1, 779 miles. That's how far it is from Sierra Vista, AZ to Griffin, GA along the route my father and I took. I graduated from my Officer Basic Course on Wednesday morning and we set out that afternoon with flags flying and car magnets on the side of the truck. My father flew out to see my graduation and then rode back with me. We arrived back in Griffin on Friday afternoon. On Saturday morning we back tracked a bit and returned to the Plains for the 2005 Iron Bowl.
I managed to make it home on the four day weekend of Labor Day to see the opening game against Georgia Tech that year. That game left a sour taste in all our mouths. It was before we discovered how good Kenny Irons could be and Brandon Cox was left to throw the ball way too often. The rest of the games I watched on TV out west. I watched the nightmare of John Vaughn's missed field goals against LSU lying on my bed in pain from the 18.7 mile road march I had done that morning to earn the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge. I think I yelled and screamed so loud at the end of the UGA game that I annoyed all of my neighbors. My graduation date came in just enough time for me to be able to return home for the Iron Bowl, though.
This homecoming was not as special as the one two years later would be. But this was the last time I was in Auburn before that South Florida game. I went on active duty with my unit in early January, just under two months after the end of this game. But what a game it was for Auburn fans. It had the hallmarks of the Tuberville era: build a pretty decent lead and then sit on it. Park the bus so to speak, as I've learned from soccer over the past few weeks. Except Auburn didn't exactly park the bus. It was more like parking a tank and continuing an active defense. Eleven times Brodie Croyle went down in the arms of an Auburn defender. Twice on the first drive alone. By the end of the game you could hear the pity in Verne and Gary's voices. Thanks to the miracles of modern technology, and because I'm just that nice, you can watch all eleven along with Auburn's highlights right here!
That may have been the most fun I've had at an Auburn game from start to finish. Any game where the defense is that dominant is fun, but to see it done to Alabama (and a pretty good Alabama team at that for the Shula years) made it even better. It still had the typical Tubs drama late in the game, though. Sitting on those leads when they weren't that large usually led to some heart ache before the games ended.
The 2005 season gets lost in the years of great teams in the past decade, but it is definitely one of those "what could have been" seasons. As a historian I'm averse to the discussion of counterfactuals, but the two losses could have swung to wins with just a few minor changes. If that happens, then maybe it's Auburn and USC meeting in the Rose Bowl with Texas left out. Or maybe Auburn gets left out again. But that's the way of college football. A great season overall is derailed with a few mistakes. Barry Alvarez's last Wisconsin team would go on to defeat a very sluggish Auburn in the bowl game. The clock moved forward another year. But this was still one of my all time favorite games to attend. It was just so much fun. From the first sack to the victory cigar I had at Toomer's Corner while the band played the Reverse Rammer Jammer and we all just had a great time.
I've seen this game mentioned in the comments of the previous articles, but what are others' thoughts on it? And what's #7 on your own list?