Following a season in which the Tigers got better with every passing week, Auburn took it to No. 1 Florida State for much of the BCS title game in the Rose Bowl, but came up just short when Jameis Winston hit Kelvin Benjamin with the winning touchdown pass with just seconds left. It kept Auburn from winning its second title in four seasons, but served notice that Gus Malzahn’s program would be one to watch under his guidance.
Not many things can make Auburn fans talk about something other than football, but the hiring of Bruce Pearl to head up the basketball program did just that in March. Taking the Plains by storm with his energy and excitement, Pearl immediately put Auburn basketball back on the map and has the fan base pumped up about the future.
3. Boom Is Back
When you talk about energy very few coaches compare to Will Muschamp on the football field. After firing Ellis Johnson as his defensive coordinator the day after a loss in the Iron Bowl, Malzahn targeted the former Florida head coach as his guy and Muschamp joined the program in December. In his second stint as Auburn’s defensive coordinator, Muschamp has been among the best defensive coaches in college football and could be the final piece of the puzzle for the Auburn program to get to the next level consistently.
4. The Big Hurt Is A Hall Of Famer
Following a career as one of the most consistent hitters of the last century in Major League Baseball, Frank Thomas was enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. A former Auburn football and baseball player, Thomas became the first SEC player to become a Major League Baseball Hall of Famer after stringing together seven straight seasons of 20-plus homers, 100 RBI, 100 walks and a .300 average in his stellar career. No other player in the history of the game has accomplished that feat.
5. Saying Goodbye
Auburn had to say goodbye to a pair of tight ends, one with a great career and the other with his career still ahead of him. Fan favorite Philip Lutzenkirchen lost his life in an automobile accident in June while freshman Jakell Mitchell was killed in a shooting in December. One of the most popular Auburn players of the last decade, Lutz was liked by everyone and left a lasting impression in his 23 years. Just scratching the surface of his ability, Mitchell was well-liked by his teammates and was expected to play a major role for the football team starting with the 2015 season.
6. Turning It Around
Before Athletic Director Jay Jacobs hired Pearl, he first hired Hall of Famer Clint Myers to head up the Auburn softball program. One of the top coaches in the country regardless of sport, Myers led Arizona State to a pair of national titles and seven College World Series before taking over the Tigers in 2014. All he did in year one was take Auburn to the NCAA Tournament and win 42 games, the second-highest total in school history.
7. Ring It Up
Former Auburn pitcher and outfielder Tim Hudson has had a very good career in Major League Baseball during his 16 seasons with the Oakland A’s, Atlanta Braves, and most recently the San Francisco Giants. Joining a team that has been consistently among the best in the game, Hudson helped the Giants to a World Series win in 2014. For his career Hudson has won 214 games.
8. Don’t Call It A Comeback
One of the best stories of the season came away from the playing field when Auburn women’s golf coach Kim Evans came back from her battle with ovarian cancer to lead her team to a 15th-place finish at the NCAA Tallahassee Regional. It wasn’t the accomplishment on the course that was the big news, but the determination that Evans showed in getting back in one year from her surgery and treatment. It was an inspiration to everyone who heard her story, and especially the golf world as Evans was given the Gladys Palmer Meritorious Service Award by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association. It recognizes outstanding service beyond the call of duty.
9. Josh Donaldson
Battling his way onto the field for the Oakland A’s after spending much of his early career as a career minor league catcher turned infielder, former Tiger Josh Donaldson came into his own in 2013, but it was 2014 when he became one of the stars of the American League. Lighting up the sky for the A’s and one of the top WAR producers in baseball with 29 home runs and 98 RBI, Donaldson earned a starting nod in the MLB All-Star Game and played alongside Derek Jeter in his last appearance in the game.
10. Big Greg Goes Second Overall
After one of the most dominating offensive line seasons in Auburn history, big Greg Robinson dominated the NFL Combine and his private workouts and it paid off as the St. Louis Rams selected him second overall in the draft. Starting his career as a guard for the Rams, Robinson made the move to left tackle during the season and looks to be an All-Pro type of player at one of the most important positions in football.
Gus Malzahn, Barry Alvarez Press Conference
ITAT TV, O Coordinator Rhett Lashlee
Kerry Johnson Video Highlights
Wisconsin Coaches Want Redemption
Pat Dye's Dye-Gest Column
California Prospect Likes Tigers
The Secret Is Out
Scout Spotlight, Byron Cowart
Scout Spotlight, Auburn Signee Bailey Sharp
Auburn Commitment Elijah Sullivan