Mike Panza, president of the Orange County Auburn Club
ORANGE CO., CA (WSFA) -
The Orange County, California area has a strong Auburn Alumni club. During this turnaround season for the Tigers, local fans have watched their alma mater make it all the way to the biggest college football game of the year, and it's being played in their own backyard.
Before Mike Panza, the president of the Orange County Auburn Club, headed off to Auburn University, he attended and graduated from Jeff Davis High School in Montgomery. Panza's father, Colonel Joe Panza, still lives in Montgomery.
Panza says Auburn fans in the area always get together and watch the game at a local wings place. As the 2013 season progressed, those gatherings grew along with the excitement.
When they started realizing that Auburn had a shot at the national championship, there wasn't a fan who could have been more ecstatic than those who live here, knowing their Tigers were coming here to play for it all just a few miles away from their home.
"We didn't allow ourselves to dream that big," Panza admitted, "or I didn't, at least, until it actually happened." Now, he says to host the national championship game is a dream come true. "It's very surreal."
The local wings place where the faithful usually watch the game? Well, they don't expect any Auburn fans to be there Monday. They're pretty much all going to the game. They don't want to miss a chance to see their team play in the town where they live.