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Auburn Football 101: Historical Knowledge That Every Incoming Fan Needs To Know About Auburn

Fullback James Owens carries the ball against Miss State in 1972.

By War Eagle Atlanta

I'll admit it. I didn't know squat about Auburn football before I first came to campus in September, 1985. And as I pulled up into the parking lot of my first residence, CDV Extension, I wondered who this Bo fella was, whose name was painted on most of the windows facing Wire Road, and just exactly where did everyone want BO to GO... I had never seen an Auburn game on TV, and didn't really follow college football at all. I really was just a naive 17 year old who was about to get a crash-course in the Auburn Tigers.

My education commenced a week later when I walked into Jordan-Hare for the first time at the Ole Miss game, which was actually the 4th game of the year and the third at home. Back then, the season started at least three weeks before the fall quarter began, so if you didn't already make plans to attend before, you'd probably miss those first few games. Classes started on September 26th, and by that time, we were ranked #1 in the country, going into that weekend's game with Tennessee. That match was the first Auburn game I ever watched on TV, but it was a letdown, as we got destroyed in Knoxville. My disappointment was great, but the excitement of going to my first real game the next week was greater.

That Ole Miss game was a night game, and I went with my roommates to watch us blow-out the Rebels. By simply walking through those gates at Jordan-Hare, I became a member of the Auburn family and would start my transformation to being a true blue Tiger fan. It wasn't long after that I started seeking information about my team, but it was hard to come by. Books were about the only source, but it wasn't practical. I didn't know about media guides or pre-season magazines and there was no Internet, so coming by information on the histories of our rivalries and the conference was really hard.

If only there had been some orientation or course offered, some instruction on the history of the Auburn program, I would have sat through five hours of drop and add to have taken it. But in today's information age, there's no excuse why we can't educate our newest fans. So today, Track 'Em Tigers offers a brief online course, Auburn Football 101, which will give every budding Tiger all the historic background they need to be the most informed Tiger freshman they can be. And don't worry, we're not even going to throw a pop quiz at the end.

Auburn has had many names, but we have always been called Auburn. If others want to call us A.P.I. or Alabama Polytechnic, they may think that they're slighting us, but it's who we were. We played the inaugural football game in the deep south, against Georgia, in Atlanta's Piedmont Park in 1892--a rivalry that still exists to this day. Actually, for most of the 20th century, we belonged to the two oldest rivalries in the deep south, with Georgia, and with Georgia Tech. After Tech failed to renew the series in 1987, the Georgia series took the top place.

Auburn was a founding member of the nation's first athletic conference, the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic conference, (SIAA) in 1895. We had only existed as a team prior to that for four years. In 1922, most members of the SIAA left to form the Southern conference. Not long after that, in 1933, another defection ushered in the Southeastern Conference. With limited exception, the current teams in today's SEC are those which came from the Southern Conference and the SIAA. Many say that the SEC is the toughest football conference in all the land, and according to College Football Data Warehouse (CFBDW), it's a fact.

Auburn is ranked 13th in all-time wins in college football, with 683. We're only 10 games behind 12th place LSU and 31 games behind 11th place Georgia. Five SEC teams are ranked in the top 13 for all-time wins.

Auburn has the 4th highest winning percentage of conference games in the SEC, behind Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia, respectively, and the 5th highest winning percentage of all games. Of all current teams in the SEC, Auburn has a winning record against every one, save two: Alabama, who we're 5 games back, and LSU, who we're 3 games back. This feat is in spite of the fact that for decades, we played many SEC opponents at neutral sites, as opposed to a home-and-home. We played Alabama and Tennessee in Birmingham, Georgia in Columbus, and Georgia Tech (formerly in the SEC) in Atlanta.

Auburn, according to CFBDB, has the 5th toughest all-time strength of schedule rating in all of college football. Curiously though, we only have the second toughest rating in the SEC, with Georgia claiming #2 all-time. This result is primarily derived from the tough SEC schedule, but you can probably attribute it to the top 3 historic teams in the SEC, Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia, being on our schedule year-in and year-out for decades.

In the Iron Bowl against Alabama, Auburn has arguably the most intense and bitter rivalry in all of college football. The game is legendary not only inside the state, but throughout the nation, too. And if you take into account the historic rankings of both teams, as I did in an thread earlier this year, you have some facts that lead you to the same conclusion. Alabama leads the series, 38-33-1, but we've won the last six in a row, our longest winning streak since the year Bear Bryant came to Tuscaloosa. Interestingly, Auburn had a winning record against Alabama prior to Bryant, and since he retired, but didn't fare too well in the 25 years during his tenure.

Auburn players have been awarded two Heisman Trophies, with Pat Sullivan in 1971 and Bo Jackson in 1985. That's two more than any other school in the state, and is tied for 2nd in the SEC with Georgia, behind Florida's three awards. The trivia question that any Auburn fan must be able to answer is: So far, what's the only school that John Heisman coached at to have won a Heisman trophy. The answer, naturally, is us, in spite of Heisman also coaching at such schools as Georgia Tech and Clemson. Heisman came to coach Auburn for five years, starting in 1895 when we first joined the SIAA.

Auburn has won one legitimate national championship, the 1957 AP title, but has been recognized a few more times by lessor selectors. If we counted national championships like they do over in Tuscaloosa, we could claim six, but thankfully, we take the higher moral ground and don't embellish our claims.

So there you have it--all the historical information you need for a solid foundation for being a true Auburn Tiger football fan. If you thought I was going to teach you some cheers and the meaning of War Eagle, then you were wrong. That's what freshman orientation is for. Besides, when you finally do learn the secret of War Eagle, they ask you to keep it to yourself and not tell strangers...

So, no pop quiz at the end, but we are going to take attendance during this course. For the rest of the semester, you have to come to Track Em Tigers M W F for three hours credit, or all week for five. Class dismissed!