Campbell states Auburn's case


NEW ORLEANS -- Going back to two-a-days last summer, Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell filled the roll as the unquestioned senior leader of the Tiger football team. If any of his teammates had a problem, they always came to him.

"And we always got it solved," Campbell said.

So Tuesday morning, less than 12 hours after his team's 16-13 win over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl, in his last official press conference as an Auburn football player, Campbell set out to solve the biggest problem of all.

Getting a 13-0 SEC football team a share of the national championship.

He didn't waste any time getting down to business. After coach Tommy Tuberville finished his initial comments, Campbell used his opening statement to start making his case.

Without even being asked, he began, "I think the main reason we deserve a shot at the national title is ..."

He started by praising Virginia Tech, which almost beat USC in its season-opener.

"They should have won that game," Campbell said. "And you look at our game yesterday and we dominated them more than any other team this year."

Campbell then went on the attack. First questioning the merits of Oklahoma.

"Oklahoma State should have beaten Oklahoma. Texas A&M should have beaten them," Campbell said. "And look what they did in their bowl games."

Oklahoma State and Texas A&M lost a combined 71-14 in their bowl games. Texas A&M's loss came at the hands of Tennessee, a team the Tigers beat twice, once in Knoxville.

Campbell then attacked the top ranked team in the country, USC. Not only should they have lost to Tech, Campbell said, but they nearly lost to California as well.

"And you look at California's bowl game against Texas Tech," Campbell said. "Texas Tech dominated the whole game."

The entire rant, completely unprovoked, lasted some three minutes and thirty-five seconds and even included statistics. Like the Tiger defense only giving up 20 points one time this year, while USC and Oklahoma gave up 20 or more multiple times.

His arguments were strong. They made sense. A 13-0 team from the SEC -- a team that beat four top 10 teams should claim one of the two major national championships -- be it from the Associated Press or the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll. Instead, Auburn is likely to settle for being tabbed national champions by a lesser-known organization.

Tuberville joked Tuesday night that he was going to call Golf Digest and ask if they would vote him No. 1. On Wednesday, his words took a backseat to those of his quarterback.

"He doesn't need an agent, does he?" Tuberville said. "I think he's going to be just fine."

Campbell, the Miller-Digby Award winner ad the Sugar Bowl's most valuable player, wasn't worried about ruffling feathers or sounding like he was complaining. His concern was solely with getting his point across to a room filled with media members, at least a handful of whom he hoped held AP votes.

"This was my last opportunity to make my case," Campbell said. "I'm the senior spokesman. So this is something I had to say."

Campbell said he remembered back in November, when he kept hearing that if Auburn beat then-No. 8 Georgia, they'd get a chance to play for the national championship. "Then we won that game and they had another excuse for us," he said.

Then it became beat Alabama, which the Tigers did. Then beat Tennessee for the second time in two months, which they did. Every time a challenge was put in front of them, Campbell said, they met it. They didn't fail once. And yet there were no national championship trophies to carry off the field Tuesday night.

"At Auburn, we have to be our own lawyers," Campbell said. "I just want people to understand. Don't be blind about the entire situation. Just be fair."

Both Tuberville and Campbell said they supported a four-team playoff in which No. 1 plays No. 4, No. 2 plays No. 3 and the winners would meet. This year, for example, Auburn would play the Oklahoma-USC winner.

"It doesn't take a lot of studying. You don't need to be a rocket scientist. It's just obvious," Campbell said. "Anybody could see we need one more game to settle this."

But such a move is unlikely anytime soon, especially with a 12th regular season game likely to be approved. Tuberville also suggested that the football polls don't start until the middle of the season. Many believe the only reason Auburn isn't playing in tonight's BCS Championship is because it started the season No. 17, while USC and Oklahoma started No. 1 and No. 2. Tuberville also lobbied for the 61 voting members of the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll to reveal their votes the final two weeks of the season.

"Voting is a privilege," Tuberville said. "And if you're not going to reveal your vote, you shouldn't be given the right to vote."

No matter what happens, no matter who picks Auburn as its national champion, Campbell said he knows he someday will have a 2005 National Championship ring. And he'll wear it with pride.

"I don't care -- I'll show it to USC, show it to Oklahoma, whoever," he said. "They can show me theirs and I'll show them mine. And we should get our own trophy, too."

And perhaps that would solve his problem.

Wayne Drehs is a staff writer at ESPN.com. He can be reached at wayne.drehs@espn3.com.