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A Case For Renewing Auburn’s Second Oldest Rivalry

By on August 12th, 2014 in Football 18 Comments »
Georgia_Tech_Auburn_football_game_Thanksgiving_1921

Starting in 2016, all SEC teams will be required to play at least one game against a team from one of the other Five Power conferences (Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, or ACC). As a result Auburn announced a two game series last week beginning in 2016 with a familiar old foe.

In fact, too familiar for a lot of fans. The news that Clemson was the chosen opponent was met with about as much enthusiasm from fans as hearing their spouse had scheduled a family reunion of the in-laws at their home.

Clemson is definitely a worthy opponent and would be good for anyone’s strength of schedule. The problem? Auburn has played the purple Tigers four times in the last seven years. Most fans want to see someone different. Some would like to see a team from the Pac12 or Big 10.

Others point to the long history of the two sets of Tigers as a reason to keep them on the schedule. When the two teams meet in Jordan-Hare on Sept. 3, 2016, it will mark the 50th meeting between the old non-conference rivals. I for one like the old sectional rivals. League expansion is doing away with a lot of those treasured series.

Series like the Auburn – Florida game. The Gators were the first SEC team to ever play Auburn at home and is one of the closest geographically to Auburn. The two teams have met 84 times. With expansion there’s not anything that can be done to put the two back together short of moving Auburn to the east and the league has rejected that idea.

However, there is another old rival that could be put back on the schedule

John Heisman's 1892 Auburn Tigers

John Heisman’s 1892 Auburn Tigers

A rival that dates back to 1892. When the two teams stop playing each other on a regular basis (in 1987), the game was known as the second oldest rivalry in the south.

The Deep South’s oldest rivalry began on February 20, 1892, when the Tigers defeated the Georgia Billy Goats 10-0. Nine months later on November 25, 1892, John Heisman’s Tigers defeated Georgia Tech 26-0. Twelve years later Heisman would become Tech’s Head Coach.

Having met 92 times, the Auburn – Tech series is still one of the oldest and most storied series in college football. There were great moments on both sides. I especially remember the 1985 game when Bo Jackson broke loose down the sideline to score a late touchdown and give Auburn a 17-14 victory.

Bo broke loose for a Touchdown.

Bo broke loose for a Touchdown.

And the ’87 game in Atlanta was really special when Auburn scored twice in the final 22 seconds to beat the Jackets 20-10. Defensive End, Aundray Bruce intercepted three passes returning the last one on the final play of the game for a 45 yard touchdown and kept on running right through the end zone and into the tunnel. But an even greater moment was when AU announcer Jim Fyffe made what was to become one of his most famous calls on the other score, “Tillman, Tillman, Tillman … At The Baseline Of The End Zone! A Bullet By Burger! Auburn Goes Ahead!” -  The tape still brings goose bumps today.

From 1905 to 1987, Auburn and Georgia Tech played every year with the exception of 1943 when Auburn did not field a team because of World War II. The Yellow Jackets were the first team to play Auburn at home in 1896. And to this day that contest remains one of the most famous games in the history of the sport.

The game gave birth to Auburn’s “Wreck Tech Pajama Parade.” An old Auburn tradition before the annual game and one that Auburn students are missing out on today. As the story goes, Auburn students went out at night in their pajama’s and greased the railroad tracks the night before Tech was to arrive in the morning at Auburn.

screenview-wreck techOlder Auburn alum remember the story of how the train couldn’t stop and slid through Auburn almost to Loachapoka 10 miles away. The Tech team had to walk back to Auburn carrying their luggage, and the tired Yellow Jackets were trounced by the Tigers 45-0. The event is so legendary that in 2013, USATODAY picked it as the second all-time greatest prank in the history of college football.

You can call me a sentimental old fool but rivalries are the fuel for college football and every time we lose one we lose a little bit of what makes the college game so special.

Auburn and Georgia Tech need to be back together. And now that the SEC and the ACC have to schedule one non conference opponent from the power 5 … the time has come for the two school’s administration to make it happen.

Editor’s note:
The picture at the top of the page is of Auburn playing Tech in Atlanta Nov. 24, 1921.

18 Comments

  1. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    Auburn practically founded Clemson’s football program. But that doesn’t mean i want to play them every year. We are too alike.

    I would rather play Georgia Tech.

    There is a rivalry to be proud of in my opinion. We have played them more than bama before we stopped playing them. Two engineering schools. True competition.

    I have always understood the reason we kept the cousin’s in the West… mainly to focus attention on the State. But that doesn’t mean they were more important. We never should have let Tech slip off our schedule.

    Auburn should have been moved to the Eastern division. It was the logical thing to do.

    WDE

    • wpleagle wpleagle says:

      Coulda woulda shoulda! Unfortunately, with GT playing UGA every year, an AU – GT rivalry just is not in the books. I agree that GT was a great rival, and it used to be one of my favorite games while I was on campus in the early 60’s. However, I think Clemson is a worthy opponent and a good compromise.

  2. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..The only issue I see is that the Techsters are already playing Georgia every year. I’m not sure they’d want the burden of two SEC schools on a permanent basis.

  3. Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

    I agree – Bring back the Auburn – Tech series!
    It would make sense for a lot of reasons. For one thing, Atlanta has the largest group of Auburn alumni outside of Alabama and it would be a sellout every year. For another, It’s hard to make road trips to Arkansas and Texas but more of us could attend a game just a couple of hours from Auburn. Also, playing at Tech could aid in recruiting the Atlanta area.

  4. mikeautiger says:

    After we play Clemson these next two years to reclaim our honor we should play others, tech is good, fl state would be good, then from other big z5 conferences would be nice. Bit we need to take care of business with Clemson first. They think because they beat us the last two time, two of the worst teams in Auburn history, that they think they did something great. They need to be put back in their place as indicative of the series record.

  5. DBAU81 says:

    I would much rather play Tech than Clemson. For AU fans of a certain age, Tech was a bigger rival than Alabama, owing to a long period of time when the Bama series was suspended and Auburn had to play Tech in Atlanta every year – and usually lost. That all changed when Coach Jordan arrived and, eventually, it turned into a home-and-home series. Of all the changes in the schedule during recent years, it’s the Tech rivalry that I miss the most.

  6. sullivan013 sullivan013 says:

    Personally while I would love to see an ongoing series with Tech renewed, I doubt if we could enable that in the current playoff environment. I believe selection to be one of the four playoff teams will rely on two major factors, in order:

    A. Winning your conference championship
    B. Having at least one and possibly two significant non-conference games.

    The only way to achieve this is to schedule a mid-tier and above team from another conference every year, and to play a different conference every year. The earlier, the better.

    This year we’re taking on a very good Kansas State team under a legendary coach. LSU is taking on Wisconsin and Alabama is playing West Virginia in the first month of play. Teams like Georgia and Florida with their regularly scheduled OOC rivalries are actually at a disadvantage in the new system I believe as the inclination for the ‘top 4′ will rest on the perception of the committee. I feel the OOC games earlier in the season will make a greater impression on committee members.

    • wpleagle wpleagle says:

      If quality of opponent is an issue, Clemson is currently head and shoulders better than GT!

  7. War_Eagle_2010 War_Eagle_2010 says:

    I’d rather schedule Florida as the OOC game, but that will never happen. Clemson is alright I suppose.

  8. mvhcpa says:

    The problem with this thinking is that quality of the rivalry itself depends on both the quality/tradition of the rivals AND the continuing nature of the rivalry. If we play Tech a few years, then someone from another conference, then a different ACC opponent, etc, there really isn’t much rivalry going on anymore. We would have to have a “lock-in” on Tech like we did before (as FL-FSU and UGA-Tech have now) to really renew the rivalry. Otherwise, it’s just another game to me.

    Michael Val
    (who thinks there should and can be, for ALL the conferences, some kind of OOC lock-in system with another conference)

  9. WoodrowAU95 says:

    I would like to see AU play teams like USC, Nebraska, or Texas again. Those would be great to see.

    • ATL_AU_FAN says:

      @oodrowAU95 – While I do agree that I would love to se AU play the teams you mention the issue of travel, when playing a home and home series, comes into play. I’m still not certain I understand how true die-hard fans will be able to travel in the post-season as it is much less if playing an opponent from the West Coast. If, however, fans plan not to travel to opposing stadiums then I can better see your point as valid. The trip to Kansas State is difficult enough, especially when hoping for more trips post regular season!

  10. Todd92 Todd92 says:

    Great read ATM and I agree bring back the wreck Tech parade and the bed races! Kids these days don’t know what they are missing.

  11. ATL_AU_FAN says:

    I’m not at all upset over renewing the Clemson series. I’ve enjoyed seeing games both in JHS and in Clemson, and after all, as a visitor to Clemson, how many other stadiums allow fans to leave at halftime to visit their tailgate spots for a refreshing drink of water?