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Nostalgic Friday: First Ever Iron Bowl on The Plains

By on August 3rd, 2018 in Football, Memories 8 Comments »

Reggie Slack's 44-yard pass to Alexander Wright on Auburn's first possession in the '89 Iron Bowl electrified the fans and set the stage for the greatest game ever played in Jordan-Hare Stadium ( photo: USA TODAY Sports)

December 2, 1989. Auburn has played many big games over the course of its 100+ years in existence, but none have been more important than the contest that took place on that cool December day.

Alabama said it would never happen. Pat Dye was determined that it would. It did. The stakes could not have been higher. Alabama was ranked second nationally and playing for a shot at the national championship. An Auburn win meant a share of the SEC Championship; its fourth of the decade.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was a junior at Auburn and doing a live radio broadcast for WEGL on top of an RV. Tiger Walk was unlike anything I’d even seen before or since. The look on the players’ and fans’ eyes as the team made its way to the stadium: you just knew Auburn was going to win. I honestly don’t believe the Soviet Union could have kept Auburn out of the end zone on that day.

Auburn prevailed, and a permanent shift of football power took place in the state that still stands today. We’ve posted two videos for this most historic game. One with recollections of Coach Dye, Coach Bill Curry, David Housel and some of the players from both schools. The second video is longer and gives highlights of the game. This footage should be required viewing for every Auburn fan not old enough to remember. Enjoy…


  1. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    ……Frankly, that was a scary game, from my perspective. We were on a 3-year Iron Bowl win streak, but 1989 was a tough year. Auburn had been manhandled in Knoxville, and in Tallahassee. The score in both of those games made it look closer than the game really was. We struggled, even against teams like Mississippi State, winning that one at home only by the score of 14-0. There was the miracle 4th down pass to beat Florida, 10-7. Only in November was the offense really starting to come together, which we saw in a 20-3 win in Athens.

    ……Bama was dangerous, in 1989. That might have been the best offense in Alabama history, and they tore their way though the SEC to a 10-0 record, coming into this game. Bama folks just didn’t like Bill Curry, due to bad blood with Georgia Tech 35 years before. But folks, Curry was recruiting well, and had the Tide rolling.

    …..I seem to recall something about a brick being thrown through Curry’s office window, during that period. There was lots of Tide grumbling after the loss to Auburn, and a close loss to Miami in the Sugar Bowl. Curry resigned, and went to coach at Kentucky. He left the next Bama coach, Gene Stallings, a LOT of good players.

    • Tigerpharm says:

      Always enjoy your thoughts Acid. But I also think they didn't like Curry because he didn't come off the Bryant coaching tree. Which was the reason they hired Gene Stallings to replace him.

  2. Tigerpharm says:

    Good post Jay.
    I’ve been attending games in Jordan-Hare since I entered college in 1963 and I’ve seen a lot of great ones. Nothing will ever come close to the emotion that Auburn fans shared that day. It’s too bad that the younger generation can only read about it.

    • AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

      I agree. And it was the whole day that was special from tailgaiting, to the biggest most emotional Tiger Walk ever, to winning the game.

      There have been many great moments. Games like the “Prayer in Jordan-Hare” and the “Kick Six” were thrilling at the end but the first Iron Bowl in Auburn was thrilling every moment of the entire game. We stood most of the game but when the Tigers went up 27-10, I was so excited, I had to sit down for a moment as I was getting dizzy headed.

      Bama fought hard and made it close at the end but the emotional wave that poured over that stadium made it almost impossible for them to win. Talk about your 12th man, I’ve never seen anything like it before or since. It was loud before the game, during the game, and after the game.

      And when Alexander Wright caught that 44 yard bomb on the opening drive, it was like a huge bomb went off in an already loud stadium. Alabama’s Roger Schultz described it pretty good in the video when he said, “The field was shaking it was so loud.” And it stayed that way till the final horn blew.

      Being there on Dec.2, 1989 still ranks in the top 5 things of my life. The first one was my spiritual conversion, No. 2 was marrying my wife. No.3 and 4 were the birth of my two sons, and ….No. 5 was being at the first Iron Bowl on The Plains. War Eagle!

  3. MyAuburn MyAuburn says:

    That was the loudest I have ever heard Jordon Hare before and since. I was so happy we got the win in Auburn I had a local printer design a symphathy card with a picture of Aubie in a recliner on the front, scoreboard in the background and on the inside it said "Yall come back now, ya hear?" I sent 10 of them to my closest UAT friends. 🙂

  4. WarSamEagle WarSamEagle says:

    I’ve never attended a game before or since that had the type of exhilarating atmosphere as on Dec 2, 1989. The fans were just delirious the whole day. I’ve still got my sign I bought after the game that says, “I was there in Jordan-Hare – 30-20!”

  5. Autgr91 says:

    This game brings back a lot of memories for me as well. I was a member of the Auburn chapter of AIAA at the time, and one of our fund raising activities was staffing one of the parking lots on game days. Our lot was the old parking lot at the corner of what is now Heisman Dr. and South Donahue Dr. (no parking lot now, there's a baseball stadium in the way!).

    We had to be there around 6:30 or so in the morning to open the lot and check parking permits, but it was a pretty easy gig and you got a free ticket to the game and a great front row spot to Tiger Walk.

    To this day, I've never experienced a Tiger Walk like that one. It was like I had never seen before or since-the air was alive with electricity and hope. We were supposed to wait until kickoff to leave our station, but with about 5 minutes left before kickoff we couldn't take it any longer and ran up the hill to the gates.

    When I exited the concourse and entered the stadium, I knew without a doubt that there was no way Alabama was going to win on that day. It seemed that there was a light fog of sorts filling the stadium, and I soon realized that the air was filled with dust/fine paper particles from the orange and blue shakers (this was pre plastic shaker era, so they were made with wooden sticks and strips of crepe paper!) that the 98k+ fans were frantically shaking.

    I've never seen JHS, or any other venue for that matter, filled with such emotion. Loudest event that I've ever experienced. Others have expanded on the game itself, so I'll cut this trip down memory lane short. Suffice it to say that I will never forget that day or the joy and relief that I felt. Thanks for the trip this morning Jay!

  6. This game never gets old. Thanks Jay for the post. Always enjoy everything you write, just wish we could read some of your editorials again.

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