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To See Where You are Going, You Have to Know Where You Have Been

By on May 14th, 2013 in Featured Article, Football 8 Comments »
Heisman

This is the first installment of a regular Tuesday post for me. I want to thank the editors of TET for giving me the chance to hopefully take everyone back into the history of AU. Since I am pretty sure I am the oldest on the staff I have seen some of the things I will write about happen first hand, I just have to remember them. That gets harder with each passing year.

Now, let’s get on with it. Since we have three Heisman statues sitting at AU, I decided that I would start with one of Auburns former coaches, John Heisman. AU is the only school at which he coached that can say they have the trophy bearing his name.

Heisman coached at Auburn from 1895 to 1899 (I know what you are thinking, NO I was not around then), with a record of 12-4-2 and coached the Tigers to their first home win against Georgia Tech. He had a law degree from Pennsylvania and after leaving AU, coached at Clemson (where he took the AU colors and mascot) and Georgia Tech among others. His overall coaching record was 185-68-18…. pretty darn good.

Other later AU coaches were regarded as innovators and gamblers, ie. Gus and Tommy, but Heisman was the first of the forward thinking coaches. In his first AU game he called a “hidden ball trick” which was later banned. The AU quarterback, Reynolds Tichenor, hid the ball underneath his shirt and while the opponent, Vanderbilt, tried to bust up the play he bent over away from the action to tie his shoe. He was totally ignored and waltzed into the end zone for an easy touchdown.

In those days there was no such thing as a dedicated coaching job. They also taught classes and Heisman was an oratory professor. That talent served him well, because he was always getting into it with officials. Rules and officiating were pretty poor then and seemed to be a “make it up as you go along thing. “

During his last year at AU, officials called a game because of darkness, even though the sun had not set. AU was leading Georgia at the time 11-6 but the officials ruled the game a 0-0 tie. Heisman was infuriated and appealed the decision to the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The decision was overruled and the 11-6 win was reinstated.

Heisman was also the pioneer of the forward pass. When scouting a game he watched a desperate punter fling the ball over the line to a teammate who ran for a touchdown.  He wrote, “violent scrums based around bruising running plays were “killing the game as well as the players” He said the forward pass would, “Scatter the mob”

His gift of gab also gave birth to some quotes that were locker room jewels. On tackling…”Thrust your projections into their cavities, grasping them about the knees and depriving them of their means of propulsion. They must come to earth, locomotion being denied.” Seems that would work pretty well today. 

On maintaining possession…”A football is a prolate spheroid, an elongated sphere in which the outer leather casing is drawn up tightly over a somewhat smaller rubber tubing. Better to have died as a small boy than to have fumbled this football.” Pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it.

On the job of a head coach…”A coach should be masterful and commanding, even dictatorial. He has no time to say ‘please’ or ‘mister’. At times he must be severe, arbitrary, and a little short of a czar.” Can you think of a few coaches that description fits?

I intend to close each of my posts with, “Stop me if you’ve heard this one” Classic Auburn-Alabama jokes, some of which will be funny, some not, and I hope to elicit several chuckles, LOL’s, and a bunch of groans.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one

A UAT professor was yelling at his class because they were so incredibly lazy. I wouldn’t be surprised if 50% of you failed this math class. The class was mostly football players and one of them raised his hand and said, “But professor, there aren’t that many in this class”

An Auburn student and his girlfriend were walking through the park. She stopped and said, “Awww look at the dead birdie. The Auburn student looked up and said, “Where”

8 Comments

  1. KungFuPanda9 KungFuPanda9 says:

    Good stuff. Look forward to your weekly column.

  2. GreenvilleAUfan GreenvilleAUfan says:

    John Heisman deserves a statue outside Jordan-Hare.

    Enjoyed the read MyAuburn

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..They did put a Heisman bust and plaque out there the same time they put up the statues of Pat, Bo and Cam.

  3. Todd92 Todd92 says:

    Good read myauburn and I look forward to your next post….. One small thing though, Walter Merrit Riggs left AU and took AU’s Mascot and old uniforms to Clemson.

    • MyAuburn MyAuburn says:

      OOPS, almost. You are correct sir but some historians award the distinction to Heisman. After reading about Riggs I tend to believe that account other than the others crediting it to Heisman.

      WOW, another controversy, shocking :)

  4. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..The one thing I think that keeps Heisman and some of the other early Auburn coaches from being more popular is that most of them left for better-paying jobs. Heisman went to Georgia Tech, Donahue went to LSU, and Wynne left for Kentucky. Auburn University (A.P.I.) as it was known back then, was not the monied giant you see these days. Back in the late 1800s, and through the Great Depression there was one financial crisis after another, and at times the school was in danger of folding and disbanding. Paying a football coach was never on the list of priorities back then.

    …..Good piece, MyAuburn! Finding information about that era isn’t easy.

    • Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

      Agree really good piece. Looking forward to next week.

  5. MyAuburn MyAuburn says:

    Thanks to all, it was fun putting this together.