"Never give in — never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in... Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy." — Winston Churchill.
I thought of this quote after Auburn's determined, come-from-behind victory over Oregon. You gotta believe in Auburn and love it.
Now, are you ready for some football at Jordan-Hare?
The Tigers open their home schedule with the Green Wave of Tulane this Saturday night.
Speaking of Jordan-Hare, I'd like to share a little history of the stadium that may have slipped your mind — or may never ever have entered your memory banks at all.
The stadium is named for Auburn's winningest coach Ralph "Shug" Jordan (JUR-den for folks who are not from around here) and Cliff Hare who was a member of the university's first football team and later the dean of the School of Chemistry, and president of the Southern Conference.
In 2005, the playing field was named for Pat Dye, who coached the Tigers from 1981 to 1992 amassing a 99-39-4 record — a 71.1 percent winning record. Dye also served as athletic director virtually his entire time at Auburn.
Did you know there had been a football stadium at Auburn before Jordan-Hare? In fact there had been a couple. Drake Field used temporary bleachers to seat about 700 fans. Because of its small capacity, Auburn was forced to play most of its home games at neutral sites. So, in 1939 the school dedicated Auburn Stadium, although the school was officially Alabama Polytechnic Institute until 1960.
Did you know Jordan-Hare might have been known as George Petrie Stadium? Petrie was the school's first football coach. Despite some support, for the name change sought by students, it did not materialize.
In 1949, the school completed its first sizable addition to the stadium. It added seats to the west stands and replaced the old wooden bleachers on the east side. That brought the stadium's capacity to 21,500. The expansion also brought a new name — Cliff Hare.
Many Auburn fans may not know that the fierce in-state rivalry game pitting the Tigers and the Crimson Tide against one another took at 41-year hiatus. It's hard to imagine, but the two schools didn't play each other from 1907 to 1848. And when the game was restarted, it was played in Birmingham's Legion Field — the largest stadium in the state at the time with 44,000 seats. But many Auburn fans never considered it a neutral site.
While fan favorite Shug Jordan was at Auburn from 1951 to 1975, the Board of Trustees approved three expansions of the stadium, bringing its capacity to 61,261.
The university looked to the heavens for the next growth spurt, adding upper decks on both the west (1980) and east grandstands (1987) making Jordan-Hare — with 87,541 seats — the largest stadium in the state. That lasted until the University of Alabama expanded to its current capacity of 101,821.
The Iron Bowl was played for the first time in Jordan-Hare in 1989, with Auburn beating No. 2 and undefeated Alabama 30-20. I think it was one of the greatest wins in Auburn history.
Alabama started playing it's Iron Bowl home games in Bryant Denny stadium 11 years later in 2000.
So how does Auburn rank when it comes to other stadiums' capacity in 2019?
Let's take a look.
1. Michigan — 107,601
2. Penn State — 106,572
3. Texas A&M — 102,733
4. Tennessee — 102,455
5. LSU — 102,321
6. Ohio State — 102,082
7. Alabama — 101,821
8. Texas — 100,119
9. Georgia — 92,746
10. Nebraska — 89,859
11. Florida — 88,548
12. AUBURN — 87,451
(This list does not include the Cotton Bowl or the Rose Bowl.)
Did you notice that seven of the top 12 teams on the list were from the Southeastern Conference? That speaks highly of the commitment to college football at schools "down home."
By the way, the SEC school with the smallest stadium is Vanderbilt, with a capacity of only 40,550. And Auburn's opponent for this year's home opener, Tulane, plays in a stadium with a posted capacity of 30,000. Just FYI.
I'll see you Saturday at Jordan-Hare stadium, on Pat Dye Field for a 6:30 p.m. kick-off with about 87,000 of our closest friends— all cheering for the Tigers!