The Iron Bowl

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This rivalry goes by the title of “The Iron Bowl.” The name conjures images of gritty blue-collar men working in blazing hot steel foundries. In fact, the name comes from the iron and steel industry located in Birmingham, the home of the rivalry for 44 straight games, and the intensity and heat associated with the rivalry make the name even more appropriate. The University of Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn University Tigers battle one another to the death each season in the Iron Bowl game. Auburn College Football Hall of Fame coach Ralph “Shug” Jordan came up with the moniker before the 1980 contest. The venom and disdain that the fans from one side have for the other do not just commence during the days leading up to the game, as in most rivalries, but rage on every day of the year. Alabama fans refer to Auburn people as “Barners,” in reference to Auburn’s early years as an agricultural school, while Auburn fans claim that Alabama’s most famous graduate is Forest Gump.

Justin Hokanson, in a 2008 article for “bleacherreport.com,” breaks down the rivalry within families.

Brothers and sisters watch the game in separate rooms, maybe even separate houses,

because they don’t want to kill each other in the process. Parents and children don’t

talk to each other. There are even parents that don’t allow their children to go to one

school or the other simply because they graduated from the rival school.

Alabama leads the series 45-35-1. Auburn won the first two games in 1893 in Birmingham, then Montgomery. Alabama picked up its first win in 1894 in Montgomery while Auburn took the next two in Tuscaloosa and Montgomery. The series took a brief hiatus from 1896 through 1899 before resuming in 1900. The schools then met every year through the 1907 game, after which the series ended for almost 40 years. At that time, Auburn led the series 7-4-1 and the games had been played in Birmingham the last four years. The University of Alabama is much closer to Birmingham than Auburn and Auburn officials demanded more per diem for the players. Auburn also wanted to allow more players to travel for the game and a different process for choosing the officials for the game. Alabama officials would not agree to any of Auburn’s demands and the series ended.

After pressure from the state legislature, the two school presidents agreed to re-start the series in 1948 in Birmingham because 44,000-seat Legion Field was the largest stadium in the state. Before the game, the presidents of the respective student government associations buried a hatchet in Woodrow Wilson Park to represent the end of the argument. Alabama proceeded to win the game 55-0, the most lopsided victory in the series.

The game remained in Birmingham through the 1988 contest, after which Auburn moved its home games to Auburn. Alabama continued to hold its home game in the series at Legion Field through 1998 but began hosting Auburn in Tuscaloosa in 2000 after the expansion of Bryant-Denny stadium to over 80,000 seats. The games have rotated between the two campuses since then. Alabama owns a 34-18-1 record in games played at Legion Field, while Auburn is 7-4 in Tuscaloosa and 8-5 in Auburn.

The winner of each game receives the Foy-ODK Sportsmanship trophy, named after James E. Foy, a former dean at both schools and the Faculty Secretary of  Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society at both schools. The trophy is presented at halftime of the winner’s home basketball game against the loser. After the presentation, the Student Government Association president from the losing school sings the winning school’s fight song. Granted, the singing sessions may have had many memorable moments over the years but probably will not top any of the memories from the gridiron battles.

The 1967 game at Legion Field became known as the “Run in the Mud.” With Auburn leading Alabama 3-0 in a torrential downpour in the fourth quarter, Tide quarterback Ken Stabler broke loose for a 53-yard touchdown that gave the Tide the lead and an eventual 7-3 victory.

The 1981 game, also at Legion Field, became the 315th career victory for Alabama Hall of Fame coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.  Alabama won 28-17.  Bryant passed Amos Alonzo Stagg for career wins for a Division IA coach.

Freshman Bo Jackson broke Auburn’s nine-game losing streak in the series in 1982. With the Tigers trailing 22-17 late in the fourth quarter, Jackson, on fourth-and-goal, took a handoff from quarterback Randy Campbell, then leaped on top of the Tide defense before stretching the ball over the goal line. Auburn broke the streak with a 23-22 victory.

For Auburn fans, the second most memorable game in the series may have occurred in 1989. With the addition of the west upper deck in 1980 and the east upper deck in 1987, Jordan-Hare Stadium reached a capacity of over 85,000 seats, the largest stadium in Alabama at that time. Auburn fans always felt Legion Field was a home-field advantage for the Tide. Now that the school had a stadium bigger than Legion Field, the time was right to move their home games in the series to Auburn. After the 1987 game, Auburn athletics director and coach Pat Dye requested that all future Auburn home games in the series be moved to Jordan-Hare. The first game in Auburn took place on December 2, 1989. With over 85,000 rabid Tiger fans in attendance, Auburn beat Alabama, 30-20. After the game, a member of the media asked Dye what it felt like leading the team on to the field. Dye responded, “I’m sure that (the scene) must have resembled what went on the night the wall came down in Berlin. I mean, it was like (Auburn fans) had been freed, and let out of bondage, just having this game at Auburn.”

The 2009 game in Auburn was a different story. Undefeated Alabama trailed a 7-4 Auburn team into the fourth quarter, but the Tide went on a seven minute, 15-play, 80-yard drive to take the lead, 26-21. Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy hit receiver Julio Jones four times during the drive and finished it with a four yard pass to running back Roy Upchurch for the go ahead touchdown with 1:24 on the clock. The Tide defense turned away a last minute Auburn drive to secure the victory. Alabama then beat Florida in the Southeastern Conference Championship (SEC) game before besting Texas for the national title.

Finally, the most memorable game for Auburn fans and arguably the most memorable game in series history is the game known as the “Kick Six.” With the 2013 contest tied 28 all at Jordan-Hare, Alabama lined up for a 57-yard field goal with one second on the clock. A Tide victory would send Alabama to the SEC Championship game and a possible chance for a fourth national title in five years. Alabama kicker Adam Griffith’s attempt fell short and Auburn corner back Chris Davis caught it. As Davis began to run up the field, Alabama’s defenders seemed to be caught off guard, unsure if the play was still live. Indeed it was. Davis outran the few defenders trying to stop him for a 109-yard touchdown with no time on the clock. Auburn won the game 34-28, shocking the Tide and the rest of the college football world.

Intensity, heat, bitterness, and pride are some of the words that describe the emotions of the Iron Bowl. This rivalry is more than just a game. It is a way of life for people in the state of Alabama. For the victors, a certain satisfaction and euphoria permeate their souls for the next 365 days. For the vanquished–bitterness, rancor, and a sense of doom live with them until the possibility of redemption associated with the next game. Of all the great Deep South rivalries, the Iron Bowl may be the greatest of all.

 

 

The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry

 

 

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The schools stand about 170 miles apart.  Men have played at one school and coached at the other.  The first meeting between the two schools took place in 1892 and spawned a legend.  The schools have played every year since 1898 except for the war years of 1917, 1918, and 1943.  The series stands at 57-55-8.  The oldest rivalry in the Deep South belongs to the Auburn University Tigers and the University of Georgia Bulldogs.  Pat Dye played at Georgia and coached at Auburn.  He says this about the rivalry, “It’s a unique thing.  It’s like playing against your brother.  I don’t think anybody who plays in that game can ever forget it.  It just doesn’t matter much where it’s played or what somebody’s record is.  It’s so intense and tough, but at the same time, it’s family.”  Will Muschamp also played at and graduated from Georgia.  He became a graduate assistant at Auburn and earned his master’s degree in education from there.  He had two stints as Auburn’s defensive coordinator before becoming the head coach at the University of South Carolina last year.  Muschamp has great respect for both Georgia and Auburn, “Both programs, in my opinion, have cut their teeth on the same values.  The leadership in this program (Auburn) and at Georgia has been very similar.”

Dye used the term family to describe the series.  Certainly, several famous people can claim ties to both schools.  Georgia’s College Football Hall of Fame coach Vince Dooley played and graduated from Auburn before his illustrious career on the sidelines at Georgia.  Hall of Fame Auburn coach and graduate Ralph “Shug” Jordan was an assistant coach at Georgia and head coach of the men’s basketball team before returning to Auburn.  Current Auburn defensive line coach Rodney Garner coached at Georgia for 15 years while former Georgia defensive line coach Tracy Rocker was a two-time All-American at Auburn.  So maybe the rivalry can be compared to two very competitive brothers trying to one up the other.

Make no mistake though this rivalry is intense and as closely contested as the series record indicates.  Currently, Georgia leads the series and the margin of victory is as close as the series record.

The Bulldogs have scored an average of 16.6 points to Auburn’s 15.4.  The battles have been fought in Atlanta, Macon, Savannah, Columbus (from 1920 to 1928 and again from 1930 to 1958), and Montgomery.  The series began its campus to campus rotation between Athens and Auburn starting in 1959.  Auburn has a winning record in Athens, 18-13, while Georgia is 16-11-2 in Auburn.  Georgia has won 11 out of the last 15 games.  As one might imagine the rivalry has witnessed its share of magical moments.

The first game in the rivalry took place at Atlanta’s Piedmont Park where Auburn won 10-0.  It was that game that spawned the legend of the War Eagle.  As the legend goes, a former Confederate soldier and Auburn faculty member at the time, attended the game with his pet eagle that he found on a Civil War battlefield.  As the Auburn team was driving for the clinching score, the eagle escaped the hold of its owner and began to fly around the field.  The excited Auburn fans began yelling “War Eagle” as the team secured the victory.  As the game ended the exhausted eagle crashed to his death.  If nothing else, it makes for a great story!

Georgia won the national championship in 1942 behind its two legendary Hall of Fame running backs, Frank Sinkwich and Charlie Trippi.  The Bulldogs incurred one blemish on its record, a 27-13 loss to Auburn.  The Tigers came to Columbus with a 4-4-1 record and as heavy underdogs to the powerful Georgia team, but Auburn coach Jack Meagher developed an offensive and defensive plan that befuddled the Bulldogs.  For the first time all season, Auburn ran from the T-formation and amassed large chunks of yardage.  On defense, Auburn dropped its tackles while its ends rushed, thereby keeping Sinkwich and Trippi bottled up most of the day.

Georgia gained a measure of revenge in the 1959 game in Athens.  Bulldog quarterback Fran Tarkenton scored the winning touchdown after an Auburn fumble recovered by Pat Dye.  The 14-13 Georgia victory denied Auburn the Southeastern Conference (SEC) championship. Instead, the Bulldogs claimed the title at season’s end.

Georgia entered the 1986 game in Auburn as 10 and 1/2 point underdogs and was forced to use its backup quarterback, Wayne Johnson.  Two more victories and Auburn would win the SEC championship.  Behind Johnson, Georgia forged a 20-16 upset and again denied the Tigers a chance at a conference title.  If the game itself wasn’t memorable enough, certainly the aftermath on the field will never be forgotten.  Georgia fans stormed the field after the contest and some began to rip apart the turf.  After refusing to leave the field at the request of Auburn officials, fans were drenched with water from the field sprinkler system and fire hoses.

The first SEC game to go into overtime occurred in 1996 in Auburn.  Down 28-7 at the half, Georgia quarterback Mike Bobo rallied the Bulldogs to a 28-28 tie at the end of regulation.  Georgia won the game in four overtimes, 56-49.  Georgia fans refer to the game as the “Miracle on the Plains” and also remember the game for UGA V’s lunge at Auburn wide receiver Robert Baker as he was going out of bounds after a reception.

Finally, Jordan-Hare Stadium became the venue for another miracle in 2013.  After 50 minutes in the game, the Tigers had amassed 29 first downs and led 31-17, but Georgia rallied behind quarterback Aaron Murray to take a 38-37 lead with 1:49 left.  With 36 seconds remaining, Auburn faced fourth and 18 from its 26-yard line.  Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall threw the ball as far as he could downfield.  Georgia safety Josh Harvey-Clemons was in perfect position to intercept the pass but it bounced off his hands into the hands of Auburn receiver Ricardo Louis, who took the ball all the way to the end zone for a 43-38 lead.   With the seconds ticking away Murray led Georgia on a furious drive down the field, but to no avail, as the clock struck 00:00 for the Auburn win known to Auburn fans as the “Prayer at Jordan-Hare.”

Brotherly love takes on a whole different meaning when Auburn and Georgia wage war in Athens or Auburn every year in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. Legends and miracles have been part of a series that offers further evidence as to why college football is unparalleled in the world of sports.

Alabama-LSU Football History

 

 

 

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Courtesy Gamezero05

When one thinks of University of Alabama Crimson Tide  and Louisiana State University Tigers football, his thoughts must certainly conjure up images of big, fast teams with strong defenses, power running games, and lots of future professional players (LSU has had 101 players drafted by National Football League teams since 2000 and Alabama has had 96). These two programs have arguably been the most powerful in the nation since the turn of the century. Alabama has won three Southeastern Conference (SEC) titles and three national championships since 2009 while LSU has four SEC titles and two national championships since 2001. Generally, the winner of the Alabama-LSU game positions itself for the SEC championship and the national crown on an annual basis, so the importance of the game has been well documented among the regional and national media. However, that has not always been the case. Alabama dominated the rivalry through the Paul “Bear’ Bryant era.  Although the Tigers won the first game in 1895, 12-6, Alabama leads the overall series, 51-25-5.

The games have been played over the years in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa. The schools began playing on an annual basis in 1964, alternating between Legion Field in Birmingham and Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. Alabama shifted its home games to Tuscaloosa in 1988.

The visiting team has won an inordinate amount of the games in the series. The Tide is 26-9-2 in Louisiana, while keeping the Tigers winless in Baton Rouge from 1971-1998. LSU has won 11 of 16 games in the state of Alabama since 1982. Four overtime games have been played with the road team winning each one. College Football Hall of Fame coach Bryant lost to the Tigers only three times from 1964-1982. After Bryant retired, the series became a true rivalry. Since then Alabama has won 20, including the 2011 national championship game, lost 14, and tied one. Future Hall of Fame coach Nick Saban has played a prodigious role in the recent series. Saban coached LSU from 2000-2004 and beat Alabama four out of five tries. Since taking over the Tide in 2007, he is 8-3 against the Tigers. As one would imagine, the rivalry has produced some memorable stories and games.

Bear Bryant seemed to own the Tigers and was not the least bit intimidated by Tiger Stadium.  He had a pre-game ritual that would enrage Tiger fans and calm his players. Bryant would slowly walk towards the northwest corner of the field where the LSU students sat. His players dressed in suits and ties would then walk around the field while Bryant ambled on over to the left hash mark around the 10-yard line. The Bear, completely composed, would have a nonchalant conversation with a security guard or a member of his staff while the LSU fans were screaming and yelling all sorts of things at him. After about 10 minutes, Bryant would wave to the LSU students, which prompted further abusive language and a chorus of loud boos. When leaving the field amidst the yelling and screaming, Bryant would walk right by Mike’s cage, the live tiger mascot. The purpose of this ritual was to show the team that playing at Tiger Stadium in front of 80,000 plus screaming, rabid fans was really not an issue. Bryant’s record against LSU in Baton Rouge proves the point.

When former LSU coach Les Miles and Alabama coach Nick Saban battled, their teams played to their respective strengths–aggressive, physical, smash mouth football. So it was unusual that a trick play helped to decide one of these games. Such was the case in 2010 when Number 6 Alabama met Number 10 LSU in Baton Rouge. With Alabama leading 14-13 with 9:26 left in the game, LSU had fourth and one at the Tide 26. Instead of trying a 43-yard field goal to take the lead,  Miles reached into his bag of tricks. He called for an inside reverse to a tight end who had never had a rushing attempt in his college career. DeAngelo Peterson took the hand off and ran all the way to the Alabama 3-yard line. The Tigers took the lead for good moments later and eventually upset the Tide 24-21.

The regular season game in 2011 in Tuscaloosa is a classic example of the smash mouth football so typical when the two teams get together. LSU came in undefeated and ranked Number 1 while Alabama was undefeated and ranked Number 2. This marked the first time in SEC history that two undefeated teams were meeting in the regular season ranked one and two in the country.  Before 101,821 rabid fans, LSU won the game 9-6 in overtime. LSU kicker Drew Alleman made all three of his attempts, including a 30-yarder with 1:53 to go in regulation. His 25 yard field goal won the game in overtime. Alabama’s kickers made only two of six of their attempts, but the real story were the defenses. Alabama gained only 295 yards while LSU gained a paltry 239. Alabama would exact a large measure of revenge and claim the national title with a 21-0 victory over the Tigers in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on January, 9, 2012.

Alabama garnered the rematch with LSU but not without controversy. Many writers and fans believed Oklahoma State, the number two team in the computer rankings, deserved a shot at undefeated LSU since the Tide and Tigers had already met. However, the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) decision makers believed a one-loss Alabama team a better foe than anyone else in the nation. The game marked the first and only time in the BCS era that two teams from the same conference met for the national title.

The defenses once again dominated the game. Alabama kicker Jeremy Shelley made three of four field goals to give the Tide a 9-0 lead at the half. LSU could muster only one first down and never crossed the 50-yard line in the first half. The second half was much the same. LSU compiled four first downs and crossed the 50 only once. Shelley kicked two more field goals and running back Trent Richardson added a 34-yard touchdown run with only 1:39 left to account for the final score. While LSU won the SEC championship, Alabama won the national title.

The Alabama-LSU rivalry ranks as one of the Deep South’s best. Conference and national title aspirations normally accompany the battle. Two southern behemoths line up facing the other with muscles flexed, helmets strapped on tight, and a collective iron-sharpened will and determination to vanquish its foe. This is Alabama-LSU football. This is college football at its best!

The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party

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The moniker for the University of Florida Gators-University of Georgia Bulldogs football series came from Florida Times-Union sportswriter Bill Kastelz in the 1950s.  He remembers walking in Jacksonville near the Gator Bowl, now EverBank Field, before one of the games and seeing an inebriated fan offering a policeman a drink. Kastelz also noticed fans using binocular cases to carry a flask and that many fans were openly drinking adult beverages while being ignored by police and other authorities.  In front of his typewriter after the game, Kastelz thought the appropriate name for the annual affair was, “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.”  While the party roars outside the stadium and in the stands, the teams wage a war on the field reminiscent of the days of the Roman Empire—fierce, tactical, and merciless.

One of the great Deep South rivalries finds Georgia leading 49-43-2, but Florida currently holds the victor’s trophy, the Okefenokee Oar.  The longest winning streak in the series for both schools is seven:  Florida from 1990-1996 and Georgia from 1941-1948.

Georgia dominated the series before the 1950s.  Led by Bulldog greats such as Bob McWhorter, David Paddock, Tom Nash, and Chick Shiver, UGA outscored the Gators in six games from 1915 to 1927, 190 to 9.

The Gators recorded their first two victories over Georgia in 1928, 26-6, and 1929, 18-6, but the 1930s witnessed total Bulldog domination.  Led by Coach Harry Mehre and College Football Hall of Fame players Vernon “Catfish” Smith, Frank Sinkwich, and Bill Hartman, the Bulldogs won eight of nine contests.  Also during this decade, Jacksonville became the permanent home of the series (1933).   College Football Hall of Fame coach Wally Butts continued the Bulldog supremacy through the 1940s with victories in seven of the nine games.

Under Mehre and Butts in the 1930s and 1940s, UGA enjoyed some of its greatest success on the gridiron.  Georgia dominated Florida and the rest of their opponents, compiling a .640 winning percentage.  UGA also won three conference titles, one national championship, and had twelve All-Americans on these teams.  Florida, on the other hand, was in disarray during this same time period.  None of UF’s five coaches stayed more than five years.  The school won no titles and had no All-Americans.  However, Florida changed its gridiron fortunes beginning in the 1950s.

Florida governor and grad Fuller Warren spearheaded a campaign to improve the plight of the UF football program in 1950.  The school hired away Bob Woodruff from Baylor to become head coach for $17,000 a year, the highest salary of any state employee at that time.  Woodruff convinced the administration to increase Florida Field capacity to 40,000, increase the salaries of assistant coaches, and allow the athletic department to be fully autonomous.

As Woodruff recruited better football players—Charlie LaPradd, Joe D’Agostino, John Barrow, Vel Heckman, for example–the Gators began to turn the tide in the Georgia rivalry.  Florida won the series against the Bulldogs in the 1950s with a 6-4 mark.  The rivalry was now on.

Neither school enjoyed much success on the gridiron from 1960-1965, but the 1966 game marked the first time both schools had title aspirations.  Under Hall of Fame coach Ray Graves and a young quarterback by the name of Steve Spurrier, the Gators came into the Georgia game undefeated and ranked number seven in the country.  The Bulldogs, under third-year Hall of Fame coach Vince Dooley, had lost only to the University of Miami by a single point.  Georgia boasted a ferocious defense led by Jake Scott, Bill Stanfill and George Patton.  UGA harassed Spurrier and the favored Gators the entire first half but trailed 10-3 at halftime.  The second half belonged to the Bulldogs.  Georgia’s defenders began to sack Spurrier and the offense mounted a lethal ground game.  Georgia waltzed off the Gator Bowl field with a 27-10 victory.  As Spurrier walked off the field, a Bulldog fan barked to the future Heisman trophy winner, “There he goes, Mr. Quarterback. Some quarterback.”

With both programs sporting perennial winners, the series saw the Gators take the 1960s with a 7-3 record while Georgia won the 1970s with the same record.  Georgia continued to beat the Gators in the 1980s under Vince Dooley and such superstars as Herschel Walker, Terry Hoage, Jimmy Payne, Kevin Butler, and Tim Worley, as the Bulldogs won eight out of the ten meetings.  Arguably, the most exciting game in the decade and the entire series took place in 1980.

With about one minute and twenty seconds left in the game, Florida led Georgia 21-20 and had the Bulldogs backed up to their own 7-yard line.  Georgia quarterback Buck Belue rolled out, dodged a couple of defenders, and hit receiver Lindsay Scott with a pass.  Scott reversed his field and eluded the Gator defense for a 93-yard touchdown that gave Georgia the lead and eventual victory, 26-21.  Legendary Bulldog broadcaster Larry Munson became famous for his “Run, Lindsay, run…” call of the play.  The victory over the Gators maintained Georgia’s undefeated record on the way to the national championship.

The series began to turn the Gators’ way when future Hall of Fame coach Steve Spurrier took the helm in 1990.  The Gators dominated the decade with nine wins out of ten against the Bulldogs.   The Gators were led by such greats as Errict Rhett, Ike Hilliard, Danny Wuerffel, Jacquez Green and Jevon Kearse.  Before leaving to coach the Washington Redskins after the 2001 season, Spurrier compiled an 11-1 record against Georgia coaches Ray Goff, Jim Donnan, and Mark Richt.  Many of these games were Florida blow outs. However, the 1993 game proved to be one of the more dramatic ones in the Spurrier era.

Georgia entered the game against the nationally-ranked Gators with a mediocre team led by quarterback Eric Zeier and future All-Pro running back Terrell Davis.  UF freshman quarterback and future Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel struggled with the football in the rain.  Backup Terry Dean led Florida to 10 unanswered points for a 23-20 halftime lead.  The Gators maintained the lead throughout the second half and with the score 33-26 Zeier led UGA to the Gator 12-yard line with five seconds left.  The Bulldogs thought they had scored a touchdown on the next play but the referees ruled Florida defensive back Anthone Lott had called timeout.  During the next play Lott was called for pass interference, but on the last play of the game Zeier threw incomplete to cement the Gator victory.

As the century changed, the Bulldog fortunes in the series remained the same—defeats to Florida.  The Gators amassed a record of 9-1 against Georgia from 2001-2010.  Florida struggled under Coach Ron Zook to win games, but Richt could only beat him once in three tries.  UF terminated the embattled Zook after three seasons and hired another future Hall of Fame coach, Urban Meyer.  Meyer lost to Richt once in six contests.  One memorable Florida victory under Meyer took place in 2008.

Georgia entered that season as the number one ranked team in the country led by such superstars as quarterback Matthew Stafford, running back Knowshon Moreno, and receiver A.J. Green.  The teams entered the game with one loss apiece.  Stafford threw three interceptions after halftime and Florida scored five unanswered touchdowns in the second half to cruise to a 49-10 win.  Meyer called two timeouts with less than a minute remaining to allow his players more time to celebrate.  According to Martin Gitlin, author of The Greatest College Football Rivalries of All Time, Meyer called the timeouts in response to Richt ordering his players in the 2007 game to take an excessive celebration penalty after the Bulldogs’ first touchdown.  Meyer, according to Gitlin, had not forgotten that Bulldog celebration and wanted the team to avenge the loss in the way that they did.

Florida leads the series in the current decade four games to three, and this year’s battle will be the second meeting between Georgia coach Kirby Smart and Florida coach Jim McElwain.  The coaches and players change but the rivalry continues to rage on.

As the teams embark on another chapter of the game by the St. John’s River, let’s raise our cocktail glasses to salute one of the Deep South’s classic gridiron rivalries.  Here’s to the players, coaches, and fans who make college football the greatest game in the world—Salute!, Sante!, Prost!, Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

Third Saturday in October: Alabama-Tennessee Rivalry

 

 

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The Third Saturday in October can only mean one thing: the University of Alabama Crimson Tide (Tide) and the University of Tennessee Volunteers (Vols) are about to strap on the helmets extra tight in anticipation of another physical, blood-letting battle on the football field. One of the fiercest rivalries in the Deep South used to take place on the third Saturday in October but when the Southeastern Conference split the league into two divisions in 1992, the game began to gravitate among dates somewhere between the middle to late October. For decades Alabama and Tennessee fans have had a saying: Don’t get married on the third Saturday in October. Sports journalist Beano Cook added, “Don’t die on the third Saturday in October, since the preacher may not show up.”

Alabama officially leads the series 53-38-7. The National Collegiate Athletic Association NCAA) forced Alabama to forfeit the 1993 game, a 17-17 tie, and vacate the 2005 game, a 6-3 Alabama win, because of rules violations. The series has been marked by winning streaks on both sides, and generally, those were directly correlated to the side that had the College Football Hall of Fame coach at the time.  The first game in 1901 between the two schools ended in a 6-6 tie in Birmingham. From 1903 through 1913, Alabama forged an 8-1 record against Tennessee while holding the Vols scoreless. The series took a hiatus until 1928.

Alabama Hall of Fame coach Wallace Wade led the Tide to three national championships from 1925-1930 while Hall of Fame coach Robert Neyland, known as the General, began his tenure at Tennessee in 1926. The coaches became friends and agreed to re-start the series in 1928, a 15-13 University of Tennessee (UT) win. Neyland’s Vols won a tight 6-0 victory over Wade’s Tide in 1929 but Wade gained a measure of revenge with an 18-6 triumph on the way to the 1930 national championship. Wade left for Duke University after that memorable 1930 season and the series pendulum swung in Neyland’s and Tennessee’s favor. Neyland coached at Tennessee from 1926-1952, with the exceptions of 1935 and 1941-1945. His record against Alabama was 12-5-2.

Alabama won the 1935 game, 25-0. In that game, senior end Paul “Bear” Bryant played the entire contest with a broken leg. After the game, Bryant shrugged it off stating, “It was one little bone.”

Such toughness inspired the University of Kentucky to hire Bryant as its head coach in 1946. Kentucky played Neyland’s Volunteers seven times during Bryant’s period as coach, but the General outflanked the Bear winning five times, with no losses, and two ties. In his book Third Saturday in October, Al Browning stated that those losses to Neyland fueled Bryant’s intense desire to defeat Tennessee while serving as Alabama’s head coach.

Bryant took over the reins at Alabama in 1958 and coached there until his retirement after the 1982 season. The Hall of Fame coach swung the series pendulum back to Alabama. Bryant’s teams struggled against Tennessee from 1958-1960 as the Volunteers tallied a 2-0-1 record against the Bear. However, the Tide broke through in 1961 with a resounding 34-3 victory. After that game, Alabama trainer Jim Goostree, a UT graduate, started a tradition that continues today. Goostree dispensed cigars to the players and coaches to celebrate the victory. After every game since then, the winning team has broken out the cigars. The NCAA considers this practice a violation of its rules, so the winning team immediately reports itself afterwards.

Under Bryant, Alabama dominated the series with 16 wins, seven losses, and two ties and won 11 in a row from 1971 to 1981. The Bear used the games against Tennessee as a barometer for his teams. According to Browning, the Bear once declared, “You found out what kind of person you were when you played against Tennessee.”

From 1983 through 1991, Alabama won six of the nine games. Tennessee coach Johnny Majors beat the Bear in 1982 but proceeded to lose six out of the next eight, which directly led to his termination. The pendulum swung back to Tennessee when Hall of Famer Phillip Fulmer took over as coach in 1992.

Fulmer compiled an 11-5 record against the Tide, including the forfeited 1993 tie and the 2005 vacated Alabama win. During Fulmer’s tenure, the Vols won nine of 10 versus Alabama from 1995-2004. Arguably, his most memorable game facing the Tide came in 2003 when the Vols beat the Tide in five overtimes, 51-43. Fulmer had great respect for the rivalry, “It’s important for our players to realize that the guys on both sides that have worn the orange and white or the crimson and white forever look at this third Saturday of October as being special.”

When future Hall of Fame coach Nick Saban took over at Alabama in 2007, the pendulum swung hard back to the Tide. Saban has led the Tide to ten consecutive victories over the Volunteers by an average score of 35-12.

The games played on or close to the Third Saturday of October have seen Hall of Fame coaches strolling both sidelines, gutty performances on the field, and an intensity only a few rivalries in any sport can claim. This rivalry symbolizes everything that people love about college football. So whether you are a fan of Alabama or Tennessee or some other school, light up a victory cigar to celebrate all those people who have given their all or who will give their all on the Third Saturday of October!

 

 

The Bear

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Think about the greatest college football coaches of all time. Many names come to mind—Amos Alonzo Stagg, Pop Warner, John Heisman, Fielding Yost, Eddie Robinson, Robert Neyland, Knute Rockne, Wallace Wade, Bud Wilkinson, Tom Osborne, and Bobby Bowden. Arguably, the best of all coached at Maryland, Kentucky, Texas A & M, and Alabama. They called him the Bear and he roamed the sidelines from 1945-1982. Paul W. Bryant compiled a record of 323-85-17, won 14 Southeastern Conference Championships, one Southwest Conference Championship and six national titles.

At the age of 14, Bryant wrestled a muzzled bear at the Fordyce Theater in his hometown of Fordyce, Arkansas. He did so purportedly to impress a girl and to make some money. While he may or may not have impressed the girl or made any money, Bryant received a nickname that stuck with him the rest of his life.

Bryant played football at Alabama from 1932-1935. The 1934 team finished the regular season 10-0, beat Stanford in the Rose Bowl, and was voted national champion by several polls. His coaching career began as an assistant to Alabama coach Frank Thomas from 1936-1939. Before Alabama played California in the 1938 Rose Bowl, Bryant auditioned for some movie moguls in Hollywood. Bryant received a contract offer but turned it down when his wife, Mary Harmon, refused to move to Hollywood. This marked the only time Bryant considered a profession other than football.

Bryant left Tuscaloosa to coach one year under Vanderbilt coach Red Sanders in 1940. Vanderbilt upset Alabama 7-0 that year and Bryant received credit for the victory. Sanders, for reasons unknown, did not renew Bryant’s contract in 1941, but with the help of New York Yankees catcher Bill Dickey, a University of Arkansas athlete, Bryant became a leading candidate for the Arkansas head coaching position. However, after the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, Bryant enlisted in the United States Navy for the duration of World War II. While aboard the troop ship USS Uruguay in 1943, Bryant escaped death when his ship was rammed while sailing to North Africa. Over 200 soldiers and sailors died in the tragic episode.

Bryant had earned the title of Lieutenant Commander by the end of the war in 1945 and accepted the head coaching position at Maryland in the same year. He led the Terrapins to a 6-2-1 record with a team composed mainly from the Navy Pre-Flight group he coached in 1944. After a dispute with Maryland president Curly Byrd over the suspension of a player, Bryant took the helm of the Kentucky program. In the Bear’s first season, the Wildcats went from 2-8 to 7-3. His 1950 team went 11-1 (Tennessee, led by coach Robert Neyland, handed Kentucky its only loss. Bryant never beat Neyland in seven tries.); won the school’s only Southeastern Conference (SEC) championship; and defeated Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, ending the Sooners’ 31 game winning streak.

Bryant left Kentucky for Texas A & M in 1953 after he asked for a release from his contract following the Kentucky president’s failure to fire or force the retirement of basketball coach Adolph Rupp, whose program became involved in a scandal that jolted Kentucky athletics (The NCAA and SEC suspended the Kentucky basketball program for the 1952-1953 season after evidence surfaced that some alumni had offered monetary inducements to recruits to play for Kentucky). The Kentucky president implemented new rules for the school’s athletic teams, including restricting the football team to five non-Kentucky recruits per year. Bryant knew he could not consistently win under these restrictions because the state produced a limited number of quality football players every year. He blamed Rupp for the president’s actions and moved on to College Station.  The Bear coached the Aggies from 1954 to 1957. His 1956 team compiled a 9-0-1 record, beat arch rival Texas in Austin for the first time ever, and won the Southwest Conference Championship.

However, Bryant left College Station for Tuscaloosa in 1958 with seven years left on his contract. Alabama had won only four games in the previous three years. When asked why he would leave a good situation at A & M for a poor one at Alabama, the Bear responded, “Mama called.” In 25 years as head coach of the Crimson Tide, Alabama won 232 games against only 46 losses, 13 SEC championships, and six national championships.

The Bear’s coaching philosophy was rather simple: one must pay the price to win—whether it was he, the players, the coaches, the managers, or the university presidents. Bryant pushed those around him hard but no harder than he pushed himself. Bryant’s fellow coaches respected his coaching ability. Jake Gaither, head coach at Florida A & M said, “He could take his’n and beat your’n, and take your’n and beat his’n.”

As Bryant approached the end of his coaching career, people frequently asked him when he would retire. The Bear’s usual response was, “Retire? Hell, I’d probably croak in a week!” Bryant coached his last game on December 29, 1982, a 21-15 Liberty Bowl win over Illinois. Forty-two days later, the Bear passed away from a heart attack at the age of 69.

The Bear left his mark on college football by building winners at Maryland, Kentucky, Texas A & M, and Alabama. While many outstanding coaches have graced the sidelines over the years, only one could be called the Bear.

Florida State-Miami Football Rivalry

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One of the greatest football rivalries in the nation takes place every year in Florida.  Both schools carry storied traditions, big-time players and championship coaches.  One school boasts Chief Osceola and Renegade, the war chant, and the proud nickname of the Seminoles.  The other has Ibis, the U, and the nickname Hurricanes.  One school proudly claims consensus All-Americans such as Fred Biletnikoff, Ron Simmons, Deon Sanders, Derrick Brooks, and Charlie Ward.  The other counters with such greats as George Mira, Ted Hendricks, Russell Maryland, Gino Torretta, and Ed Reed.  Coaching icons such as Bobby Bowden, Jimbo Fisher, Howard Schnellenberger, and Mark Richt all have roamed the sidelines during the rivalry.  When the Florida State University Seminoles and the University of Miami Hurricanes get together, you can throw out the records. These two teams do not particularly like one another and have played some of the most intense games in the history of college football. On numerous occasions, the outcome of the game ended the national title hopes of the loser while giving the winner an inside track to the title.  Florida State has won three national championships and 18 conference titles, including 15 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) crowns. Miami owns five national championships and nine Big East Conference titles.  Both schools currently reside in the ACC.

Miami leads the series 31-30, but Florida State has won the last seven games.  The two schools first met in 1951 (Miami won 35-13), four years after Florida State fielded it first football team.  For years Florida State had an all-female student body and men did not matriculate at FSU until 1946.  Florida State credits the Hurricanes with giving the fledgling Seminole program its first chance to compete against a legitimate, well-established program.  The University of Florida would not play FSU until 1958.  The Seminoles and Hurricanes squared off most years from 1951 through 1969, when the universities agreed to play every year.  FSU and Miami have battled as members of the ACC every year since 2004. Miami has won seven games that were decided by one point while the Seminoles eeked out last year’s game 20-19.  As you might imagine, these teams have had some very memorable affairs.  Let’s take a look at some of them.

  1. 1987 Miami 26-25

Number 4 Florida State led Number 3 Miami 19-3 late in the third quarter when the Hurricanes began their comeback.  Miami quarterback Steve Walsh hit Melvin Bratton for one touchdown and Michael Irvin for two, including a 73-yarder that gave Miami a 26-19 lead with just over two minutes to play.  The Seminoles marched down the field to score a late touchdown but Bobby Bowden’s decision to go for two cost FSU the game.  Bowden’s decision to go for the win instead of a tie was a gutsy call–overtime in college football did not begin until 1996.

 

  1. 1989 Florida State 24-10

College football experts believed the Hurricanes were destined to win the national championship that year.  UM did but not before losing to a two-loss FSU team in Tallahassee for the first time in ten years.  The Gino Torretta-led Miami offense turned the ball over six times and committed 11 penalties.  To this day in the Seminole record book under “Most Penalty First Downs in a Game” Miami’s 13 total penalties leads the category.

  1. 1991 Miami 17-16

In the first of the Wide Right games, FSU led Miami 16-7 in the fourth quarter.  Miami battled back to take a 17-16 lead with 3:01 left in the game behind a Carlos Huerta field goal and a Larry Jones touchdown run.  FSU marched down to the UM 17-yard line and with 29 seconds left Seminole kicker Gerry Thomas came on to attempt the go-ahead 34-yard field goal.  He had already made kicks from 25, 31 and 20 yards.  The kick sailed wide right by the length of a football.  Interestingly, before the 1991 season, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) reduced the distance between the uprights by four feet, 10 inches.

  1. 1992 Miami 19-16

The second installment of Wide Right took place in this game.  FSU entered Number 3 in the nation while Miami stood at Number 2.  Behind future Heisman Trophy winners Charlie Ward of FSU and Torretta, the game stood at 16-10 with nine minutes left.  Torretta then led UM to the go ahead score, 17-16.  The Hurricane defense would add a safety to make the count 19-16.  After the FSU defense held, Ward led the Seminoles down the field in the closing seconds.  Bowden sent Dan Mowery into the game to attempt a final play field goal that would tie the game.  Just like the year before, the FSU kicker missed the field goal, from 39 yards this time, wide right.

  1. 1993 Florida State 28-10

Number 3 Miami entered this contest with a 31-game regular season win streak, and Number 1 FSU would win the national championship this season.  The game was never in doubt.  The Seminoles led 21-7 at the half and put the game away when FSU safety Devin Bush picked off a Frank Costa pass and returned it for a touchdown.

  1. 2000 Miami 27-24

This is the final Wide Right game.  Miami was coming off NCAA probation for rules violations but had its most potent team in years.  FSU owned a five-game winning streak against the Hurricanes but trailed 17-0 at halftime.  However, FSU quarterback Chris Weinke rallied the Seminoles to cut Miami’s lead to 20-17 with 3:15 to go in the game.  After a Miami fumble, Weinke led FSU down the field and hit Atrews Bell with a29-yard strike to give the Seminoles a brief 24-20 lead.  Not to be denied, Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey marched the Hurricanes back the other way and completed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Shockey with 46 seconds to go for the final margin.  FSU took the ensuing kickoff and Weinke led his team down to the Miami 32-yard line for a field goal that would tie the game and send it to overtime.  FSU kicker Matt Munyon kicked it well but the ball sailed wide right as the final horn sounded.

  1. 2005 Florida State 10-7

Experiencing a small measure of revenge, the Seminoles won this game on a Miami kicking miscue.  The Hurricanes worked their way down the field in the fourth quarter to set up a 28-yard field goal that would tie the game.  With just under three minutes to play the Hurricanes set up for the kick, but holder Brian Monroe mishandled the snap.  The kick was never made and the Seminoles held on for the victory.

 

Florida State and Miami are two of college football’s elite programs.  They own eight national championships and 27 conference titles between them.  When the two meet, fierce battles often ensue that are decided by the slimmest of margins.  Add in the traditions of Osceola, Renegade, the war chant, Ibis and the U, and you have all the ingredients that make this one of college football’s greatest rivalries.

 

God Bless Mother Gammon

Imagine having no college football games to attend in the fall. In the South, that would mean the Apocalypse had occurred. Southern college football almost came to end after the Georgia-Virginia game in Atlanta on October 3, 1897. If not for the love of a mother for her son, Southern people would have other activities planned for fall Saturdays.

Von Gammon played fullback and linebacker for Georgia and Coach Charles McCarthy during the 1897 season. The very athletic Gammon had also starred at quarterback the previous two seasons under legendary coach Pop Warner. During the middle of the second half of the Virginia game, the Cavaliers called a play that sent a mass of blockers and a ball carrier to the right side of the line. Gammon dove under the blockers to tackle the ball carrier. He could not get up after the play. Coach McCarthy and Captain Billy Kent carried Gammon to the bench, where he lost consciousness. He died in a hospital later that night.

Shock and disgust resonated throughout the South upon news of Gammon’s death.  For most Southern schools football had existed for less than five years, but injuries had occurred so frequently that even before Gammon’s death many influential Southern college administrators and politicians believed the violent sport should be abolished. With Gammon’s death, the sport’s fate seemed assured.

In a lopsided decision (the House result was 91 to 3 and the Senate vote 31 to 4), the Georgia Legislature voted to abolish college football soon after Gammon’s death. If Governor W. Y. Atkinson signed the bill, more Southern states would surely follow.

Rosalind Gammon, Von’s mother, loved football because Von had loved football. She wrote letters to the Georgia Legislature and to Atkinson pleading for the continuation of the game. Her letters did not persuade the Legislature to change its position but the letter to Atkinson struck a chord with the governor. This passage from Ms. Gammon’s letter to Atkinson persuaded the governor to veto the bill:

“You are confronted with the proposition whether the game is of such character as should
be prohibited by law in the interest of society. To this I answer, it unquestionably is not.
In the first place the conditions necessary to its highest development are total abstinence
from intoxicating and stimulating drink—alcoholic and otherwise—as well from
cigarettes and tobacco of any form; strict regard for proper and healthiest diet and for all
of the laws of health; persistent regularity in the hours of going to bed and absolute
purity of life.”

The governor’s veto saved football in Georgia and throughout the South. Indeed, mothers know best, and Southern football fans owe Mother Gammon many thanks for the existence of fall’s favorite pastime.

Short History of East Lake Golf Club

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Courtesy of CEM0030

The East Lake Golf Club has a long and rich history.  As with any venue over 100 years old, it has witnessed the good and the bad.  With 30 of the world’s best golfers currently playing at the club and golf fans everywhere focused on East Lake, a captive audience awaits its tale.

The Atlanta Athletic Club bought almost 200 acres of land in 1904 around East Lake, a body of water surrounded by a forest. The property was to the east and south of the town of Decatur, about five miles east of Atlanta. Tom Bendelow designed the East Lake course. The first nine holes were completed by 1906 and the last nine in 1907.  In 1908, Bendelow created the “No. 2” course at East Lake.

World-renowned golf course designer Donald Ross re-designed East Lake in 1913.  His design called for the front and back nine holes to end at the clubhouse. Unfortunately, this same clubhouse fell to a fire in 1925, and soon after, Atlanta architect Philip Shutze constructed the present day two-story Tudor style building. Shutze’s East Lake clubhouse is one of several of his projects listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places.  Other Atlanta works include the Swan House, The Temple, the Albert E. Thornton House, and the Citizen’s and Southern Bank Building.

While the course and clubhouse remain icons of golf, East Lake may be better known for its association with legendary golfer Bobby Jones.  Robert P. Jones, Bobby’s father, was a club member from its inception.   Bobby learned and developed his game on the East Lake course under the tutelage of the club pro, Stewart Maiden. At the age of 11, Jones carded an 80 at East Lake. With his game honed on the East Lake course, Jones would enjoy an illustrious career as an amateur, including winning the Grand Slam of golf in 1930 (United States Amateur, United States Open, British Amateur, and British Open). Jones served as president of East Lake from 1946-47 and some of his golf memorabilia can be found today in the clubhouse.

East Lake hosted the Ryder Cup in 1963, and Arnold Palmer played and captained the winning United States team. Unfortunately, this event became one of the last pleasant memories until the early 1990s. The surrounding neighborhood in the 1960s fell into disrepair prompting the Atlanta Athletic Club to sell the No. 2 course and move to its current site in Duluth, GA.  In 1968,  a group of 25 East Lake members purchased the original course and clubhouse and created the East Lake Country Club.

The 1970s witnessed the construction of a public housing project on the site of the No. 2 course.  Poverty, drugs, and violence surrounded the golf club through the 1980s.

However, in 1993, a local charitable foundation purchased East Lake with the intent of restoring it as a tribute to Bobby Jones and the club’s other great amateur golfers, such as Charlies Yates.  Around this time the East Lake Foundation emerged to aid in the revitalization of the surrounding neighborhoods. In 1994, golf architect Rees Jones restored Donald Ross’ original design to give East Lake its current appearance and soon after, the East Lake Country Club became the East Lake Golf Club.  Jones also re-designed the No.2 course, which opened as the Charlie Yates Golf Course in 1998.

Today, all of the profits from the East Lake Golf Club go to the East Lake Foundation. The Foundation aids in the support of the health, education, safety, and productivity of the East Lake neighborhood.

One of the biggest supporters of the East Lake Foundation is the Tour Championship by Coca-Cola, which is the finale of the Professional Golf Association’s playoffs and the pursuit of the FedEx Cup (winner receives $10 million). The Tour Championship first came to East Lake in 1998 and rotated with Champions Golf Club of Houston until 2004 when East Lake became the permanent home of the Tour Championship.

Besides the Tour Championship and the Ryder Cup, East Lake has hosted six Southern Amateur tournaments, three Southern Opens, one Western Junior tournament, one U.S. Amateur tournament, and one U.S. Women’s Amateur tournament.

East Lake Golf Club honors the golfing greats of the past, present, and future while giving back to the surrounding community. It is a place revered by people across the globe but certainly no more so than those living a short lob shot away.  Tradition and charity combine to form one of golf’s greatest venues!

The Origins of the Southeastern Conference

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Utter the words “Southeastern Conference” during football season and your listeners will envision national championships, top ten rankings, and lucrative television contracts. Today the term is synonymous with the madness that is college football in the South. But in truth, the phrase was not always so meaningful.  The Southeastern Conference (SEC) was not always known by this name.

As college football took hold at schools across the country, southern school officials began to realize that an affiliation with similar institutions would make sense from an economic and geographic perspective. Southern football’s first game took place in 1881 as Kentucky State (now known as the University of Kentucky) beat Kentucky University (now known as Transylvania University) 7.5 to 1.  By 1892, the birth of southern football began in earnest.  Teams from Alabama, A & M College of Alabama (Auburn), Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt were playing.  LSU began its proud football history in 1893, Arkansas and Texas A & M in 1894, Mississippi A & M (Mississippi State) in 1895, and Florida in 1906.

Dr. William Dudley, a chemistry professor at Vanderbilt, answered the call for an affiliation of southern schools.  Representatives from seven schools—Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Sewanee, and Vanderbilt—met Dudley on December 22, 1894 at the Kimball House in Atlanta to form the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA), the grandfather of the SEC.  The SIAA was formed, according to Dr. Dudley, to provide faculty regulation and control of all college athletics.  A year later, 12 more schools were added, including Clemson, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Texas, and Tulane.

The SIAA held together through the 1920 season.  At the annual conference on December 10, 1920, a disagreement among the schools took place.  The smaller SIAA schools, through their collective vote, passed a rule allowing freshmen players to compete immediately with the varsity and voted down a proposition to abolish a rule that allowed athletes to play summer baseball for money.  Additionally, the SIAA had reached 30 members making it very difficult for the schools to play one another and crown a true champion.  Led by University of Georgia English professor Dr. S.V. Sanford, 18 schools left to form the Southern Intercollegiate Conference (Southern Conference) on February 25, 1921 in Atlanta.  At that point, the SIAA became a conference for small colleges and eventually disbanded in 1942.

The Southern Conference grew to 23 schools by 1932.  Again, the league was too big.  Dr. Sanford convinced the 13 schools west and south of the Appalachian Mountains—Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, LSU,  Mississippi, Mississippi State, Sewanee, Tennessee, Tulane, Vanderbilt–to reorganize as the Southeastern Conference.  Play began in 1933.  By December 1953, eight other schools—Clemson, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State, South Carolina, Virginia, Wake Forest—had left the Southern Conference to form the Atlantic Coast Conference.  The Southern Conference survives to this day.

Sewanee resigned from the SEC in 1940, Georgia Tech in 1964, and Tulane in 1965.  Arkansas and South Carolina joined the SEC in 1990, and Missouri and Texas A & M joined in 2012.

From its SIAA infancy in 1894 to its full maturation in 2012, the SEC has been a force in college football.  The league boasts eight out of the last eleven national champions, landed the largest television contracts (CBS and ESPN) in the history of college football in 2008, and launched its own network in 2014.  The South has indeed risen again.