Auburn and Auburn Football

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You just have to know Auburn - the Town, the University, and the Tradition - to truly understand Auburn Football and what it really means. Let me try to explain . . .

My earliest memories of Auburn are from about 1955. I remember walking down College Street from my aunt's house, having a lemonade and grilled-cheese sandwich at Toomer's Drug Store lunch counter, and then going to the Tiger Theatre (across the street) and seeing "Gone With The Wind." I have very fond memories of summers in Auburn. This is why I understand what it means to be not only a fan of Auburn, Alabama, but of the Auburn Tigers!

Auburn Football has one of the most storied histories in not only the "Deep South" but in all of college football. We will start with the oldest rivalry in Deep South Football and in college athletics. Auburn and Georgia first played on February 20, 1892, in Piedmont Park in Atlanta! Since 1898, the Auburn Tigers have played the Georgia Bulldogs every year! That is 111 contests total (Auburn did not field a football team in the war year of 1943), with Auburn leading the series 53-50-8. Another first for Auburn football was the Tigers' first bowl trip. The Bacardi Bowl is the only bowl game ever played outside of the United States. On New Years Day in 1937, Auburn and Villanova fought to a 7-7 tie in Havana, Cuba!

Another unique element of Auburn Football for many years has been where the games were played. Auburn's chief rivals, Georgia, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, and Alabama would not come and play in "The Loveliest Village on the Plains". Auburn's "home" games with those schools were played in Atlanta, Montgomery, Mobile, Columbus, Macon, Savannah, or Birmingham! Finally in 1960 things began to change. In 1960, Georgia came to Auburn and lost 9-6. In 1970, Georgia Tech came South to Auburn and lost 31-7. In 1974, Tennessee came to Auburn and lost 21-0. And the Alabama Crimson Tide came to Auburn for the first time in 1974, losing 30-20. These victories proved that Auburn could finally enjoy a "Home" game!

Is doesn't matter if you call them the Tigers, The Plainsmen, or the War Eagles, they all mean the same . . . Auburn! The "Tiger" is both the nickname and the mascot! "Plainsmen" refers to the city of Auburn, the "Loveliest Village on the Plain;" both references come from the poem by Oliver Goldsmith (the "Deserted Village," published in 1770) "War Eagle" is both the Battle Cry and the greeting.

War Eagle, of course, is based on a legend that ties a wounded eagle to a wounded confederate solider. The bird is rescued by the solider. He raises the eagle while he is a student at Auburn and ultimately becomes a faculty member. The two were there that day that Auburn and Georgia played in Piedmont Park. When Auburn scored the first touchdown the old eagle broke free and soared above the field! Auburn people looked up at the familiar figure and cried "War Eagle". At the end of the game the old eagle collapsed and died, he had given his all for Auburn victory. The eagle may have died, but his spirit lives on in the hearts of Auburn fans everywhere.

Tradition and pride continue to "fuel" Auburn football. John Heisman, the legendary coach for which college football's top honor is named, was Auburn's coach from 1895-1899 and posted a 12-4-2 record. Auburn is the only school where Heisman coached to have a Heisman Trophy winner. Auburn has two: quarterback Pat Sullivan won the award in 1971 and tailback Bo Jackson won the honor in 1985.

The very long tradition of Auburn Football includes national championships, undefeated seasons, and many, many household names in college football to be remembered, but this is only the beginning! Whether we win or lose, Auburn tradition and pride will always be felt at AUBURN and in the famous cry: "Waaarrrrr Eagles!"

Freddie Brister is a huge fan of the SEC and the Auburn Tigers. After 25 years of coaching high school football, he now writes often about his favorite past time, college football.
You can check out his Auburn Tigers merchandise at  www.sportsfantreasures.com.

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