The Temple Of Greatness
“I am Ozymandias, king of kings. Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair.”
It seems like a funny way to start an article for this league. Ozymandias has always been one of my favorite poems, and the subject of this poem reminds me a bit of the premise of this piece. If you aren’t familiar with the poem, the above inscription in on a monument meant to strike fear into the hearts of all that saw it the day it was chiseled into stone by King Ramses II. In the time of the poems writing, all that is left of these mighty works is that monument, and a desolate wasteland around it. At a time, it meant something, as history passed, that meaning lessened considerably. But when it was freshly chiseled into the granite base of that monument, it was as true as true could be. This is the story of Blake Moon, the CFSL’s first legitimate superstar.
Season One was very different than the league as we see it today. As many of you may know, there are only two remaining AD’s still in their position as this is being written, myself and Tyler Hoyt (Nighthawk). Star levels were different in that the overall of the player was based on three top attributes, and all had the same overall cap. There were no such things as packs in Season One. You finished the way you started. I had no idea what I was getting into, nor did I know what an obsession this league would turn into for me. At that point, I knew I needed a 5 star quarterback. I had just signed my first 5 star, a defensive end named Shane Masters. Coming off of this win, I contacted a Quarterback that had aspirations of being a 5 star pocket passer according to his profile. It also mentioned that he came from football royalty, so it seemed like a great grab. Blake Moon agreed to sign with Auburn University. He was our first quarterback.
Moon was quiet for the most part in Season One, which is odd looking back. In our week one game, the first game in league history, Moon led a comeback drive to defeat the Iowa Hawkeyes late in the fourth quarter. I had no idea what I was doing, game plan wise, but I was very happy with the result. Despite being a self described pocket passer, Moon was a scrambler if ever there was one. His top three attributes all revolved around speed. The season was up and down, we lost several games by a few scores, again, game planning was very much a new science at the time, and we were hovering around .500. Meanwhile, Boise State was running away with games. Adric Berry, their dual threat qb, was lighting up defenses around the league. It was somewhere after the mid point of the season that a switch flipped.
Having already lost to Hawaii once that season, a game in which Moon was lost to an injury (yes, kids, we used to have those) Auburn headed in the Hawaii game needing a win. I had gone to my third playbook, and with some help had found a new set of offensive numbers to try. Auburn’s offense went insane. The Catalyst for this was very much the play of Moon. After beating Hawaii, Moon would go on to score 15 touchdowns in two games. He would pull out a 3 overtime win against Iowa, and with some help from that same Hawkeye team in the final week of the Season, Auburn had made the playoffs. Blake Moon, in the meantime, had skyrocketed to the top of the Offensive Player of the year rankings in many people’s eyes, solely based on his play during the back half of the season. He would win that award, in a close vote against Berry, and then it got interesting.
Berry had been a stud all season. Boise had been dominant. Many felt that Moon winning the award was a case of recency bias. Berry told Moon that he wasn’t better, that he just got hot at the right time. Moon, who hadn’t spoken much up until this point, stated that “Moon thinks Berry is trash” and the went on to say that he would prove it in the playoffs. I’ll be damned if he didn’t win that game for us. Another late drive, a timely defensive stop, and we were in the final. We would go on to lose that game to Notre Dame by 10 points, and Moon would congratulate the Irish in league chat.
The off-season was full of buzz about whether Moon would be able to repeat his performance in season two, a season that was going to be very different with the introduction of upgrade packs, and possibly the best class of quarterbacks we’ve ever seen. Moon received his OPOY trophy, and posted a picture of it next to two giant fuzzy dice and a hat with a white tiger on it. At this point, Moon only spoke in third person. When questioned about the staging of his trophy photo, Moon replied “Do not question the placement of Moon’s objects”. We were now dealing with a different animal. The quiet guy was gone.
Auburn started season 2 well enough going into a week four match up with undefeated Michigan and their dynamo of a quarterback in Javon Mack. At this point, Moon was claiming to arrive to games in “The Temple of Greatness”. I’m still not positive what that was supposed to mean, but I pictured a flying pyramid or something. I know it had a gift shop. Moon began to go back and forth with Mack before this game. “Michigan is trash, Moon has spoken” was a common quote. Mack gave as good as he got, but the build up to that game changed how trash talk worked in this league. Auburn vs. Michigan in Season Two was the most viewed game on Twitch we had ever had. Auburn won, much of it based on Moon and his ability to extend the play with his legs, and Michigan took it’s first loss. I learned a lot about game planning that week. Moon, after the game, said “Moon respects Michigan, but Mack is still trash”, Mack would win offensive player of the year that season.
The long and short of it is this, Blake Moon continued to talk the talk, even as Auburn fell further behind other teams personnel wise. We’re going into a must win conference game, and Moon is posting that he is “bathing with Tigers in the ocean, and flying with his War Eagles.” You either loved him or you hated him, but he always got a reaction. Auburn would finish 3rd in the SEC that season, and lose the Bowl game to Tennessee.
Season Three saw the emergence of two new SEC powerhouses, Clemson and Texas. Auburn had the luxury of playing Clemson in week one. Moon came out on fire in chat, saying that Clemson had “false Tigers” and the the Temple would give Clemson players discounts after the game. That game, Moon came out on fire. He got Auburn a 21-point lead in the third quarter, but two turnovers, both by Moon, let Clemson get back into it. Clemson would go on to win that game, the biggest comeback in league history at the time, and Auburn would struggle to stay around 500.
Blake Moon left Auburn after his junior year. The days of him being the most feared quarterback in the fourth quarter were gone. To be frank, the league had passed him by. I was sad when he left in a way, I mean, he was my first quarterback. I had a jersey with his name and number on it. Moon was, for a time, the biggest name in the CFSL. He was the guy that talked and backed it up. He made you mad, then he did what he said he was gonna do. He was like a shooting star that lit up this league for a short time, then vanished. He put me on the map.
Blake Moon, like Ramses II, was for a time the King of the CFSL. That time is over now. Somewhere out there, a temple that used to arrive at Jordan-Hare on game days sits abandoned. But the words “Moon is Greatness” still have a ring of truth to them. He couldn’t play in today’s league with the attributes he had back then, not at the level he did. But in that specific time frame, Blake Moon was the guy that you had to measure yourself against if you wanted to prove yourself as a quarterback. He was a great trash talker, an instigator, and he was often hilarious, whether he meant to be or not.
He was also my QB, he was an Auburn Tiger, and he was the guy that pushed me to be the AD I am today, although not in the conventional way. I wanted to make him look as good as he was before. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but I learned from it. I’ve been able to help others because of it. I’m still at Auburn trying to get that first championship. There is also a dead patch of grass outside the Stadium where the Temple of Greatness used to land for our Games. I won’t let them replant it.
“Behold my works, ye mighty, and Despair” – Ozymandias