Tribute to Inaugural Class of Track ‘Em Tigers Football Hall of Fame
Auburn Football is one of the most storied programs in all of college sports. The Tigers have won 11 Conference Championships (7 SEC), seven Divisional Championships, had 12 undefeated seasons, and had nine teams named National Champions by different organizations (although the school only claims the 1957 and 2010 titles).
In addition, the Tigers have had three Heisman Trophy
winners, made 37 bowl appearances (ranking fifth nationally in bowl winning percentage), and is the fifteenthwinningest football program
in Division I history.
So when the SB Nation Mother Ship asked for five nominees for their new college Football Hall of Fame, we thought, “Wow, how can you choose just five names to represent that kind of winning tradition?” The fact SB Nation restricted the nominees to the last 50 years didn’t help much.
After all the Tigers are the ninth most successful program in the last five decades and there have been over a thousand players to wear the orange and blue in that time span. For that reason we turned to our members to help make the selections.
And now the votes are in and the choices have been made. The inaugural class of the Track ‘Em Tigers Hall of Fame is complete and the results have been provided to SB Nation for consideration in their overall class of 20 collegiate greats. However, our staff added three additional names from the earliest days of Auburn football to lay the foundation for a continuous TET College Football Hall of Fame.
The first Track ‘Em Tigers class includes:
John Heisman – Auburn’s first full-time head coach was hired in 1895. He coached for five years on the Plains posting a 12-4-2 record. Everyone who know’s anything about college football is aware that the sport’s top player award is named in honor of the legendary coach. And until the present day, Auburn remains the only school where Heisman coached to have a player win the Heisman Trophy: (Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson, and Cam Newton).
Jimmy Hitchcock (QB/RB/Pk) 1930 -32. Auburn’s first All-American in both football and baseball, Jimmy played quarterback, running back, and punter. Known as “The Phantom of Union Springs,” Hitchcock led the Tigers to the Southern Conference Championship his senior years scoring 71 points and finished his Auburn career having punted 232 times without having a single one blocked.
He is a member of both the College Football Hall and the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. After a professional baseball career, he served as an Auburn assistant football coach and as the Tigers’ head baseball coach. Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park, is named in honor of Jimmy and his younger brother Billy.
Walter Gilbert (OL/LB) 1934 – 1936. A member of The College Football Hall of Fame and the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, Gilbert is the only three time Auburn All-American. He participated in Auburn’s first two bowl games. And he was considered the best center as well as the best linebacker in southern football. Auburn’s distinguished Alumnus award is named in his honor.
Tucker Frederickson (FB/DB) 1962 -1964. Voted as Auburn’s Player of the Century; which really says enough about the athlete that Shug Jordan said was the most complete football player he had ever seen. Jordan also said that Frederickson could have played any position on the field. He played in a time when most played only offense or defense, yet he went both ways.
He played Full back on offense and DB/Safety on defense. He was a consensus All-American and the SEC Most Valuable Player in 1964. A two time winner of the Jacobs Award as the best blocking back in the SEC, he was runner-up for the Heisman. The College Football Hall of Famer was the first overall pick in the 1965 NFL draft by the New York Giants.
(QB) 1969 – 1971. The 1971 Heisman winner broke school and NCAA
records for passing and in 1970 led the NCAA in total offense. In his career, he was responsible for 71 touchdowns (53 passing/18 rushing) to tie the NCAA record. He was part of the greatest tandem in college football history
– “Sullivan to Beasley” will forever remain a familiar phrase to the Auburn faithful.
A College Football Hall of Famer and two-time All-American, he finished his college career holding 24 school records with 6,284 yards passing. A consensus First Team All-American, he was a two time (1970 and 1971) SEC Player of the Year.
Tracy Rocker (DT) 1985 – 1988. The most decorated defensive football player in Auburn and SEC history. He was the first SEC player to win both the Outland and Lombardi awards in the same season. A two-time All-American and three-time All-SEC selection he was named the SEC’s Player of the Year during his senior season.
Rocker was known for striking fear in the hearts of offensive lineman. He tallied 48 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, with 21 sacks and his 354 tackles are the most in Auburn history. In 1992 he was voted to Auburn’s Team of the Century and inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004.
(RB) 1982 – 1985. Bo Jackson may be the greatest athlete to ever wear orange and blue and quite possibly the greatest athlete to ever play college athletics. Sports Illustrated named the three sport Auburn star the third greatest collegiate athlete in history
behind Jackie Robinson (2) and Jim Brown(1).
The most valuable player of the Sugar, Liberty, and Cotton Bowls won the Heisman Trophy in 1985 and was named the National Player of the Year by the Walter Camp Foundation, the Sporting News, and United Press International. Bo was the No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1986. The 1998 College Football Hall of Famer was the first professional two sport player – playing both for the LA Raiders and the Kansas City Royals from 1986 – 1990. Bo is still a big fan favorite today as he garnered half of the votes cast on a seven man TET ballot.
Shug Jordan, (Coach). 1951 – 1975. A three sport letterman for Auburn who was voted the Most Outstanding Athlete at Auburn his senior year. He was a Hall of Fame Coach that took his team to 12 bowl games, produced 176 wins in 24 seasons (making him the winningest Auburn coach in history), a National and SEC championship, a Heisman Trophy winner, an Outland Trophy winner, a slew of All Americans, was named National Coach of the Year, named SEC Coach of the Year four times, and was the first living coach to have a football stadium renamed in his honor.
The football stadium went through three expansions during his tenure, tripling in size, increasing by over 40,000 seats. And he was the man that put Auburn on the map as a national power. Every coach after him (and rightly so) is measured by the yard stick that is Ralph “Shug “Jordan.
We want to express our appreciation to everyone that participated in the process the past few days. You certainly did a good job. After all, there have been hundreds of other worthy nominees to play for the Tigers including 67 All-Americans and over 240 first team All-SEC players. So our eight selections are almost in a class by themselves. But then again … so is Auburn Football.
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