Since the last National Championship Game for Auburn was 1957 (and I was born in 1965) it is fair to say that this is a once in a life-time opportunity. Without Cam Newton (or Nick Saban as our coach) it is hard to imagine this ever happening again.
If anyone is absorbing any real damage, it's head coach George O'Leary, whose critics can now add "probation" to the pile of logs fueling the fire under his office chair. UCF took a chance on O'Leary after he was infamously fired from Notre Dame after two days on the job for falsifying his resumé in 2001, and has been repaid with the burden of a mediocre record, a wrongful death suit following the death of a player during an unusually strenuous offseason workout, the collapse of a second player during another workout less than a year later (that player, running back Brandon Davis, recovered to contribute in two games last fall) and a petty feud with the local media. During O'Leary's otherwise successful stint at Georgia Tech in the nineties, the Yellow Jackets were cited by the NCAA for playing ineligible players, and an offensive lineman accused the coach of siccing four defensive linemen on him as punishment for missing too many blocks.