For Past 40 Years Not Much Rivalry

On Valentine's Day, 1970, the Southeastern Conference witnessed one of the most classless acts in league basketball history. C.M. Newton was head coach of Alabama's men's basketball team in his second year. The Crimson Tide was definitely in rebuilding mode.



Newton's Alabama team had already lost to Auburn in Tuscaloosa in January when the Tide went to Auburn for the second game of the year. It was one of those many "match made in heaven" situations with Bill Lynn coaching the Tigers. Auburn had a much better team than Alabama and was pouring it on. The Tigers' star, John Mengelt, had been taken out of the game.

Then to the surprise of almost everyone, Lynn put Mengelt back into the game. Mengelt scored 60 points and Auburn romped, 121-78, over a Bama team that would finish 8-18, including 0-11 on the road.

Alabama was better in 1971, but lost star player Wendell Hudson to a broken wrist midway through the season, and lost two more times to Auburn.

Auburn had a 30-25 advantage in games against Alabama following the 1971 season.

To say that Newton turned things around is an understatement. He won both games against Auburn in 1972, 1973, and 1974. Bama had moved ahead in the series before Auburn won the second game of the 1975 season to pull even at 32-32. And then Newton's teams ran off 10 in a row.

The Crimson Tide had a 41-32 lead in the all-time series through the 1980 season.

Newton retired at the end of that season. Wimp Sanderson was no easier on the Tigers. Sanderson's Alabama teams sometimes played Auburn three times a year with the resurrection of the Southeastern Conference Tournament in 1981. He had 3-0 records against the Tigers in 1987, 1990 and 1991. From 1981 through 1992, Sanderson had a record of 22-8.

The Alabama lead in the series had ballooned to 63-40.

David Hobbs kept the pedal down. Hobbs' teams from 1993 through 1998 dominated Auburn with a 10-3 advantage.

The Alabama lead was up to 73-43.

Mark Gottfried was just so-so against Auburn in his 1999-2009 career. Including one loss when Philip Pearson had taken over after Gottfried had been fired, the record was 11-12. Bama had a record of 84 wins, 55 losses against Auburn.

Now Anthony Grant has gone 2-1 against Auburn in his brief career as Alabama's head coach. Alabama leads the all-time series by 86-56. Alabama has won 56 times since Auburn had that 30-25 advantage at the end of the 1971 season.

BamaMag Top Stories