125 years of Auburn football
Auburn and football. The two go together seamlessly, as if one could hardly exist without the other. They could, of course, but neither would be the same. Deep rivalries, time-honored traditions and legendary athletes have stamped the Auburn tiger paw upon the college football history books. The Auburn Tigers have played 1242 games, racking up an overall record of 759-436-47.
When George Petrie assembled the school’s first football team in 1892, he hardly could have known what legacy he was creating. His team’s first game was played against Georgia in Atlanta, beginning the “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.” During that game, an eagle rescued during the Civil War broke free and soared around the field, exciting fans and inspiring the players. This “War Eagle” quickly became the school’s battle cry and an integral part of the school’s history.
John Heisman, the namesake for the Heisman Trophy, and Mike Donahue, who left with a record of 106-35-5, are some of Auburn’s legendary coaches. Shug Jordan coached the Tigers from 1951-1975, leading the Tigers to 176 victories – the most in Auburn football history. His 1957 team finished 10-0 and won the National Championship. He also coached quarterback Pat Sullivan, one of the school’s three Heisman Trophy winners and eventual Tiger assistant coach. Pat Dye, the namesake for the Tigers’ field, led Auburn to four SEC Championships, and he became the first coach in the SEC to win three consecutive championships. During Dye's tenure as Athletic Director at Auburn, he helped permanently move the Iron Bowl to the home fields instead of continuing to play at Legion Field in Birmingham.
One of the biggest rivalries is the Auburn and Alabama rivalry, and these games are some of the most memorable in Auburn history. A game cemented in Auburn history is the 1982 game - more commonly known as ’Bo Over The Top’. Auburn came into the game as underdogs, but that was not going to stop the Tigers. Running back Bo Jackson was just a freshman, and this was his debut game against the Crimson Tide after turning down an offer to play in Tuscaloosa. Sitting at fourth and goal, Auburn quarterback Randy Campbell handed the ball to Bo, and he threw his body above the Crimson Tide defense just enough to stretch across the goal line to win the game for the Tigers.
The 'Kick Six' game from 2013 will also be a game to remember for many years to come. After arguing to put one second back on the clock in an attempt to prevent the game from going into overtime, Alabama head coach Nick Saban allowed his kicker to attempt a 57 yard field goal, but the kick fell short, right into the hands of Auburn’s Chris Davis. He ran the ball 109 yards for a touchdown to win the game and send the Auburn tigers to the SEC Championship game. Nearly all of the 90,000 fans in attendance swarmed the field to celebrate, as many listening on the radio can remember the sports announcer saying, “They aren't going to keep them off the field tonight.”
Current head coach, Gus Malzahn, has left his footprint in the Auburn football history books as well. He started at as Auburn as the offensive coordinator and eventually became head coach. After the Tigers failed to win a single conference game in 2012, he led the 2013 team to play in the National Championship game. Malzahn was named SEC Coach of the Year and AP College Football Coach of the Year.
This past year, Coach Malzahn and the Tigers shocked the nation by defeating two No. 1 teams in a matter of three weeks and clinching the SEC West. The Tigers are never counted out of contention and are season after season prove themselves a force to be reckoned with.