To Know Where You Are Going You Have To Know Where You Have Been (Iron Bowl ’89 Edition)
December 2, 1989 as former Coach Pat Dye put it, “It’s going to be the most emotional day in Auburn history.” It was the first time Alabama played a football game in Jordon Hare Stadium and it was just that, emotional!
Once the series was resumed in 1948 after a 41 year break all the games were played in Legion Field in Birmingham. Both the AU and UA stadiums were not the cathedrals they are today it made sense at that time to use the much larger venue in Birmingham. The problem with that for AU was that it was a de-facto home game for Bama. They played 3 to 4 games a year there and it was only an hour from campus. Morris Savage, a former player and trustee said the field was “as neutral as the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.”
Bear Bryant was not willing to give up any competitive advantage he held and Bama dug in. Even after he retired, coach Ray Perkins said, “Alabama will never play in Auburn.” He even said he would support dropping the series before played on the Plains.
The pieces of the puzzle on how to get the game on campus started falling into place when Auburn hired Wyoming coach Pat Dye in 1981. He met with Bryant and the first words out of Bears mouth was, “I guess you’re going to want to move the game”, to which Dye said, We’re going to move the game.” Bryant responded, “Well not as long as I’m coaching” Well, you ain’t going to coach forever, “ said Dye. Bear replied with, “Well, we’ve got a contract through ’88 to which Dye said, “We’ll play ’89 in Auburn. Little did either of them really know that he was dead on.
Alabama came into the game at 10-0 and aiming for a Natty after ruining the first game on the plains but things did not quite go as planned. Dye said, “We had a better football team than Alabama, they just didn’t know it.”
Over 20,000 Auburn fans lined Donahue Drive, fullback James Joseph was hyperventilating in the locker room afterwards, and now sideline reporter Quentin Riggins said, “That was the most electric, emotional Tiger Walk I’ve ever been a part of.” The AU faithful surrounded the Bama buses and rocked them so much, Curry had them pull inside the fence to off load the Bama players.
I will not go into the fine details of the game itself because everyone now knows Auburn won the game 30-20, and sent Bill Curry off to Kentucky. Stacy Danley ran for 130 yards and the AU defense held Bamas star running back Siran Stacey to only 53 yards rushing.
Then Athletic Director, David Housel put it all into perspective when he said, “Like the children of Israel entering the Promised Land, Auburn fans felt they had completed a journey they’d never imagined they would make, to Auburn to see the Alabama game. The children of Israel waited 40 years, Auburn fans had waited longer.”
Stop me if you have heard this one
An Alabama fan walks into the doctor’s office one day with a hat on. He takes off his hat, and the doctor sees that there is a big frog sitting right on top of his head. The doctor looks at the man and asks him why he has a frog sitting on his head. It was the frog who replied “Actually doc, I was the one who wanted to see you. Can you remove this wart off my butt?”