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Let’s Never Forget the 1983 SEC Champions

By on October 23rd, 2013 in Football 14 Comments »

This Saturday Auburn will honor the 1983 SEC Championship Team. To younger fans the men on the field will be nothing more than balding former players from a long-ago generation.

For me they will always represent the best-of-the-best. Regardless of how many championships Auburn wins in the future, there will never be another team like that 1983 squad – my all-time favorite.

I was born in 1969. I was an eighth grader before I ever had a recollection of an Auburn win over Alabama. It wasn’t easy growing up Auburn in the 1970’s. At times, it was downright miserable.

Then along came Pat Dye and by 1983, Auburn was a national power for the first time in my life. As hard as it is to believe now, I used to wonder as a kid whether the rest of the country even knew about Auburn football.

Then it happened.

For a young high school kid, it was the most magical football season of my life. Randy Campbell. Bo Jackson. Lionel James. Gregg Carr. Donnie Humphrey. Doug Smith. Tommy Agee. I could list every single player.

Despite being 30 years ago, I can still remember sitting with my family in Section 43 in the north end-zone of Jordan-Hare Stadium. I can still see the faces who sat around me so long ago.

That season made all those years of futility worth it. I finally understood what it meant to be an Auburn man, even if I was still a boy.

This team would go on to finish 11-1 and defeat Michigan in the Sugar Bowl. It was Auburn’s first SEC Championship in 26 years. You guessed it, the first conference title since Auburn claimed the national championship way back in 1957.

There would be no national title that season. Like other years, Auburn came up short. Many would say they were flat out robbed. When second-ranked Texas lost on New Year’s afternoon and number one Nebraska lost in the Orange Bowl that night, Auburn players thought they had a title.

Unfortunately, NBC who was carrying the Orange Bowl, quickly touted the contest as the national title game following the Texas lost and voters were persuaded, awarding the championship to Miami who upset Nebraska on the final play of the game.

It remains one of the great travesties in college football history.

More than any other team, the 1983 squad set the stage for Auburn dominating the decade. Those of you who sit in the east upper deck can thank this team for your seat. It would not be there without them.

Their success paved the way for an Auburn renaissance that continues today. When they are introduced Saturday night, put your food and drink down for a second and stand up and give them a loud ovation.

Auburn wouldn’t be Auburn without them.


  1. DBAU81 says:

    That was a great team. And there is no doubt they should have been national champions because their schedule was much tougher than Miami’s. It included seven or eight bowl teams (in an era when there were much fewer bowls than today, and going to a bowl really meant something). In addition to their SEC opponents, their non-conference schedule included Florida State and an excellent Maryland team with Boomer Esiason at QB. People love to complain about how we got screwed in 2004, but for my money what happened to the 1983 team was much worse.

  2. uglyjoe says:

    That was my freshman year. Went to every home game plus the Iron Bowl. What a great way to get indoctrinated into Auburn football.

  3. usmc71au83 says:

    As I recall, this game was not as much about Miami upsetting Nebraska, as it was about Nebraska going for the win on the last play, rather than a tie. Please correct me if that was not the case because it has been a few years for me, too.

  4. AUJTJarhead AUJTJarhead says:

    Nebraska did go for the win. Gutsy call but they came up short. Wonder what would have happened if we had a playoff back then instead of a beauty contest. The polls need to go away.

  5. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..I’ll be there this weekend, and I’ll be cheering them on!

  6. Todd92 Todd92 says:

    Jay thankfully I could remember the tigers being nationally relevant during the 9 years of hell… But yeah that 83 season was awesome and brought AU back to national relevance, which,with the exception of the occasional meltdown year, we have enjoyed ever since. And I don’t think we were robbed… I know we were robbed.

  7. Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

    The ’83 team and season was what transformed me into an Auburn fan at the age of 12 (a Georgia boy no less).

  8. Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

    Great post Jay.1983 is my favorite Auburn team as well. I agree they were robbed. The ’83 NC was given to a team only because of the TV exposure of the Orange Bowl game with Nebraska. If pollsters had’ve went with a team that had the best record against the toughest competition – Auburn was “that team.”

  9. DaZeD DaZeD says:

    Just An Old Man’s Observation mind you…

    When second-ranked Texas lost on New Year’s afternoon and number one Nebraska lost in the Orange Bowl that night, Auburn players thought they had a title.

    When I went to bed that night I was assured we were the National Title winners. 30 years later, no one or nothing has changed to convince me otherwise. Same could be said for 2004, but I will allow we were only national title contenders…pending the outcome of the game. Oklahoma proved to the world (and their E$pin gameday advocates) that they had NO BUSINESS playing in that matchup with USC.

    War Eagle ~ National Champions 1913, 1957, 1983, 2010

  10. AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

    The 1983 Tigers were the most important team to come along for Auburn since the 1957 National Championship year. Anyone that lived through the 5-19 Iron Bowl years understand why. There were other great teams, ’63, ’71 and ’72 to name a few, but none had the long term impact on the program as did the boys of ’83.

    The team marked a watershed year for Auburn Football that continues till this day.

    Also, of all the wrongs perpetrated on deserving national championship eligible teams over the years, none were as big a “travesty” as the one inflicted on Auburn’s ’83 squad. No.3 Auburn’s lone loss came in game two against No.2 Texas who lost earlier on New Years day.

    Miami was ranked No. 5 and yet leaped frog over Auburn who had played the undisputed hardest schedule in the nation (a fact verified by being named National Champions by the New York Times,who went by difficulty of schedule). The Canes didn’t actually win the game outright but backed into the ‘W’ when highly touted Nebraska elected to go for two instead of kicking the extra point and settling for the tie and a probable retain-ment of their No.1 status.To add insult to injury, Auburn had soundly defeated the Florida team that beat Miami during the season.

    The larceny by the AP still sticks in my craw to this day and will till I check out of this life. The snub campaigned for by NBC was done despite Auburn being recognized as National Champions by the following respected organizations:
    New York Times, Massey Ratings, Football Research, ARGH, Billingsley, DKC, Eck, FACT, Fleming, James Nutshell Sports, Sorensen, Sparks Achievement, David Wilson, and 1st-N-Goal.

    I was one of those Dye hard fans that kept a bumper sticker on my vehicle till it faded out that said “Miami my(donkey picture) – Auburn #1 !!!”

    You can bet I’ll be standing and cheering for these Auburn men Saturday night.

    Good write up Jay.