Auburn Football: Ranking the 12 Greatest Traditions in Tiger Football History
Every university has what it would consider traditions that are a part of their culture, and in most cases they go back decades and even more than a century.
These traditions are physical or even intangible things that create a sense of togetherness, goose bumps and evoke emotions within the fans and players.
Traditions like this basically create solidarity between the team and the fans and allows everyone to be a part of their university.
At Auburn there are so many traditions that it’s hard to determine which ones to include in this ranking.
So, I broke it down to the ones that mean the most when it comes to evoking that sense of emotion and being one with the football team.
I’m sure I’ve probably missed Auburn traditions that some fans may take exception to, but please leave a comment to this article if you feel strongly about one, and this could be an evolving series.
12. Bodda Getta, Bodda Getta
I’ve never met an Auburn fan that didn’t know Bodda Getta. It’s a cheer that is clearly and distinctly Auburn’s.
Legend has it that Bodda Getta was something the Auburn band cooked up somewhere in the late 60s or early 70s when the legendary Shug Jordan was head coach.
In fact, the band was the only group to do it, and it was called the “Band Cheer” back then.
Another story is that it started with another legendary Auburn coach Pat Dye, when he was describing the first time Auburn played Alabama.
I personally believe it was the band myself, but wherever it started, it has become legendary and fans will do it anywhere, like the Phoenix airport before the BCS championship game last year, or even at a McDonalds.
And like the phrase War Eagle!, parents will teach their children the cheer from birth.
When you hear it, you'll find you can use the first phrase with anything, like “It’s been a Bodda Getta Summer”, or, “We’re having a Bodda Getta BBQ.
So, without further explanation, here’s the cheer.
Bodda Getta, Bodda Getta, Bodda Getta Bah
Weagle-Weagle War Damn Eagle,
Kick 'em in the butt (ass) Big Blue -- Hey!"
There is an optional ending, which replaces the “Hey!” with “Waaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrr Eagle, Hey!
I could go into the suggestion that the third line can be spelled “Wegl, Wegl”, which actually would be a reference to the campus radio station, WEGL, and rumor has it that the cheer was written by a drunken DJ, but the cheer comes with both spellings.
11. Track ‘em Tigers
This is another cheer that is legendary in the Tiger fan repertoire.
Interestingly enough, it surfaced about the same time as “Bodda Getta.”
The two cheers are unique to Auburn tradition and parents teach both of them to their toddlers from the time they can speak.
Check out little Stella here.
The Cheer goes something like this:
Track ‘em Tigers, Just Like Beagles
Give ‘em Hell, You War Damn Eagles, Hey!
There is emphasis on the word Hell. Of course, with any cheer there is the optional “Waaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrr Eagle, Hey!” at the end. It all depends on your audience and the venue.
10. The Tiger Walk
The Auburn Tiger Walk has become “the most copied tradition in all of college football.” Almost every college has taken to doing some kind of walk of their team to the stadium, but Auburn created it.
It started in the 1960s when groups of kids would walk up the street to greet the team to get autographs as they left the athletic dorm at that time, Sewell Hall.
Now, it has become one of the most important events of Auburn home games and the fans make a point of taking it on the road as well.
Basically it happens two hours before kickoff, with thousands of Auburn fans lining Donahue Drive to cheer on the team as they walk from the Auburn Athletic Complex to Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Head coach Gene Chizik encourages fans to come out for the walk, and relishes being a part of it, high-fiving and chest bumping fans along the route. He said on his first Tiger Walk, he was drenched with sweat by the time he got to the stadium.
To date, the largest Tiger Walk at home occurred on December 2, 1989, before the first-ever home game with Alabama. Auburn took that contest 30-20, even though the Tide was ranked No. 2 and undefeated, like this year.
On that day, an estimated 20,000 fans packed the one block section of road leading to the stadium.
In Phoenix for the BCS National Championship game, it is estimated that upwards of 25-thousand fans created an impromptu Tiger Walk.
At home or away, the Tiger Walk is a major part of AU tradition and a boost for the team before any game.
9. The Auburn – Georgia Game
I know that you think of Alabama as the archenemy of Auburn, and you would be correct.
But many non-Auburn fans may not be aware there is a rivalry that has brewed since 1892, and the conflict burns almost as deep as playing the Crimson Tide.
Auburn-Georgia is considered the Deep South’s oldest rivalry and the two teams have played each other every year since 1898, with the exception of 1943 when Auburn didn’t have a team due to World War II.
Auburn barely leads the series 54-52-8.
As the two teams face the 115th meeting on November 12 this year, both are evenly matched with the Tigers in a rebuilding year, and the Bulldogs struggling early, but making major improvements by midseason.
This will be a great game, and as a rivalry, analysis can go out the window, as the tradition continues.
8. The Auburn – Alabama Game
What can you say about the Iron Bowl?
It's a contention in which the preceding games of the season mean nothing, and all the taunting that went on during the season comes to one big climax.
Who am I kidding, the taunting goes on year round, but it does truly come to head for this game.
It all started in 1893, but came to a screeching halt in 1907, when tensions between the schools got high in a dispute over officials for the games and players’ expenses. Yes, players were paid back then.
The legislature finally got involved in 1947, 40 years later, encouraging the schools to renew their contest, and in 1948, they finally ended the disagreement and started playing again, only at a neutral spot, Birmingham, Alabama.
In 1989, the Tigers started hosting their home games in Auburn, but the Tide continued to play their home games in Birmingham until 2000.
In that first Auburn home game, the Tide came into Jordan-Hare Stadium, unbeaten and ranked No. 2 in the country. Sound familiar?
A No. 11 Auburn came out on top in that contest 30-20 and spoiled 'Bama’s chances for an outright SEC Championship.
Alabama now leads the overall series, 40-34-1, and this year they will come onto the Plains again for this legendary rivalry.
They will probably be where they are today, ranked No. 2 and undefeated, playing Auburn at home.
As they always say, in this matchup, you can throw out the records, the statistics and let the rivalry begin.
7. The War Eagle Roar on Kickoffs
This is one of the most impressive uses of the war cry, War Eagle.
Ahead of that, you really have to get into the phrase War Eagle, and where it came from. I will do that in a future slide, but this ranking has to do with this particular use of the war cry.
It starts when both teams line up for the kickoff with a sustaining roar on the word War, hands waving a circle in the air.
As the kicking team approaches the ball, the roar gets louder, and as the kicker’s foot touches the ball, the crowd yells …Eagle, Hey!, at the top of their lungs, dropping their hand down on Eagle and back up on Hey!.
I imagine the Hey is timed so that it strikes some confusion into the heart of the person receiving the kick, or at least I think that is the intention.
Aubie is one of the most animated mascots in all of NCAA football, and he has won more national mascot championships than any other collegiate mascot.
Aubie was first seen as a cartoon character on an Auburn football program back in 1959. He was the product of Birmingham Post-Herald artist Phil Neel and that cartoon character adorned football programs for 18 years.
Over the years his look changed, with him standing upright and he started wearing clothes in 1963.
That was seen as a good luck charm as Shug Jordan’s Tiger football team went 23-2-1 for their home record when Aubie adorned the cover like that. This was over a six-year period.
Auburn’s home record over the entire 18 years that Aubie was on the cover was 63-16-2.
Aubie, the mascot was created in 1979 with the costume makers from Disney and Saturday Night Live.
His character is mischievous, funny, animated and he can dance with the best of them.
For 32 years Aubie has been a tradition Auburn would find it hard to live without.
5. Flying of the Eagle
Sports Illustrated chose the Flying of the Eagle before Auburn games as No. 2 in the best college football traditions. But I must digress a bit first.
This is as good a place as any to talk about the phrase War Eagle.
It dates back to when Auburn and Georgia played their first game in 1892.
There was a spectator at the game, who had a pet eagle with him, and he just happened to be a veteran of the Civil War. He supposedly had the eagle as a pet for over 30 years.
The eagle broke free from his master and began majestically circling the field at the same time Auburn was marching toward the Georgia end zone, and quite successfully winning the game.
The students were thrilled to say the least and they took the bird's presence as an omen of success.
So, the Auburn students and fans began to yell War Eagle to spur on their team.
At the game's end, the eagle took a sudden dive, crashed into the ground, and died.
But, the battle cry War Eagle lived on to become a symbol of the proud Auburn spirit.
There are many other stories about where the phrase War Eagle came from, but this one is the most likely and popular as to it's origin.
Flying of a real eagle as part of the opening ceremony has been a recent addition to football games starting in 2000. Prior to that, an eagle was present, but always on the sideline with a handler.
The flying eagles themselves are Tiger, Nova and Spirit and they live in the Auburn Raptor Center, which is part of Auburn University, a full service raptor rehabilitation center complete with medical facilities dedicated to eagles, hawks and other birds of prey.
You really have to be there to get the goose bumps, but here’s a video so you can see what it’s all about.
4. The War Eagle Fight Song
After every score, the band leads the crowd in the War Eagle Fight Song.
It is also played on the Samford Carillon in the clock tower of Samford Hall, every day at noon.
Robert Allen and Al Stillman wrote the song between 1954 and 1955.
The first performance was in the 1955 season opener against Chattanooga, performed by the Jordan Vocational High School Band.
Somehow it took hold and today every Auburn fan has these lyrics ingrained on the brain:
War...Eagle, fly down the field.
Ever to conquer, never to yield.
War...Eagle, fearless and true.
Fight on, you orange and blue.
Go! Go! Go!
On to vict'ry, strike up the band.
Give 'em hell, give 'em hell;
Stand up and yell, Hey! War...Eagle win for Auburn,
Power of Dixie Land!
3. Rolling Toomer’s Corner
At the center of the small southern town of Auburn is Toomer's Corner, where the Auburn University campus meets the town of Auburn, and where College Street intersects Magnolia Avenue.
It has long been the place to gather for Auburn athletic celebrations, and a bustling place to gather period, with all the upscale restaurants, bars and shops. And, of course there's Toomer's Drug Store, where you have to stop in for Toomer's handmade lemonade, a tradition in itself.
After any football win, and significant victories in other sports, Auburn students, alums and citizens all join forces to paper the trees at Toomer's Corner with toilet paper.
Celebrations after significant football victories can go on for hours and leave the heart of town looking like a blizzard passed through.
Such was the case after the BCS Championship win, and it doesn’t have to be a home game to warrant the papering.
The story of how the rolling started centers around Toomer’s Corner always being a place where the town and the students celebrated victories at Auburn.
One story has to do with when Auburn was playing away games and reporting on the game came through on ticker tape, much like you’d see on Wall Street back in the 1920s.
At the end of the game all the ticker tape would be thrown on the trees, which later changed to toilet paper.
The 130-year-old Toomer’s oak trees have been involved in controversy lately, when last year, after the Alabama game and an Auburn win, some mentally challenged Crimson Tide fan named Harvey Updyke, allegedly poisoned the trees with herbicide because Auburn had won the game.
Updyke is still awaiting trial, but the trees are showing signs of dying, although Auburn, a land-grant and agricultural school, is trying to save them.
In the meantime, the rolling of Toomer’s Corner trees continues, as long as they’re still standing.
2. Auburn Family – All In
The Auburn Family has always been the way that the Auburn students felt about their relationship with the university.
Head football coach Gene Chizik made that real for them by including the students very closely within his football program.
Football players who were considered off limits before were now a part of the mainstream and vice versa, the students were brought into sharing the program and the plan as part of the Auburn Family.
The All-In part really started in 2010 as the team kept winning game after game, against all odds, and coming from behind a majority of the time.
It continues to be their mantra as the slogan has stuck and is very powerful in terms of motivation, on the field and off.
1. War Eagle as a Greeting
One of the most remarkable things about a particular tradition at Auburn is the use of the phrase War Eagle as a greeting.
No matter where in the world you go, you’ll find somebody from Auburn and the verbal exchange War Eagle, opens up the most tight-lipped person.
The reason this is the No. 1 tradition is the fact that if you wear orange, blue, the AU logo, or Tiger shirt at the Vatican, the Riviera, or Sao Paulo, Brazil or anywhere else in the world, you’re bound to get a War Eagle from someone, and discover what a truly global community this is.
It’s related to the AU family, and believe me I’ve witnessed it having lived all over the US, always running into someone with Auburn gear on, and a War Eagle from me, a War Eagle from them and the conversation starts.
And, if you can’t get together with your buds in Auburn, you’re bound to find Auburn Clubs wherever you happen to land.
Even in Atlanta, where Georgia red, and Go Dawgs abounds, the Bucket Shop in the Buckhead section of Atlanta is wall-to-wall orange and blue on Saturdays watching the Tigers no matter where they are.
And it’s the same in New York, Philadelphia or any city you might imagine. And what does everyone say when they’re coming in the door, War Eagle! It makes an Auburn fan feel right at home.