NEWPORT BEACH, CA (WSFA) - The prized Coaches Trophy, the crystal football that represents the BCS National Champion, has been in the State of Alabama for four years. Auburn fans are hoping it will come back for the fifth year after Monday's game against the Florida State Seminoles.
For the past year, the trophy has been traveling the country for photo ops with fans who want to see what the champions get to permanently display. Now, it's nearing the end of its journey, making its way to Newport Beach, California. It will soon be in the hands of either Auburn's Gus Malzahn or FSU's Jimbo Fisher.
The trophy is on display at a museum right around the corner from the media hotel at the Newport Sports Museum.
While the trophy is unique, the museum has an impressive story, itself. Along with the tens of thousands of pieces of memorabilia, some Auburn, there's a lot more to it than just collections and displays.
The unassuming sports museum sits in an huge, upscale hotel and shopping district in Newport Beach. Once inside, it's a sports fan's dream. There are pieces from as far back as the 1800s, jerseys worn by some of the greats in almost every imaginable sport both college and professional.
All pieces are from a personal collection from the museum's founder and director, John Hamilton. He now has a collection of over 10,000 pieces. While taking time for an interview, Hamilton starts pointing out pieces of the collection, like the signed 1953 All-American football team just a few feet away. It's the piece that Hamilton says started it all. He was just 12-year-old.
Among the football treasures, footballs signed by all three of Auburn's Heisman Trophy winners: Pat Sullivan (1971), Bo Jackson (1985) and Cam Newton (2010). There are also familiar-numbered 34 jerseys that belonged to Jackson during his time at Auburn and the LA Raiders.
But Hamilton says despite it all, it's not the memorabilia, the prized collections, the pieces of sports history that are important. To him, the museum has an even bigger purpose.
"The collection is just a platform to get kids here," he explains. "We bring in phenomenal athletes who, Heisman Trophy winners, Hall-of-Famers, lots of big time people, talking to kids, convincing them to stay in school, to stay off drugs, to stay out of gangs."
Hamilton says he wants to change lives. In the facility's 16 years, lots of lives have been changed because of the mentoring and relationships fostered inside the building.
For fans who might be staying in Newport when they arrive in town, the museum is open from 10-5 every day and admission is free. The founder says they have never and will never charge admission.
ON THE WEB: The Newport Sports Museum