10 Things That the Auburn Football Program Has Done Really Well Historically
Today, despite conventional wisdom, I decided to listen to the Paul Finebaum show. Was it a stupid move, as it just about always is? Absolutely. Did somebody say something that made me angry? As always.
A caller from Oklahoma referred to Auburn's football program as a "Johnny-come-lately." Really? He thinks the Auburn Tigers are a Johnny-come-lately? Oregon, they fit that role. Boise State does as well. But Auburn?
I'm aware that Auburn isn't exactly Alabama. Alabama claims 13 national titles, 22 SEC titles and now even has a Heisman Trophy winner to their name. But here's a news flash: Most programs aren't Alabama.
However, to call Auburn a Johnny-come-lately because they don't claim 10-plus national titles is pretty uninformed. Here's a good history lesson for you, Oklahoma caller and others who feel like he does.
Producing No. 1 Overall NFL Draft Picks
Auburn has had five players selected No. 1 overall in the NFL draft, tied for first with USC and Notre Dame.
It all started in 1961, when guard Ken Rice was drafted by the Buffalo Bills.
The next Tiger selected with the top pick was RB Tucker Frederickson, who was selected by the New York Giants in the 1965 draft.
Just over two decades later, Auburn's greatest player, RB Bo Jackson, was drafted first by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1986 draft. Because the Bucs had given Bo an impermissible benefit while he was still playing baseball at Auburn, he was ruled ineligible, ending his sports career at Auburn. He returned the favor by refusing to sign with NFL franchise.
Just two drafts later, in 1988, LB Aundray Bruce was taken by the Atlanta Falcons with the top spot. He didn't have much success, sadly.
Finally (though given Auburn's history, it won't be the last time), in the 2011 NFL draft, the Carolina Panthers selected QB Cam Newton, who scored 51 touchdowns and went 14-0 in his only season at Auburn.
Beating the SEC's Top Programs
In the SEC, outside of Auburn, the most historic football programs are Alabama, Tennessee, LSU, Florida, Georgia, Arkansas and Ole Miss.
Historically, Auburn leads five of those seven teams.
Auburn leads the Georgia Bulldogs all-time, 54-52-8, in the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry. Their last meeting was in 2010, when the Tigers won 49-31.
The Tigers also lead the Tennessee Volunteers, 27-21-3. The last meeting was a 26-22 Auburn victory in 2009 at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.
Auburn leads the series with the Florida Gators, 42-38-2. The last meeting was in 2007, where Wes Byrum made his first-career game-winning field goal to upset the fourth-ranked Gators.
Auburn leads Arkansas, 11-8-1. The last meeting was a 65-43 Auburn win in 2010. The Tigers also have a big historical lead over the Rebels of Ole Miss, 26-9. The last meeting was a 51-31 Tiger win in 2010.
The only SEC teams that Auburn doesn't have a winning advantage over are Alabama, LSU and (maybe the most embarrassing stat at Auburn) Vanderbilt. Hey, the Tigers have won 13 of 14 against Vanderbilt, and the 'Dores only have one win against Auburn since 1953, so....
Winning Heisman Trophies
On Dec. 11, 2010, Auburn QB Cam Newton, who had accounted for 49 touchdowns during the Tigers' first 13 games, was awarded the Heisman Trophy in a landslide over Stanford's Andrew Luck, Boise State's Kellen Moore and Oregon's LaMicheal James.
Newton became the third Tiger to win the prestigious award, as Pat Sullivan took the award home in 1971 and Bo Jackson won the most significant individual award in sports in 1985.
Auburn's three Heisman Trophies is tied for the most in the SEC with the Florida Gators.
Playing Dominant Defense
Auburn has always been known for having an absolutely dominant defense.
Throughout history, Auburn's defense has featured players like Tracy Rocker, Karlos Dansby, Carlos Rogers, Quentin Groves, Aundray Bruce, Nick Fairley, Zeke Smith, DeMarco McNeil, Travis Williams, Josh Bynes, Willie Whitehead, Brian Robinson, Takeo Spikes, Chris Shelling, Kurt Crain, Antonio Coleman and Junior Rosegreen.
The Tigers have always played team-oriented defense, rather than relying on one person to do all the work. Some good examples of great Auburn defenses would be some of the team's most recent unbeaten seasons.
In 2004, the Tigers gave up about 11 points per game. The 1993 team gave up 17 points per game. If you want to go back really far, the 1957 and 1958 teams gave up a combined average of about four points per game.
Sure, the 2010 defense wasn't the spectacular defense Auburn usually sees in its championship seasons, but one must look at the BCS National Championship Game. Auburn held Oregon, who had one of the best offenses in college football history, to 19 points. The Ducks came in averaging over 300 rushing yards per game... they left University of Phoenix Stadium with 75 rushing yards.
Auburn's defense is historically among the nation's elite.
Producing Countless Great Running Backs
Auburn, along with USC and Ohio State, is known as "Running Back U." This means, obviously, that the school has produced many great running backs.
Notable running backs at Auburn include: Bo Jackson, Rudi Johnson, Brent Fullwood, Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown, James Brooks, Ben Tate, Stephen Davis, Joe Cribbs, Tucker Frederickson, James Bostic, Lionel James, William Andrews, Kenny Irons, James Joseph and Stacy Danley.
Yeah.... I'd say that's a pretty good list of running backs.
Having Undefeated Seasons
The Tigers only claim two national titles, but they could claim a lot more with some love from the voters.
Auburn has had seven undefeated and untied seasons (1900, 1904, 1913, 1957, 1993, 2004 and 2010).
Since 1993, no team in America has more undefeated seasons than Auburn, who has three. Nebraska has three unbeaten seasons in this span as well.
When it comes to the number of undefeated, untied seasons, Auburn has more than every SEC school except the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Winning at Jordan-Hare
Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium, the sixth-largest on-campus stadium in the country, is often an intimidating place to play for opponents.
The 87,451 fans have helped Auburn post a 285-71-7 record at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Tigers have a winning record at Jordan-Hare against every SEC team except the Georgia Bulldogs.
Winning Bowl Games
On Jan. 10, 2011, the No. 1 Auburn Tigers beat the No. 2 Oregon Ducks 22-19 to win the BCS National Championship.
It was not only Auburn's second national title, it was also the program's 21st bowl victory. The Tigers have a 21-13-2 bowl record, giving them the nation's 15th-most bowl appearances, 12th-most bowl wins and the ninth-best bowl winning percentage.
In these bowl games, the Tigers have defeated notable programs like USC, Oregon, Nebraska, Clemson, Michigan, Texas, Penn State, Ohio State, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin.
Auburn has won four consecutive bowl games, from the 2007 Cotton Bowl win over the Cornhuskers of Nebraska to the prior-mentioned BCS National Championship Game win over Oregon.
Sending Players and Coaches to the Hall of Fame
The Tigers have put a fair share of great players and coaches into the College Football Hall of Fame, which will soon be relocated from South Bend, Indiana, to Atlanta, Georgia.
A whopping four former Auburn coaches are in the Hall of Fame: "Iron Mike" Donahue, Ralph "Shug" Jordan, Pat Dye and some person named John Heisman. Any argument for Auburn being a Johnny-come-lately dies right there. The legendary John Heisman did in fact coach at Auburn University.
Auburn has sent eight players to the Hall of Fame: Jimmy Hitchcock, Walter Gilbert, Pat Sullivan, Tucker Frederickson, Bo Jackson, Terry Beaseley, Tracy Rocker and Ed Dyas.
Filling the Jordan-Hare Stands
Jordan-Hare Stadium seats 87,451 fans, and trust me, when it's a big game, this place is very, very loud.
Several ESPN analysts, including Tom Luginbill and Micheal Wilbon, have stated that when Jordan-Hare gets loud, it's difficult to find any stadium in the country that's louder.
The fans never sit down and always yell whenever the defense is on the field. It figures the crowd is pumped up, seeing as they've already experienced the traditions of Tiger Walk and War Eagles earlier before kick-off.
"The Jungle" is one of the toughest places in America to play.