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Sampling the Auburn Past (part 1)

What does a Norwegian hair band from the Eighties have in common with this fellow? We'd like to see performances like them both come back!
(photo:photo via BSO Sports on line)

One evening while working out at the gym, I heard the unmistakable opening keyboard riff of the a-Ha tune “Take On Me” on the gym’s stereo system. However, the music seemed slower and choppier, and then some non-Norwegian guy came on the song and started rapping.

The next time at the gym, I recognized the distinctive theme from the Suzanne Vega hit “Tom’s Diner” coming from the stereo, except it was being hummed by a strange male chorus, followed by a screeching guitar and an even screechier vocal. I couldn’t contain myself and hollered out, in the person of the alleged singers of these two songs, “Gee, I’m not smart enough to write my own song—I’ll just rip off something from the Eighties and hope nobody notices!”

By now, you younger folks probably picture me as nothing more than an old man shaking his metaphorical fist at the punks metaphorically driving past. Lest you continue in that belief, I will tell you that I do know the activity described above is known as “sampling” and that it is a common and accepted practice of music making these days.  Still, the lack of originality in popular entertainment shown by sampling (plus the countless number of movie sequels and “reboots”) does take me aback.

Of course, I realize that these older pieces of entertainment wouldn’t be recycled like they are unless they had an inherent value that made them worth reusing. And thus, at the start of what could be a groundbreaking season for our gridiron gladiators in the Burnt Orange and Navy Blue, I take a break from my review of Auburn traditions to figure out what I would do if I could “sample” up a team from our great history. Just for fun, I’ll add a song from the same year with an appropriate title

Passing Game

AU has seen amazing quarterback play in recent years, but, in terms of representing the Tigers’ greatest passing success, almost all Auburn fans would think first of “Sullivan to Beasley.” In 1971 quarterback Pat Sullivan took home the Heisman Trophy, thanks in no small part to the wide-receiver play of Terry Beasley. These two legends comprised one of the most prolific passing combinations in NCAA history, and I would be glad to take my first sample from that Heisman year (song: “You’ve Got a Friend” by James Taylor).  

 Running Game

AU’s 2013 offense certainly ate up the ground. However, for combined physical and psychological domination in the run game, I would sample a page from the bulldozing 1983 wishbone offense. In addition to watching Bo and company run wild, the most memorable thing to me about that year’s offense was the quality of the second string. Featuring running back Brent Fullwood and a full back-up O-line, the second-team offense often came in as a near-complete unit in the middle of games. In fact, I remember one game versus Florida when the second team came in and drove the ball almost the entire length of the field, just to have the first team come back in and score on the next play (song: “Maneater” by Hall & Oates).

Place Kicking

Auburn has had many heroes win a big game in the last seconds with a dramatic boot through the uprights. I can think of Damon Duval kicking it good in the rain against Florida in 2001, and, of course, Wes Byrum sealing the win for the Tigers in the BCS championship game. However, one of the greatest games in Auburn history would not have happened if it wasn’t for the first and last points scored. I refer to the 1972 Iron Bowl and kicker Gardner Jett. Jett hit a field goal in the fourth quarter to open Auburn’s scoring and was good on both extra points following the “instant replay” punt-block TDs from Newton and Langner, including the final point scored to put AU ahead for good. So, just for a change of pace, I’ll take my last sample from the year of the “Amazins” (song: “Saturday in the Park” by Chicago).

This article is already a little long now, so I think I’ll sample up the defensive side of the ball next week.  Who would you sample up, both football-wise and music-wise?

Michael Val

(Who, as a bonus, presents the most insane ending of a football game ever, even more so than the Kick-Six–here is a play from the CFL that involved our own Damon Duval!)


  1. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..The first time I did that double take from sampling was way back in the late 1980s, when Tone Loc ripped off drum and guitar riffs from Van Halen’s “Jamies Crying.” Loc was much less blatant about it, ripping off clips only a second or two. Come to think of it, those 1980s 12 bit samplers had tiny amounts of memory, and you couldn’t record anything very long…

  2. […] Last week, I looked at the phenomenon of “sampling” and started wondering what kind of team I would put together if I could do like the music industry and “sample” from the great winning tradition of Auburn teams past.  (With last week’s scare, we might all want to conjure up something solid from our history!)  Previously, I looked at the offense; this time, I’ll look at the defense …Defensive Line […]