Auburn Pre-season Marked by Players Receiving National Recognition

By Posted on: July 11th, 2014 in Football, News 1 Comment »
14O2O7.AuSt.70- Nick runs over Tenn. - Auburn media, anthony hall

    Auburn Quarterback Nick Marshall continues to garner pre-season honors. (photo:Anthony Hall,Auburn media)

The days immediately following July 4th celebrations are always an exciting time of the year for college football fanatics. It’s a time when you can begin to tell the long off season is winding down and college football is just around the corner. While the second week of July brings the excitement of SEC Media Days, the first week marks the announcements of college football award watch list.

And just this week Auburn has had seven Tigers named to 10 different preseason honors.

* On Monday, Wide Receiver Sammie Coates and Quarterback Nick Marshall were named to the Maxwell Award Watch List, which goes to college football’s top college player. Sammie caught 42 passes for 902 yards and seven touchdowns last season and Nick threw for 1,976 yards and rushed for 1,068 more during 2013.

* Also on Monday came news that (Star) Safety Robenson Therezie is on the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award, which goes to the top defender. Robenson made 57 tackles and led the team with four interceptions.

* Kris Frost was named to the Butkus Award which goes to the nation’s top linebacker. Frost had 59 tackles last season, including six for a loss.

* On Tuesday C.J. Uzomah was named to the Mackey Award list, which goes to the nation’s top tight end. Uzomah caught 11 passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns last year in a run heavy offense.

* The same day, Center Reese Dismukes was once again honored as one of the nation’s best centers when he was place on the Rimington Trophy list. It was the third consecutive year for Reese to be so honored. Last season he was a Rimington finalists.

* Thursday saw Nick Marshall named as’s conference pick for the Player of the Year in the SEC.

* Also Thursday brought big news when Defensive Tackle Gabe Wright joined Reese Dismukes and Offensive Guard Alex Kozan on the Outland Trophy Watch List. The Outland is a very prestigious award and goes to the nation’s top interior lineman.

Gabe also was placed on the watch lists for the Bronco Nagurski Trophy, which goes to the nation’s top defensive player. He made 35 tackles last season including three sacks and nine tackles for a loss. Kozan was part of an O-Line that paved the way for the nation’s top rushing attack.

Out of 121 Division I schools, Auburn is one of just six programs in the nation to have three players on the Outland list. Should one of them win the honor, it would be the third time in history that an Auburn man won the Outland. Auburn greats Zeke Smith won in 1958 and Tracy Rocker took home the honor in 1988.

Congrats to these Tigers, you make us proud! Now lets move on to the next big event of the 2014 football season …

SEC Media Days begin Monday!

Tribute to the 2014 Track ‘Em Tigers Auburn Football Hall of Fame

By Posted on: July 9th, 2014 in Featured Article, Football 5 Comments »
9243269 Frank  Sanders

                Frank Sanders with Bob Hope on the 1994 All-American TV Show. (photo:Auburn media file)
Auburn University has a football heritage that is one of the richest  in all of college sports. In fact, some of the greatest to ever play the game have worn the Orange and Blue. The Tigers have had four College Football Hall of Fame coaches, three Heisman Trophy winners, and are the twelfth Winn ingest program in Division I history.

Not only has Auburn won more SEC Championships than any other school in the last 10 years, the Tigers are the ninth most successful program in the last five decades. In addition, there have been over a thousand players to wear the Orange and Blue in that time span.

For that reason we turned to our members to help select the 2014 class 0f Track ‘em Tigers Hall of Fame.

Over a thousand TET members voted over the July 4th weekend and selected a 10 member class that features one former coach and six All-SEC players, four of whom made All-American.

The ten man class includes four offensive players, three defensive players and one special selection of a person who never played a down of college football.

Following are short bios on the selections for this year’s class.

"Iron Mike" Donahue

“Iron Mike” Donahue

Mike Donahue (Coach) 1904–1906, 1908–1922. Known as “Iron Mike,” Donahue is one of the most important names in the history of Auburn athletics. Coach Donahue had a .743 winning percentage with a record of 106 -35-5 in 18 seasons on The Plains. A record only surpassed by Gus Malzahn (for coaches who’ve coached more than five games).

He had three undefeated teams and won five Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association titles, in 1904, 1910, 1913, 1914 and 1919. His 1913 and 1914 teams have been retroactively recognized as national champions by various selectors with the ’13 team appearing in the NCAA record book.

In 1905, Donahue both started and coached Auburn’s first official varsity basketball team, which went 3–1 -1. He also served as athletic director, baseball coach, track coach, and soccer coach at one time or other while at Auburn.

One of four Auburn Coaches to have been inducted into the National College Football Hall of Fame, Donahue Drive on which Jordan–Hare Stadium is located is named in his honor.

Ed Dyas

Ed Dyas

Ed Dyas (RB/LB/ST)  1958-60. A three way player at Auburn from 1958-60, Dyas was a star fullback, linebacker, and kicker. He is one of eight former Auburn players to be inducted into the National College Football Hall of Fame. He led his team in rushing and scoring his senior year and was named the most outstanding back in the SEC. At the end of his Auburn career he was sixth on the all-time rushing list at Auburn.

As a kicker Ed was considered one of the most outstanding field goal kickers in the history of the sport. He rewrote the NCAA record books in 1960 for kickers. Four times during that season, Dyas won SEC games with his field goals, including kicking three in the first ever Auburn-Georgia game played in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Although the All-American finished fourth in the 1960 Heisman Trophy voting he elected to forgo an NFL career to attend medical school.

More after the jump including one who never played for Auburn.

fyffepic- Jim FyffeJim Fyffe (Radio announcer) 1981-2003. Named Alabama Sportscaster of the Year nine times during his career, he was posthumously inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2005. Fyffe was and still is the most revered radio announcer in the history of Auburn Football.

His distinctive voice called the play-by-play for Auburn’s football teams for 22 years. There was never any doubt, that Jim was a homer and a man who loved Auburn - both traits that made his voice synonymous with Auburn Football. To this day, many fans can remember where they were when they heard him make one of his many famous calls. Current announcer, Rod Bramblett honors Jim today by using his distinctive “Touch d o w n n n … A u b u r n !” At the game, in the car, or at home, Jim was Auburn football.

e4cda36662277930efc9086289bb565c6078eb1b-David-LangnerDavid Langner (DB) 1971 -1973. His is a name that needs no introduction to Auburn people. He was the hero of the 1972 Iron Bowl game known as “Punt, Bama, Punt.” Down 16-3 to No.2 Alabama, he scooped up two blocked punts by bill Newton scoring both times to give Auburn it’s most wildest finish in Iron Bowl history (that is till this year’s “Kick six”). In addition, he sealed Bama’s fate with an interception on the last play of the game.

ESPN has ranked the game as one of the top defining moments of college football and in August 2010, they ranked the game as the 8th most painful outcome in college football history.

However what most folk don’t remember was that Langner was also an All-SEC Defensive back whose 12 career interceptions is tied for fifth in Auburn history. And David still holds the Auburn record with 287 interception return yards, including 108 in one game.

Philip+Lutzenkirchen+Auburn+v+Alabama+QnONi9JeCJ6lPhillip Lutzenkirchen (TE) 2009-2012. Perhaps one of the all-time fan favorites to ever play at Auburn. Although he had not been out of school long enough to be considered for the 2014 class, his name was placed on the ballot due to overwhelming support from our members.

A member of the 2010 National Championship team, Phillip was also one of the best Tight Ends to ever wear the Orange and Blue. Although his senior year was cut short by a hip injury, the All-SEC player still ranks first in touchdown receptions (14), second in total receptions (59) and third in receiving yards (628).

He was a consummate Tight End who had a knack for making big plays. Perhaps the one that will be remembered the most was when he scored the winning touchdown in the 2010 comeback win over Alabama. His name will forever go down in Iron Bowl lore along with such greats as David Langner, Lawyer Tillman, Bo Jackson, and Chris Davis.

A hip injury cost him his senior season and what had looked like a promising NFL career.

297404_display_imageDameyeune Craig (QB) 1993-1997. One of the most electrifying quarterbacks to ever play for Auburn. He did things on the gridiron that has rarely been seen in college football. Fans who saw Cam Newton may be the only Auburn quarterback to come close to the acrobatic exploits of the former signal caller.

He led Auburn in setting an offensive team record of 588 total yards in a 62-0 victory over Fresno State. In his senior year, he led Auburn to the SEC Western Division title and a berth in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta where the Tigers lost a narrow 30-29 game to Peyton Manning and Tennessee.

The current Auburn Offensive Coordinator went on to play professionally for the Carolina Panthers and the Scottish Claymores in NFL Europe – where he set a pro football passing record of 611 yards. The jersey he wore in that game now hangs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

2004_CFB_AUBURN_LARGERonnie Brown (RB) 2000 -2004. The two time All-SEC selection was part of Auburn’s Dynamic Duo that included Cadillac Williams. Despite backing up Williams his first two seasons, he scored 30 touchdowns at Auburn and finished his career with 3,475 all purpose yards; which was good enough to be ranked seventh in the history of Running back U.

Coach Tommy Tuberville said that the duo along with Quarterback Jason Campbell made up the best backfield in the past 30 years as they led the team to a 13-0 record and a No.2 final ranking. Tubby still maintains today that the ’04 bunch should be recognized as national champions.

Brown was drafted with the 2nd overall pick in the First Round of the NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins in 2005 and after 10 years he is still playing professional football.

1994_Sanders,_FrankFrank Sanders (WR) 1991-94. Named to the 2013 Class of SEC Football Legends, Frank truly is an Auburn and SEC legend. He led the SEC in receiving yards (910) his senior year and finished his career in second place on Auburn’s all-time list of total receptions (121), with 1,998 total yards, and 15 touchdowns. The stellar performance led to him being named First Team All-SEC as well as an All-American in 1994.

He was immortalized among Auburn fans by Jim Fyffe’s famous “Nix to Sanders” call in the 1993 Iron Bowl when trailing Bama, he caught a 4th and 14 touchdown pass from Patrick Nix. The two duplicated the feat the next season to upset No.1 Florida in the Swamp.

He went onto play nine seasons in the NFL mostly with the Arizona Cardinals, retiring after 2003 with 507 career receptions for 6,749 yards and 24 touchdowns.

David_Rocker_crop_250David Rocker (DT) 1987-90. When college football fans hear the name Rocker most think of  Auburn’s Lombardi Trophy winner Tracy Rocker. However, his brother David made just as big an impact on those great Pat Dye teams of the late eighties.

While David didn’t win the Lombardi (which recognizes the nation’s top collegiate lineman) he was a finalist for the award in1990. He also joined his brother Tracy in becoming a first team All-American in 1990. He was a two-time consensus All-SEC player in 1989 and 1990 and went on to play four seasons for the Los Angeles Rams.

After narrowly missing TET’s Hall of Fame last year, it’s great to see the fans put him in the 2014 class.

Auburn v Georgia X DansbyKarlos Dansby (LB) 2001-03. A two time All-SEC selection and First Team All-American, Dansby was a Butkus Award semi-finalist his senior year after making 84 tackles including 14 tackles for a loss with 5.5 sacks, 6 pass deflections, and 4 caused fumbles.

Known as one of the hardest hitting linebackers to ever play in the SEC Karlos had a total 219 career tackles, 36 for a loss, 10 sacks,15 pass deflections and eight interceptions. I just wish Auburn could clone him for 2014.

He was the first pick of the second round in the 2004 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. And after 10 seasons ,the All-Pro is still at the top of his game.

So there you have it – the 2014 class of  Track ‘em Tigers Auburn Football Hall of Fame.

We want to express our appreciation to everyone that participated in the process of nominating and or voting the last few days. Selecting 10 names from such a storied program like Auburn is a very difficult task. After all, there have been hundreds of other worthy nominees to play for the Tigers including 70 All-Americans and over 243 first team All-SEC players. So this class, just like Auburn Football, is in a class by themselves.

War Eagle!

Some Memorable Plays (from the past) – 1983 Auburn vs. Florida Edition

By Posted on: July 8th, 2014 in Featured Article, Football, Memories 5 Comments »
23afe021f64f14053c7e9161336e1f4e - Bo

Greetings, fellow football-starved sons and daughters of the Burnt Orange and Navy Blue!  Once again I have crawled out from my rock to share a few memories of one of the first significant games I ever saw as a student at Auburn- the 1983 Florida game, which ended up a hard-fought 28-21 win for the Tigers.

mxayTbVn0lwfU_z3YrjIbDw - 1983The game itself was just another brutal SEC contest featuring the wishbone offense of Auburn against a particularly nasty defense by the Gators (featuring Wilbur Marshall and Alonzo Johnson, among others). In fact, the game program from the 1990 AU-FL game noted that there were more NFL stars (draft picks or starters, I can’t remember the criteria) on the starting line-ups of the two teams together than in any other college football game at any time.

On a personal note, I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, which was brutal territory for any Auburn fan, especially a young one during the Barfield years. Bulldogs and Seminoles (and a few proto-Hurricanes) were rife of course, but for absolute fan rivalry annoyance no one can beat Gator fans. AU’s yearly rivalry with the Gators, now a sad casualty of SEC divisional realignment, gave me an annual opportunity for the pain of dealing with these Gators. I think I am a Gator Hater more than any Bulldog that walks the earth. When it was annual, this was ‘The Game’ I cared about, even more than Georgia or Alabama.

To complete the scene, my folks were visiting me at college for the first time, and I was looking forward to seeing them. We had three seats in the regular fan section of the North end zone (back in the day when regular-dues-paying alumni like my Dad- and now me – could get single-game tickets to decent games). We settled in on a beautiful day at Jordan-Hare for what promised to be a great matchup.

After the jump, I’ll describe a few plays from that game that still stand out in my mind even after all these years (and provide some video clips):

The (Little) Train Goes down the (Side) Track

Bo Jackson ran an amazing 55-yard TD on AU’s opening drive.  After an exchange of touchdowns made the score 14-7, Auburn got the ball on their own 20 yard-line late in the second quarter. As Pat Dye often did, he substituted the whole offensive line (without much drop off in quality) as well as much of the wishbone backfield. The second team drove the ball pretty much the length of the field, down to the Florida 17, coming straight towards Mom, Dad, and me in the stands.

301588 - Lionel JamesAt that point, the first team came back in, with the crowd cheering the second team for their work on that drive. Bo had been baffling the Gators all game, and UF was apparently keying on him a little too much, as the next play showed. The ball was snapped, then Randy Campbell went right, Bo Jackson went right, and eleven Florida Gators went right (well, to their left). Meanwhile, Lionel “Little Train” James went left, as Campbell had surreptitiously slipped him the football, and ran against the grain of the entire Gator defense, who had nothing but a few hand-tackle attempts looking back over their shoulders as their momentum-filled bodies moved the wrong way. Result: a 17-yard touchdown, a 21-7 halftime score, and all of it played out in front of me in the best seats in the house for that play!

In the Jordan-Hare concourse at halftime, we heard an enthusiastic Auburn fan holler, “Gator tails will be sold in the parking lot at the conclusion of today’s game!” Dad and I both winced, as we knew that you could not count out UF at any time, even with a hefty (by eighties football standards) two-touchdown lead.  Although the next two plays I remember had us thinking that fellow was right….

From Touchdown to Touchback

A few months earlier, I had just asked my brother-in-law what the call would be if a team fumbled out of the opponent’s end zone before crossing the goal line for a touchdown. Well, his answer was proved correct, when it happened in this game (again right in front of me and my folks).

As I noted above, the Gators were not going to surrender their tails that easily, and to open the third quarter, Florida had relentlessly driven the ball down inside the Auburn 10. UF’s own lightning-fast running back, Neal Anderson, took the handoff and darted into open space with nothing but the cool October air between him and the goal-line. I saw a Tiger defender running after him and thought, “What’s the point, he’s already scored.” Well, I am glad Auburn DB Tommy Powell didn’t read my mind, because just like Antoine Carter did to Mark Ingram, he punched the ball out of  Neal’s arms, just before he crossed the goal line, with the ball rolling out the side of the end zone for an Auburn touchback (FYI, under today’s rules, the ball in this situation would have been awarded to Auburn at the point of the fumble).

This was an amazing play on its own, but what really made this play memorable was what happened next….

From Touchback to Touchdown

On Auburn’s first play from the 20, Bo Jackson just blows through the Gator defensive line and seriously outraces all the UF defensive backs. “That’s a 14-point swing!” I said to Dad as we watched Jackson’s “tail lights” recede toward the far goal line, on just another day at the office for Bo. But even at 28-7, the Gators weren’t finished, as Pat Dye had the tendency to take his foot off the gas pedal after building a lead. As a result, UF scored twice in the fourth quarter and even recovered an onside kick to make the game more “interesting” than I would have liked. Nonetheless, in the end the defense held, as also shown earlier in the game….

Goal-Line Stand(s)

Here is where my memory is fuzzy. I do remember that the Gators had several first-and-goals during the game, and they did score one short-yardage touchdown late in the game. However, at least once and maybe even twice, Auburn’s defense responded like the fence in the old Osmose (now Yella-Wood) lumber ad, and turned the Gators away on four straight downs inside the two yard-line. Oh, nothing could make an Auburn fan feel proud like a great goal-line stand by the Men in Blue, back when real men went for it on fourth-and-goal from inches out.

Here is a clip of Bo’s two touchdowns (as the kids say these days, they are both just sick), sandwiching that great defensive play by Tommy Powell:


Here are two more clips from the AU locker room after this game, featuring Randy Campbell and the original Great One, both clips being nabbed from our fellow Auburn blog, The War Eagle Reader:



And just for giggles, here is Pat Dye’s Osmose lumber commercial, to which I alluded above:


I really need to do more complete, source-document research like the other folks here at TET, instead of relying on my memory and pieces of information from Google (since both are not what they used to be).  Nonetheless, these particular plays still stand out clearly through the fog of time, and are now part of our great Auburn lore – and I’m glad I was there!

Michael Val

(who wouldn’t mind anyone correcting anything that I got wrong above)

The Real Definition of Rich

By Posted on: July 7th, 2014 in Football 3 Comments »

Society has its own definition of rich. The visual images include big homes, foreign cars, swimming pools and vacation cottages. Last week, Phillip Lutzenkirchen gave us the real image of rich. Looking at those pictures of a full high school football stadium in Atlanta during his memorial service, you realized this young man was among the richest of all.

Thousands don’t show up for a service because a guy was a great football player. He was so much more. There are few who go through life never making an enemy. There are fewer who touch so many lives in such a short period of time. Phillip did all those things in 23 short years.

I’ll always have those memories of him on the football field, but the lasting one for me was a football stadium full of people gathered to pay their final respects. That’s what you call rich. Even in death, Phillip Lutzenkirchen continues to teach us all. We’ve been blessed to share in his life…

With the attention on football, new Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl continues to quietly put his program back on solid footing. A big piece of that is getting buy-in from past players and coaches.

Recently, Pearl was able to put together a reunion on campus of the old guard, including Charles Barkley, Sonny Smith, Cliff Ellis, Chuck Person and Chris Porter. It was a collection of greats that couldn’t be imagined a year ago.

Pearl says he can’t succeed without them and that includes former coach and current Coastal Carolina head man Cliff Ellis.

“When Bruce called me, I said, ‘Bruce, I’m not ready,’” Ellis told Charles Goldberg. “He said, ‘Your players think you’re ready, and it’s time for you to come back. Cliff, your group is making a statement for the things I’ve tried to do. I need you to help me to get this thing going.”

It was his first visit back to campus since being released more than 10 years ago. Getting Ellis back to campus is a statement itself on the determination of Pearl to build Auburn into a contender.

While Auburn basketball has had few sustained highlights, those in the room that evening show us that the program can win at a high level. Having Barkley and Person active in the program should make everyone feel better about the winter months.

Now back to football.

Track ‘Em Tigers Auburn Football Hall of Fame Ballot for 2014

By Posted on: July 4th, 2014 in Featured Article, Football 7 Comments »

                                                                                                           Auburn All-American Ronnie Brown (photo:Todd Van Ernst)
In the last three days here at Track ‘Em Tigers, we have been taking nominations for our own Auburn Tigers Football Hall of Fame. It’s a challenging task to come up with a slate of names when one is looking at hundreds of great players from the past 121 years.

Therefore we turned once again to our readership for assistance. Our members came through, making over 80 nominations along with some excellent reasons for their selections. Today we have prepared a ballot for our readers to determine who will make up the class of 2014.

We announced on Tuesday that Coach Mike Donahue was nominated for the staff selection. His name is one of two remaining Tigers that are on the College Football Foundation’s Hall of Fame that have yet to be placed in TET’s Hall. The other is former Running back, Dr. Ed Dyas. Therefore we are making both automatic selections for this year’s class.

Since all of Auburn’s 12 College Football Hall Fame members are now included, we plan to have two classifications in the future. One representing players from the last 25 – 30 years and one representing “old school” Tigers.

To get our other seven selections we have prepared a ballot/poll based on the names provided by TET members from this week’s nominations. However, we have two deviations from our announced plans.

The player that received the most nominations has not been out of school long enough to be eligible. Nonetheless support for his inclusion has been overwhelming. Therefore we’ve made an exception and added Phillip Lutzenkirchen’s name to  the ballot.

Also in the comments on Tuesday’s article, TET member WarEagle3020 made a suggestion to include a special induction for Auburn radio announcer, Jim Fyffe. Thirty-twenty had this to say about Fyffe:

“Jim Fyffe: voice of the Auburn Tigers. His voice on the radio solidified my love for Auburn at an early age. Many including myself, considered him an important part of the Auburn Tigers football team. His contributions to the program are legendary.” 

We certainly agree with that endorsement and therefore Jim Fyffe will be included in this year’s class as a special staff placement.

There are 11 names on the list and the poll will close Tuesday, July ninth. The seven names receiving the highest number of votes will be included in this year’s class of the Track ‘Em Tigers Football Hall of Fame. So vote for the seven that you would like to see go into this year’s HOF class. Next week, we will publish a tribute article to the list of winners.

Since the comments for Tuesday’s article have been closed, please feel free to discuss your ballot here on this post.

We thank you and again wish all a Happy 4th of July.

War Eagle! 

Voting Closed – See bios of 2014 class at Tribute article.

Ballot for 2014 class of Track 'em Tigers Auburn Football Hall of Fame Ballot (Choose 7 names).

  • Dameyeune Craig (QB) (83%, 871 Votes)
  • Ronnie Brown (RB) (81%, 857 Votes)
  • Phillip Lutzenkirchen (TE) (79%, 832 Votes)
  • Frank Sanders (WR) (76%, 800 Votes)
  • Karlos Dansby (LB) (74%, 784 Votes)
  • David Rocker (DT) (58%, 616 Votes)
  • David Langner (DB) (58%, 614 Votes)
  • Marcus McNeil (OL) (57%, 599 Votes)
  • Tommy Agee (FB) (53%, 560 Votes)
  • Aubdray Bruce (DE) (49%, 513 Votes)
  • Lewis Colbert (ST) (16%, 169 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,055

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A Bye Week for the Tigers in October.

By Posted on: July 3rd, 2014 in Football 3 Comments »
Bye week result

Auburn made good use of the off week last season!
(Photo by Acid Reign.)

     After Auburn has played their first six opponents this year, the Tigers get a mid-October bye week, taking the 18th off. After playing LSU and Mississippi State back to back, the Tigers may need a rest, before a 4-week stretch against South Carolina, at Ole Miss, Texas A&M, and at Georgia. This week’s subject is whether bye weeks are of any benefit to Auburn. For purposes of this piece, I’m only going to examine the period of time covered since the SEC split into divisions. In other words, the last 22 years.

     In 1992, the Tide and Tigers were forced by their TV overlords to play on Thanksgiving Day. Thereafter, both schools set their schedules up for an open date after the Iron Bowl, taking Thanksgiving week off. Alabama and Auburn were thus left with only one bye week during the season. Since the college football world went to the 12 game regular season permanently in 2006, that’s now the case for many teams. About 7 years ago, the SEC mandated that all SEC teams must have a game scheduled the last week of the season. Looking back on the past 22 years, We’ll examine each Auburn bye week, and then what transpired in the next game.

     In 1992, Auburn effectively had two bye weeks. The first came after a 24-24 tie against Arkansas. Auburn had a week off before hosting Georgia. The Tigers had opened the season 4-1, but had stumbled through October to a 5-3-1 mark. Auburn played Georgia tough, falling 10-14, with the ball on the UGA one yard line with no timeouts. That UGA team ultimately won 10 games. After the UGA game, Auburn had ten days off before the Thanksgiving Iron Bowl. Auburn battled eventual national champ Alabama to a scoreless deadlock at the half, before a pick six put the game out of reach. Auburn wilted late, losing 0-17. Verdict: The bye weeks helped Auburn regroup and play top ten teams tough.

     The 1993 team ripped out to a 7-0 record before an October bye week. The bye came after a hard-fought 38-35 win over Florida. The rested Tigers fought a battle in the snow in Arkansas, rolling over the Razorbacks in the 4th quarter for a 31-21 win. Verdict: Auburn was the fresher team in Fayetteville due to the bye.

     A nearly identical scenario occurred in 1994. Auburn beat Florida in Gainesville to go 7-0, then had a bye week. At home against Arkansas, the Tigers looked positively frazzled in the first half, trailing 3-7 at the break. The Razorbacks collapsed in the 4th quarter, giving up 3 Stephen Davis TD runs late, as Auburn won 31-14. Verdict: Maybe Auburn had a little more gas in the tank at the end due to the bye, but they sure didn’t look sharp for 3 quarters. Result was inconclusive.

     Things fell a little differently in 1995. The Tigers had just hit a serious pothole in Baton Rouge before the bye week, losing 6-12 to LSU. After the September bye week, Auburn took on the “much improved” Bill Curry UK Wildcats, and tore out to a 35-7 halftime lead, en route to a 42-21 win. Verdict: The bye week was invaluable teaching time for the offensive line, which had been manhandled by LSU.

     In 1996, the bye week again fell after LSU. At the end of the barn-burner game, Auburn stood at 3-1. The D had largely shut down Auburn’s first 4 opponents, with shutouts against UAB and Fresno, and even in the 15-19 loss to LSU, offensive turnovers had led to most of LSU’s points. After the bye week, Auburn was diced up pretty handily by the USC Gamecocks, and only managed 228 total offensive yards in the game. Somehow the Tigers came from behind to win 28-24, but it was not a pretty game. Verdict: Auburn regressed during the off-week.

     Auburn played 9 straight games till the off week in 1997. In week 9, the Tigers appeared completely out of gas in a 0-20 loss at home to Mississippi State. After the bye week, Auburn roared into Athens, Georgia, and put up a dominating 45-34 win over the Bulldogs, en route to the first Tiger SEC Title Game appearance. Verdict: The bye week helped a thin Tiger team get their legs back under them.

     There was much to forget about the 1998 season. Auburn’s bye week came early again, after a 19-31 loss to LSU. After the bye, Auburn hosted defending SEC Champ Tennessee. Tigers roared down the field with an energy seldom seen that season, but fumbled the ball for a 90 yard UT score the other way. Auburn lost to the eventual national champion 9-17. Verdict: The bye week helped, as the defense looked much improved against UT and teams beyond.

     In 1999, Auburn was back to having a bye week after Florida. Auburn had started the season impressively enough, but had dropped 4 straight games with starting quarterback Ben Leard on the sideline with a separated shoulder. After the bye week, Leard returned against Arkansas. It didn’t matter. If anything, the Tigers looked worse after the rest. Auburn got drubbed by Arkansas 10-34, and Leard was out again with a concussion. Verdict: Bye week was no help whatsoever.

     Auburn again went 9 straight weeks till the bye in 2000. Tigers looked out of gas late against Arkansas in game 9, but hung on for a 21-19 win to run their record to 7-2. After the bye, Auburn hosted Georgia. Georgia looked like the better team, but Auburn had a reserve of energy, and would not stay down. The game went to overtime, where the Tigers and Rudi Johnson bashed down for a winning Leard sneak, 29-26. Verdict: The bye week rested the Tigers enough to knock off UGA and Bama and head back to Atlanta for another SEC Title game.

     The 2001 season had two bye weeks, one scheduled, and one caused by the 9-11 terrorist tragedy. Auburn had a week off after 9-11, when they would have played LSU. With an extra week, Auburn prepared for a trip to Syracuse. The bye was of no help. The Tigers looked pretty lost on both sides of the ball, and lost 14-31 to the Orangemen. The second bye week was after the worst Auburn loss to Arkansas in history. The Tigers had turned a tight game in Fayetteville into a 17-42 blowout loss with 4th quarter turnovers. After the bye, Auburn rode freshman Carnell Williams for 41 carries, and upset Georgia in Athens 24-17. Verdict: Bye weeks were a 50/50 split in 2001.

     The 12 game regular season made its first appearance in 2002. Auburn had a bye week after a three overtime squeaker against Syracuse, 37-34. After the bye, Auburn was steamrolled by Arkansas 17-38. The Razorbacks racked up 426 yards rushing in that one. Verdict: After the bye, Auburn fell apart on both sides of the ball.

     Auburn got a bye week in 2003 after just two weeks. It was a disastrous two week span, with a 0-23 loss to USC, and a 3-17 loss to Georgia Tech. Tommy Tuberville called in consultants to fix his offense during the off week. Auburn came off the bye with a 45-7 blowout of Vandy, and won 5 straight games. Verdict: The bye week could not have come at a better time.

     Auburn went 9 weeks till the bye in 2004. The 9th game was a 35-14 win over Ole Miss, and the Tigers looked tired. After the bye, Auburn hosted two-time defending east champion Georgia. Auburn was the tougher team, gutting out a 24-6 win that vaulted Auburn close to second place in the BCS title race. Verdict: The off week helped the Tigers.

     In 2005, the bye week occurred in week six. Auburn had lost the opener to Georgia Tech, but had reeled off 4 straight wins, the last being a 48-7 beatdown of Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks. After the bye, Auburn traveled to Fayetteville. The Tigers messed around for a half, then pummelled the Razorbacks 34-17. Verdict: Uncertain. Auburn did look fresher in the 2nd half, but the off time seemed to have stalled the offense in the first half.

     The 12 game regular season became a permanent fixture in 2006. In 2006, Auburn played straight through to the Iron Bowl with no break.

     In 2007, the SEC had ruled that every team must play on the weekend before the SEC title game, thus both Alabama and Auburn saw their pre-championship off week ended. Auburn took a bye week before the Iron Bowl, then outlasted the Tide 17-10, winning their sixth Iron Bowl in a row! Verdict: The Tigers were able to recover from a 20-45 thrashing in Athens to down Nick Saban’s first Bama squad.

     Auburn’s bye week in 2008 again preceded the Iron Bowl. The Tigers were coming off a frustrating 13-17 loss to an eventual 10 win Georgia team. The Tigers were 5-6, and needed a win over Bama to go bowling. The bye week may have helped Auburn keep it close for a half, trailing only 0-10. However, the Tigers collapsed in the 2nd half, suffering a 0-36 beating. It was the worst loss to Bama since 1962. Verdict: The bye week had no real benefit.

     The 2009 season again saw the bye week right before the Iron Bowl, after playing 11 straight weeks. Auburn had lost in Athens 24-31, when Mario Fannin could not hold onto a pass at the goal line. After the bye week, Auburn came out and hit top-ranked Bama in the mouth, going up 14-0 and playing toe-to-toe down to the wire, before falling 21-26. Verdict: Auburn improved drastically during the break.

     In 2010 the break was again right before the Iron Bowl. The Tigers had run to a surprising 11-0 mark with a 49-31 win over Georgia. The Tigers had already clinched the SEC Western Division title heading into the bye. In the first half of the Iron Bowl, it was like the Tigers had forgotten everything they knew, falling down the toilet to a 0-24 deficit. The Champs rallied, though, and forged the greatest comeback in Auburn history. Verdict: Bye week seemed to have taken the edge off the Tiger machine.

     Auburn’s break in 2011 was after beating Ole Miss, 41-23. The Tigers had an SEC win with Clint Moseley in his second start. After the break, Auburn traveled to Athens to play Georgia. Auburn put one scoring drive together on trick plays, but had nothing else on either side of the ball. Auburn suffered a crushing 7-45 blowout loss. Verdict: Bye week was no help.

     In 2012, Auburn got a break in week five. The Tigers opened with losses to Clemson and Mississippi State, beat Louisiana-Monroe in overtime, then lost a 10-12 thriller to LSU. Despite the loss to the Bengal Tigers, folks were upbeat that this team might finally be getting it together. After the bye week, Auburn wilted in the 4th quarter in a 7-24 loss to Arkansas, a pattern that would continue, resulting in the worst season in over 60 years at Auburn. Verdict: The bye week seemed to gut Auburn’s enthusiasm for the rest of the year.

     The 2013 break came again after the LSU game, a 21-35 loss in Baton Rouge. After the break, Auburn jumped on 24th-ranked Ole Miss, breaking out to a 20-3 second quarter lead. Auburn held on for a 30-22 win over the Rebels, in route to an SEC Championship season. Verdict: The bye week helped Auburn build on a good second half against LSU.

     Tallying up the results of my opinion/verdicts above: we’ve had 23 bye weeks prior to this one. In those, we had 13 beneficial results, 2 uncertain results and 8 times that the team seemed to have regressed during the break. Result of my completely unscientific survey? Bye weeks help Auburn about 60 percent of the time. Let’s hope we’re on the right side of that equation in 2014!

     This coming season actually features two bye weeks, one before the trip to Kansas State, and one before the South Carolina game. The Gamecocks are the favorite to win the SEC East, this season, I’d think. Even in the second half of the season, Auburn gets to play Samford the week before the Iron Bowl. I think the breaks are pretty well spaced, for navigating a difficult schedule.

Phillip Lutzenkirchen – A Life of Impact

By Posted on: June 30th, 2014 in Featured Article, Football 15 Comments »

Like all Auburn people it was a shock to hear of Phillip Lutzenkirchen’s passing. It’s hard to put into words the emotion that swept over me when I received the news the former Auburn great was gone. I suppose Offensive Coordinator Rhett Lashlee expressed how most of us felt when he tweeted, “Crushed and without words.”

We all know death is no respecter of persons. Yet when I got the news that Lutz had died in an auto accident, it was like someone had kicked me in the stomach.

Only two other times have I had similar emotions when hearing of the passing of an Auburn Family member. The first was in 1980 when Shug Jordan succumbed to a battle with leukemia. The second was in 2003 when I heard over the radio that legendary Auburn announcer Jim Fyffe had suddenly passed away.

But as much as those hurt – this was different. This was not the way it’s suppose to be. This was a young man barely out of college. When a life of promise is lost at such a young age, it’s always harder to fathom.

There will be many tributes written for Phillip this week. I suspect that most will talk of his gridiron glory. Stories will be told and retold about his fantastic almost unbelievable exploits on the football field. However, his legacy goes further than the touchdowns he scored or the records he holds as one of Auburn’s all-time great tight ends.

He felt blessed to be an Auburn man and he had a way about him that impacted not only the fans but his teammates and his friends and family. They all attest to a compassion that was always interested in helping those around him. Phillip led by example on and off the field.

There have been many testimonies from teammates and coaches to that fact but perhaps Auburn AD Jay Jacobs may have given the most poignant statement when he said Lutz, “Had a strong faith, a big heart, and a burning desire to help others. Phillip was a bright light this world desperately needed and his death leaves a void that can’t possibly be filled.”

He only lived 23 years yet oh what a impact he made in that brief time. He once said, “A life is not important except for the impact it has on others.” By that measure, Phillip Lutzenkirchen’s life was really important.

He leaves an example to all that come behind him of faith, of service, of integrity, and of doing things the right way.

The fans have lost one of their all-time favorite Tigers, Auburn has lost a great ambassador, but more importantly his family has lost a son and a brother.

Our hearts and our prayers go out to them today.

Celebrating July 4th Week and …Track ‘em Tigers Auburn Football Hall of Fame

By Posted on: June 30th, 2014 in Featured Article, Football 25 Comments »
hi-res-51553967_crop_exact - Carnell

                                                                                    Cadillac Williams (photo:Chris Graythen/getty images)
With the possible exception of Christmas and New Years, there’s not a bigger American holiday than the fourth of July. The celebration of our nation’s independence is a time honored tradition. It’s a time for parades, fireworks, barbecues, and vacations. And traditionally it’s a time for the staff here at Track ‘Em Tigers to take our annual weeks vacation.

july-4-fireworksThe 4th of July also signals an important time in the world of college football. There isn’t much football news in the middle of the summer. However, after this week that changes, especially with the start of SEC Media Days.

We appreciate all of you that make TET a part of your daily lives and wish you a happy and restful 4th of July. We will be back with our regular postings on July 7th.

In the interim, we have something we would like for you, our readers to help us with.

For the last three years Track’em Tigers has taken nominations for our own Auburn Tigers Football Hall of Fame, which now includes seventeen former Auburn  players and coaches. You can find a list of those names at the end of this article.

The rules for the selection process are:

(1) Nominate only one person from the following positions: QB, RB, FB,WR, TE, OL, DL, LB, DB, ST, and Coach. (2) To be eligible players and or inactive coaches should have been out of college for four years. Eight names, seven chosen by our readers, will go into the 2014 class and may come from any period in Auburn History. (3) Although it would be good for you to have seen the nominee play or coach (at least on television, we recognize that in some cases that would not be possible).

This year the staff will nominate for our selection, legendary Auburn Coach “Iron Mike” Donahue. But Track ‘Em Tigers is about you the fan. So we want to know what you think.

The next two to three days we will be taking nominations to fill up the rest of our ballot of 10 nominees from which seven new names will be selected.

Please tell us in the comment section why you think a player is deserving of the nomination. If your player has already been nominated, you can still nominate him again  - an action that will simply add to the nominees weight to be placed on the final ballot.

Toward the end of this week, we will publish a list of the top vote getters along with a ballot/poll to decide the seven players that will make up the 2014 class of TET’s Auburn Football Hall of Fame.

On behalf of the guys here at Track ‘Em Tigers, thank you in advance for your help. War Eagle and we wish you all a safe and

Happy 4th of July!

Editors note: The names of the seventeen present members of TET’s Hall of Fame are listed after the jump
The 2012 TET/Auburn Football Hall of Fame inductees where: Walter Gilbert, Jimmy Hitchcock, Tucker Frederickson, Pat Sullivan, Tracy Rocker, Bo Jackson, Shug Jordan, and John Heisman. The 2013 class included: George Petrie, Tommy Tuberville, Pat Dye, Terry Beasley, Carnell ‘Cadillac’ Williams, Carlos Rogers, Takeo Spikes, Jason Campbell, and Al Del Greco.