Each Friday during the 2017 football season, AuburnTigers.com will feature a column from Auburn historian and Athletic Director Emeritus David Housel to commemorate the 125 year history of Auburn football. We hope you enjoy!
By David Housel
Auburn Football did not begin with Shug Jordan and it did not end with Pat Dye.
Auburn Football is a continuing saga, to this day and beyond.
In all Auburn has had 27 coaches. They compiled a record of 757-434-47 through 125 years thus far. It could get better, much better before this year is out. Time will tell.
In our time together this season, we have talked about and written about eight of those coaches, George Petrie, John Heisman, Mike Donahue, the Notre Dame coaches, Chet Wynne, Jack Meagher, Earl Brown, and, of course, Shug Jordan and Pat Dye.
As we near the end of our study of Auburn football history, it would be altogether fitting and proper to look at some of the other coaches who have lent their touch to Auburn Football as we know it.
Here are a few who deserve special mention:
Mike Harvey: A member of Auburn's 1899 and 1900 teams Mike Harvey became head coach at Alabama in 1901, and invited his former teammates to come to Tuscaloosa for a game... Alabama did not cross midfield and Auburn won 17-0.
Alabama apparently had had enough of the "Auburn man" after one season and Harvey was back at on the Plains the next year as an assistant to Robert Kent. Auburn was not invited back to Tuscaloosa for 99 years.
Boozer Pitts: Boozer Pitts was an Auburn man if there ever was one, and a better Auburn Man could not and cannot be found. Pitts played center for Mike Donahue and was center on the All-Time Southern team. After graduation, he served as an assistant to Donahue while teaching math. It was in math where his genius lay.
When Donahue left Auburn after the 1922 season, Pitts reluctantly agreed to be head coach. Mathematics was still his first love.
After the 1924 season, he asked and received permission to go back to fulltime teaching. When head Coach David Morey resigned three games into the 1927 season, Pitts was called on to complete the season. Whenever Auburn called, Boozer Pitts would answer. He returned to the classroom after the 1927 season, and taught math at Auburn for rest of his life.
It is said that Boozer Pitts was so good in math that he could stand by the train station, watch the train go by, and then give the sum total of all the serial numbers of all the cars in that train.
Terry Bowden: No coach ever burst on the Auburn scene with more success than Terry Bowden. His first Auburn team went undefeated, "11 and Ohhhhh!" as it was called at the time. Bowden's teams won their first 20 games setting an Auburn record for consecutive victories. His 1997 team won the SEC West Championship but lost to Peyton Manning and Tennessee 30-29 in the SEC championship game. His winning percentage, .731 (47-17-1) ranks third among all Auburn coaches.
Tommy Tuberville: Tommy Tuberville did something no other Auburn coach had ever done: beat Alabama six years in a row. His teams won or tied for the SEC west championship five years, playing in the championship game twice.
His 2004 team is considered by many to be the best team in Auburn history. Auburn finished the season undefeated, 12-0, and missed playing in the BCS national championship game by .350 points (Oklahoma .9681-Auburn .9331) in the final BCS season ranking.
Gene Chizik: Gene Chizik was a surprise hire to be Auburn's head coach, but he gave Auburn something it had been hungering and thirsting for for 53 years—a national championship. His second Auburn team defeated Oregon 22-19 in the 2010 BCS championship game. The 14-0 season is the best in Auburn history.
Gus Malzahn: His story is still being written. His first Auburn team had the greatest turnaround in college football history and played in the National Championship game. The 2012 team won three games; Malzahn's first team won 12 games, a nine-game improvement in just one year.
When the Gus Malzahn legacy is written, two of the best chapters will be will be what has become known as "The Prayer in Jordan-Hare " and "Kick Six." Last week's 40-17 win over Georgia, the No. 1 team in the nation, will be a very good chapter as well.
In all, Auburn has had 27 head coaches. The longest tenure belongs to Shug Jordan, 25 years, the shortest to D.M. Balliet, who coached one game in the game in the "spring season" of 1893, but it was a big one, the 32-22 win over Alabama at Lakeview Park in Birmingham in the first game between the two schools.
Jordan won more games (176) than any coach in Auburn history, but he also lost more (83) than any other coach. Such is the blessing and the curse of 25-year tenure. Balliet is the only coach in Auburn history to have perfect record, 1-0, and winning percentage of 1.000, but that one win—32-22 over Alabama--was a big one.