Some enterprising folks have decided to sell merchandise that supports the contention of my book that Auburn has won 9 National Championships. Have a look at what they offer at www.hemlockandmagnolia.com. I’m partial to the white polo shirt myself; wish it was available in a long sleeve model.
The video, mentions that the Billingsley Report has named Auburn a National Champion for 1913. Hopefully, that’s a start to Auburn claiming this National Championship along with 1957 and 2010 (and others),
Like the 1913 (8-0) and 1993 (11-0) teams, Auburn’s 1983 team is recognized by the NCAA as a national champion. Auburn’s 1983 team went 11-1 (6-0 in SEC) against a schedule that Richard Billingsley (of BCS computer formula fame) has ranked the 5th most difficult schedule in the entire history of college football. This was a team full of great players, but the following is my list of the top 10.
1. Vincent “Bo” Jackson There is no suspense or debate about this pick. Bo still holds most of the Auburn rushing records, was the Heisman Trophy winner in 1985, and ESPN readers recently voted him the Greatest Athlete of All Time over such luminaries as Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali, and Michael Jordan. What more needs to be said – we all know how good Bo Jackson was in 1983.
2. Donnie Humphrey Coach Pat Dye‘s teams in the mid- to late-1980′s were strong and deep on the defensive line, but that depth hadn’t been fully developed by 1983 and Donnie Humphrey was a standout whose quality of play at defensive tackle ranks with notables such as Ken Rice and Tracy Rocker. Not only did he play strong against the run, he had the ability from his defensive tackle position to rush the passer and anchored the defensive line, as he did in a short NFL career.
3. Greg Carr Carr was a tough-as-nails leader for this defense. A sure, hard tackler, who led the team in that statistic, Carr was also adept at a linebacker’s role in pass defense. It would be hard to find a more complete college linebacker of that era and Carr was named an All-American in 1984. He would continue his career in the NFL.
4. Lionel James Although diminutive even by the standards of the time, James was a strong and physical blocker as well as exciting open field runner. He acted as quite a counterpunch to defenses focusing to stop Bo Jackson and was just about as liable to break a long touchdown run. He would go on to a record-setting NFL career.
5. Al Del Greco Some might say Del Greco, the team’s placekicker, is ranked too high at number five. However, Del Greco was practically a sure bet at kicks of almost any distance and his three clutch field goals in the Sugar Bowl against Michigan and it’s powerful run defense, were the difference in 9 – 7 win and clinched the National Championship for Auburn, as awarded by BCS-formula guru Richard Billingsley and other championship selectors recognized by the NCAA. Del Greco went on to an NFL career that almost lasted two decades.
6. Doug Smith A big and powerful defensive lineman comparable to Donnie Humphrey, he was likely the strongest player on defense. Add in his great toughness and with that combination Smith would go on to All-American status in 1984 and have a long NFL career.
7. Randy Campbell You can’t measure leadership by height and weight or with a stopwatch. Campbell was the leader this team needed, protected the ball in a triple option offense placing an emphasis on the quarterback being nimble in his fakes, smart in his reads and decision-making, and accurate in his pitches to Jackson or James and in the short passing game. With his adept play of the position, Auburn led the nation in fewest turnovers, a key statistic as Auburn faced one of the most difficult schedules in the entire history of college football.
8. Ed West Athough he may be overlooked by some, West is deserving of this spot based on being a model tight end for Coach Dye’s brand of run-first offense. He was an overpowering blocker for the running game and practically an automatic first down on third down when the distance dictated an intermediate pass. He was a clutch performer who went on to a long NFL career.
9. David King He was the leader of the defensive secondary. Even though he was a bit under-sized, King was a three year starter at cornerback and demonstrated great athleticism. A sure and hard hitting tackler, after his first year as a starter opposing team’s recognized his ability and seldom attempted passes to the receivers he covered. If teams in this era had run more passing plays, King would have had the opportunity to move up this list. He would go on to a short NFL career.
10. Tommie Agee Just a freshman in 1983, Agee makes this list because of the big plays he made that year as a fullback in the triple option, where his running ability up the middle kept defenses from keying on the flanks where Jackson and James did their damage on option pitches from Campbell. In addition to great skill as a runner, Agee was a strong blocker and was also a threat in the passing game. Agee would go on to a lengthy NFL career.
If you want to suggest other players from the 1983 team as being missing from my list of Top 10 Players, leave a comment to let me know what you think. And if you want to relive some of the highlights of that 1983 season, a chapter of “Auburn’s Unclaimed National Championships” is devoted to that season.
If you no longer care for printed words on paper, there’s good news. “Auburn’s Unclaimed National Championships” is now available for immediate download as a Kindle e-book through Amazon.com, for Kindle readers or other tablet computers with a Kindle app. Just follow this link. Leave a review if you can. There is updated content on several topics, especially the Donahue years.
The Auburn sports blog, Warblogle.com has picked up the torch to help get Auburn University to formally recognize AU’s 1913 team as a National Champion. In its post this week, Warblogle argues that Auburn should both recognize the 1913 team as a national champion (as does the the NCAA) and honor that team by wearing throwback uniforms based off the 19193 uniform. The proposed uniforms are a sight to see.
1. Kirk Newell Team captain and left halfback, Newell accounted for 1707 all-purpose yards in just 8 games, including 121 yards in a 21-7 win over Georgia in Atlanta that clinched the SIAA championship and 8-0 season. Newell was the QB as a freshman on Auburn’s 6-1 national championship team in 1910. Coach Donahue later called Newell, who had All-American ability as a runner, “the best player I ever coached.” As a soldier in WWI, Newell selflessly threw himself on a hand grenade, suffering disabling injuries, but saving the lives of his comrades in arms.
3. “Bull” Kearley He played halfback some as well, but Kearley starred as a tough intimidating defensive end. Coach Donahue’s defensive strategy in the “7 Box” (7-2-2) was to have his ends crash down and disrupt the play from the start. Kearley’s speed and great toughness helped key a defense that gave up only two touchdowns in 8 games as Auburn outscored its opponents 224 -13.
4/5. Frank Lockwood/Jim Thigpen These two All-Southern lineman led the way for the rushing offense and composed a formidable tandem on the defensive line. Cuts, bruises, broken noses or even a knocked out tooth didn’t slow these guys down.
6. “Boozer” Pitts The son of a preacher, this teetotaler played well at center, a position even tougher in that era than today. His blocking was key for the fullback dive, Donahue’s staple play. Pitts would go on to be voted to the All-Southern team in 1914, and then a decade later as a math professor be named Auburn’s head coach when Donahue left the program after 18 years.
7/8. Bill Christopher/Frank Hart These two played backup fullback and halfback and were often put in the game as fresh runners near the end zone. They had a nose for scoring touchdowns, including Hart’s 85 yard scamper for a TD against Georgia Tech in a 20-0 victory at Grant Field in Atlanta. Christopher and Hart were also mainstays on the defense, where their hard-nosed play won acclaim.
9. Ted Arnold When Arnold showed he could handle QB duties, Coach Donahue was able to move Kirk Newell from QB to halfback, his more natural position. While teams did not pass much in this era, Arnold had an accurate arm and that allowed Coach Donahue to use a few pass plays to loosen the defense against the run. Arnold was also the placekicker for extra points and seldom missed.
10. F.H. Pendergrast He had the speed of a halfback (where he’d play in 1914), but also had the physical nature needed to play several positions on defense and starred in whatever position he was asked to play.
You can read about these great Auburn players, and other more modern ones, in the Auburn’s Unclaimed National Championship book.
The May 30th issue of the Auburn Villager newspaper included a great article on Auburn’s 1913 team and mentions that team can be claimed by Auburn to be a national champion. The article, found here, makes favorable mention of the Auburn’s Unclaimed National Championship book.
The “Auburn’s Unclaimed National Championships” book has created a discussion among Auburn people whether the Athletic Department should claim more than two college football national championships (1957, 2010), given that an additional seven could possibly be claimed and the NCAA recognizes Auburn as a national champion for an additional three seasons (1913, 1983, 1993). The Never to Yield Foundation offered their opinion in this article on its web site. Read the article here.
Last week, Michael Skotnicki was a guest on Kevin Scarbinsky and Scott Griffin’s show, Smashmouth Radio, on 97.3 FM in Birmingham to discuss his book, Auburn’s Unclaimed National Championships and the possibility of Auburn claiming additional national championships. Here’s the link to the podcast of the interview.
Last week, Michael Skotnicki was interviewed by the hosts of Sportz Blitz Live, a weekly sports show out of Sylacauga that airs on Charter cable statewide. Although he was not in studio, you can watch the telephone interview. You might be surprised, but the host who is an Alabama graduate was a supporter of Auburn claiming at least a few of these National Championships.