Still Good Reasons to be at Auburn’s Next Home Game

Lyn Scarbrough

October 04, 2022 at 10:52 pm.

 It happened five decades ago.

Auburn trailed, 16-0, already playing in the fourth quarter. The offense hadn’t even gained 100 yards total offense. It had finally shown a little life, driving within field goal range, facing a fourth-down decision.

The math was simple. If the Tigers were going to win this game, they had to score three times and not allow another point. So on fourth down, even though they needed a touchdown, the coaching staff decided to try the field goal.

I had come down from the press box by then and was sitting with family under the upper deck in the east stands. When Gardner Jett and Dave Beck came out on the field, the chorus of “boos” from Auburn fans could probably be heard at Elmwood Cemetery.

“What a stupid decision!” “They need touchdowns, not field goals!” “That’s just the same as giving up!” And other things that I can’t include here!

But the kick was good; the score was 16-3; and what happened in the last few minutes of that game is legendary, one of the most incredible, unbelievable, crazy endings to any football game ever, made possible by that field goal.

After the kickoff, Auburn’s defense held, blocked the punt and ran it into the end zone, so the scoreboard now showed 16-10, but there wasn’t much time remaining. Something big had to happen for the Tigers to win … and it did.

The defense held again. So on fourth down when the same punter lined up to kick the ball, the same player blocked it, the same player caught it and ran it in for another touchdown, and when the same holder and placekicker converted the extra point, Auburn had the win, 17-16, over Alabama.

Over the years, the magnitude of that game has grown. Legion Field held 68,000-plus back then, but I’m sure I’ve talked to 75,000 or more over the years who relived with me their experience in the stadium that day.

“Punt, Bama, Punt” became the name by which the game is known.

And that team, finishing with a 10-1 record, defeating five teams ranked in the Top 20 and demolishing Colorado in the Gator Bowl, was ranked No. 5 nationally after the season.

That team, and that season, became simply known as “The Amazin’s.”

What’s amazing to me, and probably to many reading this, is that it’s been 50 years since the “Amazin’s” took the field. Fifty years since “Punt, Bama, Punt.”

On October 29 when Arkansas comes to Jordan-Hare Stadium to face Auburn, that team, “The Amazin’s,” will be honored. Before the game, the coaches and players that are still with us will be recognized on Pat Dye Field where they made history that’s still vivid in the minds of Auburn fans.

That alone is reason to be there.

Of course, there will be some, maybe many, who choose not to be in Lee County that day.

That happens when your team hasn’t had a banner season and when expectations are for things to get worse before they get better, if in fact they do get better before this season ends.

That happens when you’re playing poorly, leading early then losing a game that you probably should have won (LSU) and leading early and winning a game that you probably should have lost (Missouri).

It happens when your schedule is deemed the nation’s most difficult and includes playing on the home field of the two teams that played for last year’s national championship, beginning this weekend against Georgia in Athens.

And, it happens when rumors and criticisms and constant negative social media posts, most fueled by members of your own fan base, make it even more difficult for recruits to be impressed and coaches to do their jobs.

There’s no desire here to become involved in the Auburn football coaching discussion. There are already too many non-Auburn former SEC football players, as well as commentators and analysts, who have “inside information” and “impeccable sources” that are inserting themselves into the process.

This also isn’t to defend the Tigers’ coaching staff for the results since Bryan Harsin took over as head coach.

Some 2021 play-calling was indefensible in critical situations and likely was a major factor in losing several games. At least one game was lost in large part due to a late-game missed penalty call that would have changed the outcome. Another saw a large lead squandered in a game where the starting quarterback and veteran placekicker were lost due to season-ending injuries.

Then this season, Auburn has blown sizable early leads, committed costly penalties, had critical turnovers and lost several key players to injury. And, don’t even try to explain the pattern that Tiger coaches have established for calling all of their timeouts in the waning minutes of the first half so that opponents can have enough time to score.

There have been reasons/excuses that some will use to justify not showing up when Arkansas comes to town. Many of the criticisms are warranted. It’s likely that before Auburn plays another game on its home field, there will be two more losses, possibly by significant margins. If so, are there any other “sure” wins on the schedule?

But there are some things to consider before encouraging a hasty mid-season firing of coach Harsin:

  • Wisconsin fired head coach Paul Chryst, but he had coached 88 games in Madison. Nebraska parted ways with Scott Frost, but he had coached 47 games in Lincoln. Georgia Tech released Geoff Collins, but he had coached 38 games in Atlanta.


  • It took Dabo Swinney four seasons to win 10 games at Clemson. Mike Gundy didn’t have a 10-game winning season until his sixth year at Oklahoma State. It took Jim Harbaugh at MIchigan seven seasons to win a Big Ten championship. And Kirby Smart didn’t win the team’s first national title in 42 years until his sixth year as Georgia’s head coach.


  • Harsin has only coached 18 games at Auburn, winning nine of those. Is that long enough to accurately predict what is going to happen? Maybe so, but is that reason for a midseason firing? Who would be the logical replacement as interim head coach for the rest of the 2022 campaign? Would it make the Auburn job less attractive if the coaching position is changed again after just 18 games?


Here’s an unsolicited suggestion for Auburn people, the folks that are usually in their Jordan-Hare seats – Look for positive reasons to be there and dwell on those. Don’t look for negative reasons not to be there, and then make things worse by spouting them publicly.

The 1972 team – The Amazin’s – will be on the field again on October 29, a field where they won so many games and made so many memories. Enjoy that time with family and friends and relive those days of Terry Henley and Harry Unger, Benny Sivley and Danny Sanspree, James Owens “The Big O” and “The Ugly Duckling” Randy Walls.

Realistically, not many good things are likely for the rest of the 2022 season.

But, be there anyway.

Amazin’ things have happened before.



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