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The Auburn - Alabama Football Rivalry

Updated on July 5, 2017
MariaMontgomery profile image

Maria is a Master Gardener, public health educator, grant-writer, artist, photographer, editor, & proofreader. She lives in coastal Alabama.

A House Divided -- All Too Common in the SEC


The SEC's Favorite Time of Year Is Just Around the Corner!

There's nothing like SEC football. The 2015 football season is well under way. Long before there is a slight chill in the air, the crows are roaring, cheering their favorite school's team. But soon we will have what we affectionately refer to as football weather.

For some this all means a house divided for the next few months, and there will be some football widows, but mostly everyone will be excited. Motorhomes are ready. Tailgating menus have been planned. Airline tickets and hotel reservations are already made. Football is foremost in the minds of some of my own Facebook Friends.

The Greatest Intra-State Football Rivalry in the U.S.

This football rivalry is not the oldest. That would be the Auburn - Georgia rivalry, having begun in 1892 (Auburn prevailed 10 - 0); but it is the greatest. The first Auburn - Alabama football game that ever took place was played on February 22, 1893, on a site in Birmingham known, at the time, as "the Base Ball Park". Records show that the University of Alabama's "Tuskaloosa squad" played the "Orange & Blue" of the Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Auburn University). Approximately 5,000 fans turned out for the big game -- a huge crowd at the time. Auburn carried the day with a score of 32 to 22. Thus began the Auburn - Alabama football rivalry, the greatest rivalry in all of college football. At the time, that game was reported to be the greatest football game ever played in Birmingham. If they'd only known what they were starting ....

Historic Marker in Birmingham, AL


Little Known Historical Marker

The State of Alabama's Historical Commission has placed a historical marker on the site of that first game located on what is now Clairmont Avenue. The marker states that "the victory cup" was presented to the school by "a Birmingham belle". The site is now a lovely park.

Almost a hundred years later, when asked what all the fuss was about, and told "it's only a game", the much loved late Southern columnist, comedian, and sometimes actor, Lewis Grizzard replied, "Au contraire, it's not just a game. It's our way of life against their's." If you remember episodes of "Designing Women", Lewis played the brother of Julia and Suzanne Sugarbaker. He wrote several books of his wonderfully witty essays on life in the South. Southerners adore him.

Kathy Sue Loudermilk I Love You
Kathy Sue Loudermilk I Love You
It's hard to choose just one of Lewis's books as my favorite. They are all so very funny.

Here's a Closer Look at That Historic Marker


Yep, Even School-related Birth Announcements


It's Decided at Birth -- No, Really -- It Is

Which team/school you will support with your cheers is usually decided by your parents at the time of your birth. This photo shows some birth announcements that I recently saw at a local gift shop. I'm afraid I would have to choose something more elegant, or more baby-like, that is, if I were going to announce a birth -- which I am not.

I know it may sound crazy to some, but some of our most devout fans take tiny Auburn or Alabama tee-shirts to the hospital for new babies. If not that soon, some of the early baby photos are made with the innocent little bundle clothed in Alabama or Auburn garb. There are some really cute ones and, of course, some not-so-cute ones, too. Collegiate baby clothes, that is.


Baby Booties for the Little Fans

More evidence of our determination to decide for our children which school they will favor. Keep in mind the most important thing is education, not sports. Yeah, yeah, I know...

Tide & Tigers Working Together for a Common Goal
Tide & Tigers Working Together for a Common Goal | Source

Would You Believe Tide & Tigers Working Together for a Common Goal?

This a photo of my copy of The Birmingham News

These two colleges, their students, their graduates, their teams, and their fans have become united over two recent events. First, the poisoning of the 100+ year-old live oaks in Auburn, AL, after Auburn won the 2010 National Championship, and announced during a live talk radio by the culprit on February 16, 2011. Second, the devastating tornado that hit Tuscaloosa, AL, on April 27, 2011. These two events have brought people together like nothing ever has in the history of the state.

While not threatening life and limb of humans or animals, the poisoning of the trees at Toomer's Corner, named by students for Toomer's Drugstore directly across from the entrance to the Auburn University campus, was heartbreaking. Primarily because the huge trees were beautiful, had survived for over 100 years, and had become part of an important tradition for AU students. They even withstood hurricane- and tornado-force winds a few times. Also, because of the curious but beloved tradition of "rolling" them with toilet paper each time Auburn wins a game. A Bama student, who will be forever loved by Auburnites, felt so badly about the destruction of the trees that he started a Facebook page, "Tide for Toomers" and, by March 25, presented a check for $50,000 to help with the attempts to save the beloved trees. That Facebook page soon had over 61,000 followers.

The EF-5 tornado that hit Tuscaloosa, and many other Alabama towns, last April, took 247 lives in Alabama, over 50 of them in Tuscaloosa alone, destroyed homes and business, and scarred communities, not only physically, but emotionally. Remembering the sincere embarrassment of the Alabama fans over the heinous act of one angry and misguided fan, and the generosity of Alabama students, grads, and fans that followed, Auburn students and athletes went to Tuscaloosa, to help with the clean up. These simple acts of caring and generosity on the part of both college communities have gone far in mending the damage of over-zealous fans on both sides that has existed for years, but has been building over the last few seasons.

Some Auburn students created their own Facebook page "Toomer's for Tuscaloosa" to generate help with the clean up in Tuscaloosa. It now has over 88,00 followers. Auburn students and athletes, wearing their Auburn shirts and jerseys, showed up in Tuscaloosa to work. The people of Tuscaloosa were, of course, grateful and showed their appreciation.

The photo above, however, is of alumni athletes, gathered for the inaugural charity flag football game, "Rivals United for Recovery" to benefit tornado victims. The Bama alumni won this game. No worries, Tigers, there's always next year.

Take This Poll About Our Fan Base

Do you believe the good will between these 2 fan bases will continue into football season?

See results

"As players, we're only rivals for the week of the game, but you guys in the media and [the] fans build it to a fever pitch.... Everyone has to learn to be like us, and go all out, and

then let it go."

Bo Jackson, as quoted

in The Birmingham News

We've Been Away Too Long

We'd Forgotten Just How Passionate It Can Be

My husband and I lived out of state for almost 20 years, and moved back only 2 years ago. We were away so long, we'd forgotten just how exciting this time of year can be; and how ugly it can get. For 15 years, we lived in North Carolina, where basketball is king, and football is just something to do until "roundball" season rolls 'round again. The first year we were there, when autumn arrived, we laughed over a TV commercial advertising Wake Forest football tickets. "That will never happen in Alabama," we said. Tickets for both AU and UA games are hard to come by. Then we lived in Colorado, which is football country, but not with the fervor of the Deep South. Football fans were passionate supporters of their teams, but tickets were easier to get.

These Tide and Tiger fans are true fanatics (the origin of the word "fan"). Some of the most passionate have no connection at all with either school, but will get into arguments and/or even fist fights defending "their" team. In fact, my experience has been that the most easily angered fans have no connection with any college or university at all. After being away for so long, the anger and hatred that pops up occasionally is now even more noticeable than ever, and while I will probably take some flack over this, I have to say it is seems terribly childish. I think that's the thing that bothers me most about all of this. But, mostly, it's all in good, healthy fun. Given all this, it was a wonderful sight to see these grads, fans, and students come together over common goals.

College Football vs. Pro Football

Those are our kids on that field.

While in Michigan about 20 years ago, a man asked me if the reason we Alabamians were such strong supporters of college football was because we couldn't seem to keep a pro team.

I explained that quite the opposite was true: we can't keep a pro football team because we are such strong supporters of college football. Hey! Those are our kids out there. Those are our alma maters. Why would we prefer to cheer for, and watch a bunch of millionaires (many of whom have criminal records) "play" when we can watch and cheer for our own kids?

Take This Poll About Football

Which do you prefer, college football or pro football?

See results

Thank you for reading my article on this great football tradition. Please let me know you stopped by for a visit.

© 2011 MariaMontgomery

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    • MariaMontgomery profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      @takkhisa: Hiu, takkhis! Thank you for the squidlike, and comment on this lens. Now I'll take a look at your lenses.

    • takkhisa profile image


      7 years ago

      Really it is a nice lens.

    • MariaMontgomery profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      @jbush2404: War Eagle, to you, too. Thanks for the squidlike on this lens. It is appreciated.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      War Eagle!!!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great Lens!! Check out my Auburn lenses.....War Damn Eagle!!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great Lens!! Check out my Auburn lenses.....War Damn Eagle!!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Well, today is the big day. Kickoff for the 2011 Iron Bowl is less than an hour away and I can't wait. I'm an Alabama alum and my father played football and basketball for Alabama, so I will be cheering for the Crimson Tide. Roll Tide!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Love lens like this! I'm a big football dude so love reading about rivals. Also, if you like browsing lens as much as I do, mine has a great educational topic with poll questions for my readers to enjoy.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I'm all for enthusiasm but I think that can be accomplished with good sportsmanship. I don't follow college football but I think all could do better in celebrating a win or mourning a loss. I hope the good will that has begun is carried over into the season.

    • Joyce Mann profile image

      Joyce T. Mann 

      8 years ago from Bucks County, Pennsylvania USA

      As a Pennsylvania girl, I am not up to speed w/ Alabama sports. In my state it's always interesting to see the rivalries between the Pittsburgh Steelers (hope I spelled that correctly) and the Philadelphia Eagles. At the college level, Penn State seems to be in a league of its own.

    • tracy-arizmendi profile image

      Tracy Arizmendi 

      8 years ago from Northern Virginia

      Great lens.. I am especially pleased you included how students from each school helped one another in times of need. Recently there has been much said about the corruption of college athletics-especially football. People need to be reminded not all of the athletes (and coaches) are crooks and these kids do many, many good acts for their community and schools. Roll Tide!! :)

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Gee 

      8 years ago

      I love reading about your experience returning to Bama and rediscovering the Alabama/Auburn rivalry. Guess you cannot tell who I pull for ("Bama" and placing UofA first in the rivalry). It is a great football tradition.


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