Looking Back and Looking Ahead At Auburn Football

Phillip Marshall takes a look back at the final season in a magical run for the Auburn football program.

Fifteen years ago, Pat Dye's eighth Auburn football team was preparing for a season that would be one of the more memorable in school history.

The Tigers would struggle some early, but would be strong down the stretch and claim a share of their third consecutive Southeastern Conference championship. Alabama would visit Jordan-Hare Stadium for the first time and go home a 30-20 loser.

None of that is news to anyone who follows Auburn football.

But a look through the media guide for that season drives home the reality of just how much the game has changed in 15 years.

How different is it? Nowhere is that shown more than on the line of scrimmage.

Auburn's preseason depth chart on the offensive line in 1989 included left tackle Bob Meeks at 269 pounds, right tackle Rob Selby at 269, right guard Mark Rose at 240, center John Hudson at 261 and left guard Ed King at 280. King was the biggest player on the team. He and Selby would go on to play in the NFL. Fullback Teapot Brown was listed at 5-7 and 193 pounds. Tailback Stacy Danley was listed at 211. James Joseph was a giant of a back at 222 pounds.

This season's offensive line depth chart in Auburn's media guide includes left tackle Marcus McNeill at 340, right tackle Troy Reddick at 327, right guard Danny Lindsey at 306, left guard Ben Grubbs at 280 and center Jeremy Ingle at 275.

Some other tidbits gleaned from the 1989 Auburn media guide:

Going into the 1989 season, Auburn led the nation over the previous six seasons with 41 players chosen in the NFL draft.

The 1989 seniors needed to win nine games to become the winningest class in Auburn history, an accomplishment they completed with the victory over Alabama.

Auburn was replacing eight defensive starters, returning only outside linebacker Craig Ogletree, inside linebacker Quentin Riggins and cornerback John Wiley, but Dye was optimistic. "Overall, in terms of ability, in the secondary and everywhere else, this could be the quickest football team we've had since we've been at Auburn," Dye said.

Auburn's season-opener was against Pacific, coached by current Pittsburgh coach Walt Harris. Its second game was against Southern Mississippi, coached by Curley Hallman and led on the field by a quarterback by the name of Brett Favre.

Dye was scheduled to match wits with coaches John Majors of Tennessee, Jerry Claiborne of Kentucky, Mike Archer of LSU, Bobby Bowden of Florida State, Rockey Felker of Mississippi State, Galen Hall of Florida, Ray Goff of Georgia and Bill Curry of Alabama. By the time Auburn played Florida, Hall had been replaced on an interim basis by Gary Darnell.

Auburn's assistant coaches included Larry Blakeney, Neil Callaway, Bud Casey, James Daniel, Paul Davis, Steve Dennis, Wayne Hall, Reggie Herring, Pat Sullivan and Joe Whitt.

Jim Martin was the university president, Wilford Bailey the faculty athletics representative and NCAA president and Hindman Wall the associate athletic director.

Jay Jacobs, currently the director of Tigers Unlimited, was conditioning coach.

Among Auburn's freshmen were tight end Fred Baxter, quarterback Stan White, wide receiver Pedro Cherry, offensive linemen Wayne Gandy and Anthony Redmond. And defensive linemen Walter Tate and Ricky Sutton.

Reggie Slack, the returning All-SEC quarterback, was backed up by Frank McIntosh, Matt Vogler, Scott Gurosky, Corey Lewis and David Crum.

Pat Dye (in background) watches an Auburn football practice.

The starter at left cornerback was Eric Ramsey.

Most of the players who won that championship in 1989 are in their mid 30s now. No one would have thought when that season ended with a 31-14 thumping of Ohio State in the Hall of Fame Bowl that 14 seasons would pass without another championship. No one would have imagined that Ramsey was plotting against Auburn coaches or that Dye would be gone after three more seasons.

Auburn seemed on top of its world in 1989, but a golden era was almost over.

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