1966 - 78 Tigers
(Authentic Reproduction)





Jordan greeted the 1966 season with a reorganization of his coaching staff and a new helmet logo. He maintained the white shell, one-inch burnt orange center stripe, the 1/2-inch white gap that preceded the 1/2-inch navy blue flanking stripes but removed the numerals from the sides of the helmet and instead displayed a navy blue AU logo that was trimmed in orange. This would be a long-standing design that has since been associated with Auburn football. Shug was still tinkering with his approach to platoon football and the 4-6 record reflected that. With FB Tom Bryan injured early and a young defense they suffered four consecutive conference losses. Junior Gusty Yearwood was moved from offensive guard to defensive nose guard and captained the team as a junior and played at All SEC level. With none of the QB's able to really fire the team, they limped to the finish, taking a 31-0 licking from Alabama to complete their 4-6 mark for the season. 1967's 6-4 record revolved around a leader on each side of the ball: Gusty Yearwood, a two-year captain and All SEC performer at middle guard and his counterpart on the offense, 260-pound center Forrest Blue who became the first round pick of the 49'ers and an eleven-year pro. The offense got its boost from All American end Freddie Hyatt who played six of his seven pro years with the Cardinals, and benefited from the promotion of Loran Carter to full-time starting QB after the second-game loss to Tennessee as Carter led the SEC in passing. Emerging stars on the defense, one that gave up seventeen TD's in '67 but would improve in coming years, included LB Mike Kolen and safety Buddy McClinton. 1968 brought another 6-4 finish with excellent individual performances but was played under the cloud of Coach Jordan's cancer diagnosis, one that he beat by the following season. Rambunctious LB Mike Kolen was All Conference and McClinton, continuing to improve at safety, also made All SEC. DT Dave Campbell went them one better, completing his junior year with All American honors, based primarily on his great pass rush. QB Loran Carter again led the attack, passing behind the protection of center Tom Banks. Many of Carter's passes were taken by All Conference end Tim Christian but Jordan's illness served as a distraction to the team and perhaps the staff and while they posted a great win over ninth-ranked Miami,  they once again could not find a way to beat Bama. The season ended with a Sun Bowl victory over Arizona 34-10 as the Tiger defense picked off eight errant passes.
Two games marked the Pat Sullivan-Terry Beasley years at Auburn, the best pitch-and-catch team in the country and one that allowed Auburn to play above its actual talent level. As the Auburn freshmen team of 1968 found itself behind Alabama's frosh squad 27-0 with the clock ticking down, the coolest hand on the field was the 6', 190-pound quarterback on the wrong side of the score. He methodically led the Cub team to victory as if it was expected. In the '69 opener against Wake Forest, this Birmingham John Carroll H.S. QB, one of the most highly sought after recruits in the country, overthrew his first pass, an attempted bomb to fellow sophomore, receiver Terry Beasley, by more than twenty yards. The Auburn fans actually stood to cheer that errant pass because it marked a new approach and a new era in Auburn football. Sullivan and Beasley led the Tigers to a 47-0 victory over the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest and three years of exuberance and solid, winning records kept Auburn in the national forefront. The well-built though somewhat small 5'11", 185 pound Beasley was a quick, exacting receiver and the perfect complement to Sullivan who for three seasons, refused to take credit for Auburn's success. The 8-3 record was highlighted by a 49-26 defeat of Alabama, their first win over the Tide since 1963 and the most points laid upon Bama since 1907. It also included a nasty 36-7 loss to a loaded Houston team in the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl game to end the season but Sullivan and Beasley had laid the foundation and had the absolute devotion of their teammates. Sullivan as a soph, set new school records for passing and total yardage. Buddy McClinton would be named as All American at safety, while All Conference players LB Mike Kolen and center Tom Banks added to team glamour. Kolen would go on to be an integral part of the Miami Dolphin Super Bowl defenses.
1970 began with five straight wins and big offensive numbers despite stacked defenses. Those defenses weren't stacked properly against the type of talent Auburn's dynamic duo had as Beasley caught 1051 yards worth of Sullivan passes. Banks played great and went on to a ten-year career at center for the Cardinals. Sullivan-to-Beasley was the combination that led to the QB's standing as the NCAA offensive leader and MVP in the Southeastern Conference but  two wins that season meant more than any individual achievement. Behind The Crimson Tide 17-0, it was a repeat of the 27-0 deficit of their frosh year and calmly and confidently, Sullivan and Beasley moved their team downfield until the end result was a 33-28 Tiger win. In the Gator Bowl game against Archie Manning and Ole Miss, the two teams put up over 1000 yards in offense when it was still a generation prior to the "basketball-on-grass" offenses of the late 1980's and '90's with Pat Sullivan willing his teammates to a 35-28 win. The defense was good all year long, with DB Larry Willingham an All America pick and later playing two good years with the Cardinals, and McClinton, but it was the offense of Sullivan that drove the team. 
Every opponent took the field against Auburn in 1971 primed and ready to stop "Super Sully And Terry Terrific" as the popular Auburn-area bumper stickers noted, yet, Auburn ran the table to 9-0 and included a huge win against powerful Georgia on November 14, a game that perhaps vaulted Sullivan over Cornell's popular Ed Marinaro for the Heisman vote. That 35-20 victory in front of a hostile Georgia crowd was almost a one-man Pat Sullivan show with Beasley in support. Hindsight indicates that the team was perhaps distracted going into the Alabama showdown two weeks later and the Tide dumped the Tigers badly, 31-7. The Sugar Bowl loss against Oklahoma that followed left the Tigers with a still-terrific 9-2 record and the Heisman Trophy winner as their QB as Sullivan continued to praise teammates like his fellow All American Beasley and All SEC tackle Tommy Yearout. Sullivan and his twenty-four Auburn records traveled to Atlanta as the number two choice of the Falcons and played with them from 1972 through '75 but had what was considered to be a disappointing pro career, starting off with a three-completions-in-nineteen-attempts first year. Beasley, a first round pick of San Francisco, seemed to be ready to fulfill his collegiate promise of 17.8 yards per catch, but was injured early and played only the 1972, '74 and '75 seasons before retiring. Despite the lack of professional success, Pat Sullivan, who later returned to Auburn as an assistant coach and coordinator before moving on as the head coach of TCU, and Beasley, remain matchless in the memories they gave to the Tiger faithful.
The loss of the Pat Sullivan-to-Terry Beasley pass and catch duo going into '72 would not be overcome and the Tigers of Auburn were destined for a long and horrid season against a schedule rated as one of the toughest in the nation. This at least was the common prediction among those who were supposed to know something about big-time football. "The Amazin's" as the '72 Tiger collection were called, proved everyone wrong, storming to a 10-1 record in the most improbable way. Beginning with an April 22nd spring ball drill where the first team offense faced the first team defense, running the same three plays for over two non-stop hours of punishment, this team was forged in iron for the remainder of the year.They reeled off four wins behind QB Randy Walls and the rushing of HB Terry Henley and FB James Owens, not an easy task as the O-Linemen had to mentally and physically switch from three seasons of pass blocking techniques to the grind-it-out head-butting of a rushing offense. The fifth game was finally, the predicted loss to LSU by an ugly 35-7 but instead of folding, the close-knit team, especially the rock-solid defense, rose up and stomped threw the remainder of the schedule. Led by LB Ken Bernich and DT Benny Sivley, they were close to impenetrable. In the season finale against second-ranked and undefeated Alabama, the ninth-ranked Tigers made up their minds that they were going to win. They blocked an extra point early and then scored all of their points in the final 9:15 to overcome a 16-0 deficit. At the 5:30 mark, with Bama on the fifty-yard line, punter Greg Gantt was terrorized by LB Bill Newton who rushed in and blocked the kick. DB David Langer scooped the ball up on the twenty-five and streaked into the end zone. Amazingly, "The Amazin's" given the nickname long before this game, did it again as the same combination of players watched the Tide line up on the Alabama forty-three yard line with only 1:34 left. Newton again broke through, Langer again recovered and this time ran twenty yards for the winning score. Making reference to a critical comment made by Bama Coach Paul Bryant before the game, tackle Mac Lorendo said, "This cow college hit 'em upside the head with our cow bells!" With five Tigers named to the All SEC team, Shug was rewarded with a Gator Bowl bid that translated to a 24-3 whipping of Colorado and SEC Coach Of The Year award.
As big a surprise and delight as '72 was, 1973 brought an equivalent amount of frustration. Gator Bowl MVP Randy Walls, expected to quarterback the team to continued glory, went down with a knee injury in that game and was "off" the entire season. Frosh Phil Gargis, a "we're giving you the last scholarship we have" QB whose Colbert County H.S. championship team included receiver Ozzie Newsome who chose to attend Alabama, took over and the team limped home 6-5 with a 35-0 payback loss from Bama. With their fans willing to travel anywhere to watch the Tigers play, they went to the Sun Bowl and had their record evened-out by Missouri in a 34-17 loss. Despite the play of DB David Langer, hero of '72's Alabama game and LB Ken Bernich, the year was a downer. Not much was expected for 1974 and as the '72 team had done, they were a major surprise, ringing up seven straight wins until they were noticed and finally dropped a game to Florida. Gargis was a very effective QB, a good runner in the Veer Option, and the leader of a scrappy team with no individual stars although soph FB Secdrick McIntyre (839 yards rushing) and LB Bernich again stood out. Bernich later had a one season career with the Giants. They dropped a close 17-13 finale to number one ranked Alabama and finished on a high note, beating down Texas 27-3 in the Tiger-friendly Gator Bowl. Auburn's number eight national finish led Coach Jordan to believe that this might be a good time to consider retirement. The man who had made Auburn football a national power and given them a National Championship in 1957, stepped to the podium on April 9, 1975 to state that the upcoming season, his twenty-fifth, would be his last. It was also announced that offensive coordinator Doug Barfield would take over in '76. Recruiting at Auburn had been compromised for a few years with the expectation of Jordan's retirement and while some felt that assistant coach Paul Davis was the man in line for the job, the announcement of the retirement in and of itself seemed to drain the motivation from the team. The on-field record was 3-6-2 that was later amended to 4-6-1 as the 21-21 tie vs. Mississippi State was forfeited by the Bulldogs due to recruiting violations. Gargis ignored shoulder problems and  again led the offense, Bernich the defense with support from DB Mike Fuller but as Shug later said, the team had too many players who "just didn't care" and it was a disappointing send-off for a man described by everyone as "courtly" and "a gentleman." A twenty-five year era had ended for the man who would forever be associated with the glory days of Auburn football and later be elected to the College Football Hall Of Fame.
Doug Barfield, the former Southern Mississippi QB, Clemson assistant, and Auburn O-Coordinator was now the man in charge heading into 1976. Keeping the Veer Offense, he brought in well-known P.W. Underwood to install the 5-2 defense. The team had to adjust to a new head coach and a new staff. The Veer would make Auburn known as "Running Back U" under Barfield with  newcomer Joe Cribbs, and senior Secdrick McIntyre (Falcons) doing the heavy hauling behind tackle Dave Ostrowski. Much was also expected from RB William Andrews, but he played in only four games due to injury and with injuries to others and the absence of Coach Jordan, the result was a disastrous 3-8 record (again amended to 4-7 due to Mississippi State's later forfeiture) with the 38-28 victory over Tennessee in the newly expanded home stadium the only real highlight. Senior Reese McCall, a 6'7", 240-pound specimen and a super backfield improved the record to 6-5 in '77. FB  Andrews recovered from '76's shoulder injury to gain 635 yards and was augmented by HB's Joe Cribbs and James Brooks, making for a future-All NFL rushing attack. LB "Fast" Freddie Smith and frosh DT Frank Warren were the defensive standouts on this 5-6 team but they again took a bad loss from Bama.
Having twenty freshmen letter in his first two years, Barfield felt that he now had enough experience to improve Auburn's fortunes and 1978's 6-4-1 record was a slight improvement. The fans looked at the blazing and powerful backfield and wondered why the record wasn't better than it was. Cribbs ran over Georgia for 250 yards in a 22-22 tie as part of the Tigers' 502-yard total, yet could score but thirteen points in two consecutive games against Mississippi State and Florida. Cribbs was All Conference with 1205 yards rushing and 16 TD's and Andrews (Falcons back for six years) and Brooks gave great support, as did Frank Warren who showed pro potential as a soph.
There have been few Heisman Trophy winners who were as humble as Pat Sullivan. In every conversation and in every interview he was quick to share the credit for any of his awards, even the highest individual honor in college football. He came out of John Carroll High School in Birmingham and chose Auburn over Alabama and immediately became the leader of the freshmen squad who responded to his quiet yet steely manner. He stepped onto the field for his first varsity game as a starter and remained there for his entire career, winning twenty-five of the thirty regular season games on the schedule.
He set what was an NCAA record, accounting for seventy-three TD's, eighteen of those by rushing and the Tigers put up over thirty-four points per game during his tenure. More than his statistics, he was such a galvanizing force that his teammates had total faith in his ability to lead them to victory, and their 8-3, 9-2, and 9-2 records were more than team talent would have predicted. A second round draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons, his professional career was not as successful and he played sparingly through the 1975 season. He was later a back-up for the Redskins and Forty-Niners and after leaving the NFL and private business, first coached quarterbacks at Auburn, and then became the head football coach at TCU, earning the National Coach Of The Year Award in 1994, a nice adjunct to his election to the College Football Hall Of Fame in 1991. Sullivan is presently the Assistant Head Football Coach at UAB under Watson Brown.

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