It's funny how your perspective can change. After all the success of the past 10 years, you wouldn't think Auburn fans would get excited about the bowl opportunities of a 7-3 team. I guess the old saying is true, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." After a one year absence from the bowl scene, all of them look more inviting this year.
We are in the heart of bowl projection season and that means every national web site has a different projected path for bowl eligible teams. Today I looked at three projections for Auburn and came away with three different bowls.
The most interesting is over at al.com where one writer insists that an Auburn win over Georgia almost guarantees them a spot in the Cotton Bowl. In case you forgot, this is no longer your granddaddy's Cotton Bowl. For the first time, this year's contest will be played in the new billion dollar Cowboy Stadium in Dallas. Maybe there is more than bragging rights on the line this weekend.
Other projected paths show Auburn heading to the Outback, Liberty or Chick-Fil-A Bowls. While Dallas would be a cool stop, my vote is the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta. It's close to home, it's played inside and you always get a great ACC opponent. My guess is all these projections are not worth the paper they are written on. Two blowout losses could land all of us in Legion Field hell eating bad pizza. But let's choose to remain optimistic.
It's hard to not think of Georgia's Vince Dooley and Auburn's Pat Dye when reminiscing about the Auburn-Georgia rivalry. For those of us middle age, this was the golden era of the rivalry. From 1980 through the end of the decade, there wasn't a better annual game than this one. The list of characters was a who's who of college greats with names like: Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson, Buck Belue, Brent Fullwood, Terry Hoague, Lionel James, Lindsey Scott and Tracy Rocker. The list could go on forever.
It's hard to believe that Dooley has been gone from the sidelines for more than 20 seasons and Dye is not far behind. Even after all these years, I still miss that cough of Pat Dye during his Thursday evening radio call-in show. It was must listen radio in the days before the internet.
Speaking of radio, I still haven't gotten over the loss of Jim Fyffe and Larry Munson doing Saturday afternoon games. Maybe I'm just getting older, but I doubt we'll ever see two greats like Munson and Fyffe again. How blessed we were to be able to listen. Auburn vs. Georgia will never be the same.
While the Iron Bowl may be the most important game of the season for Auburn fans, for 20 Auburn players Saturday is as big as it gets. Those players call the Peach state home and there's nothing they'd like more than to snap Georgia's three game winning streak. When Auburn takes the field, look for Georgia natives Mario Fannin (Hampton) and Darvin Adams (Kennesaw) to have a little extra bounce in their step. Speaking of Adams, he needs just two touchdown catches to pass Auburn great Terry Beasley for the single season touchdown reception record.
We've talked all week about the unique relationship Auburn and Georgia share. It would not be a stretch to say that both programs owe much, if not most of their success to those who graduated from the other school. Here's a list of this season's inbreeding courtesy of Auburn Sports Information:
Georgia assistant head coach/defensive line/recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner and UGA offensive line coach Stacy Searels were teammates with Auburn defensive line coach Tracy Rocker at Auburn. Garner and Rocker both played on the defensive line during the 1985-88 seasons, while Searels was an offensive lineman from 1984-87.
Garner starred at nose guard at Auburn alongside Rocker, earning All-SEC honors as a senior while Rocker won the Lombardi and Outland Trophies. Garner also served in various capacities at Auburn (recruiting coordinator/tight ends coach/ assistant strength and conditioning coach) from 1990-95.
Searels was a first-team All-American in 1987 and a two-time first-team All-SEC selection, before working as a G.A. coach at Auburn from 1992-93. He later coached with Rocker at Cincinnati in 2002, instructing the offensive line while Rocker coached the defensive line...
Georgia defensive co-coordinator/linebackers coach John Jancek coached the defensive line at Central Florida during Auburn head coach Gene Chizik's first season as UCF's defensive coordinator in 1998...
Auburn Football Operation Coordinator Scott Fountain started his college coaching career as an offensive graduate assistant at Florida State from 1994-96, while Georgia head coach Mark Richt was the offensive coordinator for the Seminoles. UGA tight ends coach John Lilly was also a G.A. coach at FSU in 1996 after serving as a videographer in 1995...
Georgia associate head strength and conditioning coach Keith Gray was a strength and conditioning graduate assistant at Auburn from 1997-99.
Auburn takes on Georgia Saturday night at 6 p.m. CT from Samford Stadium in Athens, Georgia. The Bulldogs enter the game as four-point favorites. The game will be carried live by ESPN 2. Announcers for the Deuce are Mark Jones and Bob Davie - God help us. War Eagle and have a great weekend!