did was talk about the Iron Bowl.
And the [CBS] PR guy says we want you to do a couple of radio shows. There’s a radio show from Canada. Canada? And I think the old saying “the stars aligned.” .
Lundquist— I have a photo that Auburn sent to me. It’s a large one and it’s on my office wall. And it’s of Chris Davis storming down the sideline, and the Auburn coaching staff and a couple of the student managers are jumping and they’re suspended in the air. And Chris was kind enough to sign that for me. I’ve got that in my office in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Silver— The fact that it was these two highly ranked teams with a berth in the SEC Championship— and eventually the National Championship Game— on the line, the rivalry that is the Iron Bowl, the incredible way that it ended, the stakes, the fact that the home team won.
Lundquist— We did Georgia-Tennessee earlier this season and we had two Hail Marys in the last 10 seconds. I’ve never seen that before. Ever. And they were both brilliant plays and some luck involved.
And I was at a banquet with Vince Dooley after that, and he asked me if I’ve ever seen anything like that. And I said “well no, not two Hail Marys in 10 seconds,” but it didn’t have the impact that Auburn had. That was number one against number four. And the bitter rivalry. So it had a little bit of everything.
Wolfson— I’ve been a part of so many incredible SEC games, but certainly none like that. It’s a memorable one. It’s right up there with the best finish I’ve ever been a part of.
Silver— It went beyond a sports phenomenon and became a pop phenomenon. And for probably the length of that week, or at least half the week, it really expanded outside the realm of just sports. I’m very lucky to have bared witness to it and been part of it.
Wolfson— Everyone after that Villanova shot asked me how it compared to the Iron Bowl. Everyone that understands college football, that knows the SEC, that was what I got. And it was right up there. Right up there with that. And that, I don’t get to do the interview after. It’s the championship game and Jim Nantz does it. So for me, it was a little bit of a different feeling like you’re not rushing the field. I actually had to interview the losers after that.
Those two moments— and it’s hard not to put the Super Bowl up there, because for me that was a personal best— but the two biggest games I’ve ever been a part of in terms of the finishes were those two.
Lundquist— [After the game] I got several calls from friends in the business who said “okay, where would that finish rank in your list of top five events that you’ve been a part of?”
And my automatic answer was, it ties for second. Well my god, what’s first? And I said for me, it’s probably a generational thing, but I got the call on Jack Nicholson’s birdie putt on 17. And that’s always going to be for me at the top of my list. I so admired the man who made the putt, and he was five months older than me. And I’m never going to let that go.
Anyway, I said what’s second? Well, I’ll give it a tie for second with the Duke-Kentucky game and Tiger’s chip shot. So it ties for second.
Well the next morning, I went online and I went to the New York Post’s sports page. And Mike Vaccaro— who’s an excellent, excellent writer— and his column that Sunday was he listed the eight reasons why the Iron Bowl in 2013 provided the greatest finish in the history of sports. And I looked at it and read it and I thought, well man, I better reassess where I rank that thing then.
I don’t know if I agree with Mike to this day that it was the greatest finish in the history of sports, but I certainly believe it’s the greatest finish in the history of college football.