Good (and not so good) Iron Bowl memories

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 14, 2006

For a newspaper, fall is usually one of the busiest times of the year. Want proof? Exhibit A: Football season starts.

High school teams take the field and aim for state championship immortality. And in this state September to January belongs to Auburn and Alabama.

In Alabama, you can't straddle the fence so at an early age I picked Auburn. It was 1981. The Bear broke Amos Alonzo Stagg's all-time career win record, but next year Bo went over the top to halt Bama's streak in the series.

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I'm proud to be an Auburn fan, but I don't take it to the extreme many people do. When the Tigers win, fine. When they loseŠwellŠthat's not fine. But I don't let it occupy my every waking thought.

It's nice that Auburn has beaten Alabama four straight years. It is an ignorant person who thinks that streak will continue forever. Alabama will beat Auburn again. Just as Auburn will beat Alabama again. And so it will go long after all of us are gone.

Since we're on the subject of the Iron Bowl, here are a few of my favorite (and not so favorite) Auburn-Alabama memories:

1985, 25-23 Alabama: Van Tiffin left me sniffing. Quarterback Mike Shula orchestrated a brilliant comeback against a porous Tiger defense. And Van Tiffin's last second field goal beat Auburn for the second year in a row. Hated it.

1986, 21-17 Auburn: Much, much better. Lawyer Tillman was always one of my favorite Auburn players. This time the wide out took a reverse from QB Jeff Burger and galloped his way for a touchdown. The Tigers beat Alabama 21-17. That started a streak of four straight victories over Alabama for Pat Dye's Auburn teams.

1989, 30-20 Auburn: The year Alabama was supposed to walk into Jordan-Hare Stadium and run the Tigers ragged. The Tide was unbeaten, but this was Auburn's day as QB Reggie Slack and wide receiver Alexander Wright hooked up on a series of long bombs. Also the first time the Tide made a visit to Auburn.

1990, 16-7 Alabama: Possibly the most boring Auburn-Alabama game ever. No one could score, everyone on the field looked like they were playing in slow motion and the punters were the most valuable players. The Tide's defense, however, had the upper hand and new coach Gene Stallings paved the way for his National Championship team of 1992.

Speaking of which:

1992, 17-0 Alabama: The end of an era at Auburn as Dye announced his retirement in the midst of the Eric Ramsey recruiting scandal. Bama would beat Florida in the inaugural SEC title game and then Miami in the Sugar Bowl to claim the National Championship.

1993, 22-14 Auburn: I listened to this game via telephone in Norfolk, Va. My father kept the receiver close to the radio. Auburn, banned from television, put together a spectacular season that culminated in a 22-14 win over Alabama. I saw legendary Tigers' play-by-play man Jim Fyffe at an Old Dominion (Norfolk) - Auburn basketball game the next year and thanked him for &#8220painting a picture” of the Tigers' miracle season. Sadly, Fyffe died in 2003.

2005, 28-18 Auburn: Last year's game was beautiful for Tiger fans. By the second quarter, Alabama was done and Tide quarterback Brodie Croyle had spent more time on his backside than he had all year.

Kevin Pearcey is Group Managing Editor of Greenville Newspapers, LLC. He can be reached by phone at 383-9302, ext. 136 or by email at: