Auburn Football: Breaking Down Tigers' Nicknames, Battle Cry and Mascots

Ian Berg@@ShugJordanPkwyCorrespondent IJuly 30, 2012

Auburn Football: Breaking Down Tigers' Nicknames, Battle Cry and Mascots

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    Fall practice is set to begin in Auburn in just a few short days. Before practice starts, breaking down the Tigers nicknames, battle cry and mascots is a must. 

    Often people confuse Auburn’s battle cry for a nickname, or misunderstand the meaning of some Auburn traditions that become spotlighted during the football season. This will be a breakdown of the Auburn traditions, shining light on how the traditions landed on the Plains and what they mean to the program and its fans.

    Auburn only has one mascot and one battle cry, but a few nicknames have landed on the Plains since 1892—when Auburn began playing football. The Auburn Family feeds off of the tradition and openly welcomes the many faces used to represent their beloved Tigers. 

    Here is a look at the five nicknames, battle cry and mascot of the Auburn Tigers program. 

Plainsman: Just a Paper or a Brand?

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    The Auburn Tigers may have only one official mascot—the Tigers—but Auburn men are sometimes referred to as “Plainsmen.” The reference of the Plains was taken from Oliver Goldsmith’s poem, The Deserted Village, that begins “SWEET AUBURN! loveliest village of the plain.”

    The Plainsman is also the name of the school newspaper, and the name given to members of an organization that are hosts on game days and for special university events. 

    They are easily spotted in a crowd with their bright orange sport-coats giving them away. 

    The official Auburn University website says that Plainsman is only the name of the school student newspaper, and interestingly makes no reference to the Plainsmen hosts that roam the stands on game day or the old mascot sticker that was found by The War Eagle Reader in 2009.

    Auburn has carried the name Tigers for the entirety of their athletic history, but Plainsmen will always be a word used when referring to Auburn men.

Only One Nickname: The Tigers

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    Auburn has been known as the Tigers since they first fielded a football team against Georgia in Atlanta during the 1892 season.

    Auburn only has one official nickname, and it is the Tigers. The Auburn University website clearly distinguishes the Tigers as the only nickname for Auburn athletics teams. 

    The Tigers nickname is rumored to have been plucked from the same poem that inspired the Plainsman nickname, The Deserted Village, by Oliver Goldsmith. 

    Line 355 of the poem says “Where crouching tigers wait their hapless prey,” which is where the Tigers nickname is rumored to have found its way to Auburn. 

The Battle Cry: War Eagle

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    Auburn has been referred to at times as the “War Eagles” because of the “War Eagle” battle cry that is yelled at games, and used as a greeting between Auburn people in airports, national parks and on game day. 

    “War Eagle” is a battle cry, not a mascot. The Tigers do have an eagle on the sideline of every game that is named Tiger, but Tiger is not the mascot—it is more of an emblem of the Auburn spirit. 

    There are a number of stories that surround the tradition of “War Eagle,” with no single story carrying the distinction as the only true reason the Tigers gained the “War Eagle” battle cry. 

    The most popular—and most repeated—story about the “War Eagle” cry comes from the first football game that Auburn played when the Tigers faced Georgia at Piedmont Park in Atlanta. A Civil War veteran was in attendance with his pet eagle that he had picked up on a battlefield some 30 years prior to the game. 

    According to eyewitness accounts of the game, the pet eagle broke loose right as the Auburn team was making a charge down the field, guiding the Tigers to a victory. The Auburn fans in attendance yelled “War Eagle” and according to the tradition the battle cry was born. 

    Another story that could have led to the battle cry started with a 1914 game against the Carlisle Indians. The Indians were rumored to have a formidable defensive tackle that went by the name Bald Eagle. 

    The Tigers attempted to wear down the inside man and called numerous plays that went in his direction. The quarterback for Auburn would yell “Bald Eagle” before the play, but legend says that Tigers fans heard “War Eagle” and began to chant it during the game, beginning the battle cry tradition. 

    Another story says that the “War Eagle” phrase was born from American Indian lore that labeled the largest golden eagle on the plains the “War Eagle” as the war headdress feathers would be pulled from the large golden eagle. 

    The most outlandish story says that before the 1913 Georgia game, a pep rally was held and a speech from cheerleader Gus Graydon stirred the crowd as he said “If we are going to win this game, we'll have to get out there and fight, because this means war.” Shortly after, a student named E.T. Enslen was in military dress and dropped something from his hat. 

    It was a metal eagle emblem and when asked by a fellow student what it was, Enslen yelled it was a “War Eagle,” and the battle cry was born.

    No one story holds the distinction as the only “War Eagle” story, but that simply adds to the mystique that is the Auburn “War Eagle” tradition.

Let's Go Big Blue, Let's Go!

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    The Auburn Tigers are known as one of the most tradition-rich programs in college football. One of the most glaring distinctions for the Tigers are the orange and blue colors, and their uniforms. 

    Auburn’s primary uniform color is blue. According to the Office of Communications and Marketing at Auburn University, the Tigers home jerseys are officially Blue PMS 289. Even though the official colors are orange and blue, blue is the most used of the two. 

    Auburn even highlights the color blue in two cheers, “Let’s go big blue, let’s go” and Bodda Getta that finishes with the line “kick’em in the butt, big blue.”

    Auburn began an “All-Auburn, All-Orange” tradition in recent years, but when the Gene Chizik era began Auburn returned to the blue starting the “True Blue” tradition. 

    Big Blue is not a formal nickname or even one that is often whispered on the plains outside of cheers, but the big blue tradition will live forever in the pre-game cheers that ring through Jordan-Hare Stadium on game day. 

Aubie: Award Winning Mascot

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    The Auburn mascot, Aubie, was first introduced to Auburn fans in the 1950’s when artist Phil Neal placed Aubie on the cover of the 1957 football media guide. 

    Aubie continued to appear on the cover of programs and on game tickets, finally becoming a life-like mascot in 1979—the tradition was born. Aubie last appeared on the cover of Auburn’s media guide for the 1991 Alabama game, marking the end of the Legion Field era of the Iron Bowl. 

    The Aubie mascot has been named the UCA mascot national champion seven times—most recently winning the title this year on January 13, 2012

    The identity of Aubie is a closely held secret with only the “friends of Aubie” becoming known once their service term ends. Aubie is a favorite member of the Auburn Family and is one of the most recognized mascots in all of college football. 

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