Auburn football has a rich history of outstanding individuals. But who are the best of the best at each position? Over the next two weeks, SEC Country wants the Auburn faithful to vote on a full squad of Tigers greats and settle on a fan all-time team.
Before the SEC Country All-Time Auburn Team is finalized next week, let’s wrap things up with one more figure — a head coach. With several longtime coaching legends in its history, answering the question of the best-ever might be tough for some Tigers fans.
Do fans go with the coach that had the stadium named after him? Or how about the one whose name graces the field? Could the vote go to the coach with the longest winning streak against Alabama, or the one who had a fantastic winning percentage in his first few seasons? Or does the best go back to the early days of Auburn football?
Here are the five candidates for Auburn football’s all-time best coach, in alphabetical order. Round out the team with the head man, and make sure to get your votes in for the player portion of the team in the links below.
Terry Bowden (1993-1998)
Although he left Auburn rather unceremoniously in the middle of the 1998 season, Terry Bowden had a mostly outstanding career with the Tigers. In his first season, Auburn had an 11-0 campaign. A year later, his Tigers went 9-1-1, giving him back-to-back Top 10 AP poll finishes.
Bowden had another 10-win campaign in 1997 and went 46-12-1 in his five full seasons. Even with a 1-5 start before his resignation in 1998, Bowden’s winning percentage is second all-time among Auburn coaches with multiple seasons to their name.
Mike Donahue (1904-1906, 1908-1922)
“Iron Mike” Donahue has the best winning percentage of any Auburn football coach that lasted more than a season. Donahue went 106-35-5 during the early days of Tigers football. He coached three undefeated teams and won at least a share of a conference championship six times.
Donahue was an excellent defensive coach, as his 1914 team didn’t allow a point in nine games. Six years later, his Tigers flipped the script by scoring 332 points — which was almost unheard of during that time of football. Today, the drive that is beside Jordan-Hare Stadium bears his name.
Pat Dye (1981-1992)
With four SEC titles to his name, Pat Dye is the most decorated head coach in Auburn football history when it comes to getting things done in the sport’s best conference. He ended Auburn’s long losing streak to Alabama early in his career, and he later three-peated as a conference champion.
Dye’s teams at Auburn reached tremendous heights and featured a dazzling run-first offense and punishing defense. His 99 wins rank third all-time in Auburn history, and the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium is named after him.
Ralph “Shug” Jordan (1951-1975)
The longest-tenured Auburn football coach by quite some distance, Ralph “Shug” Jordan turned the Tigers into a nationally-recognized program during his tenure. Jordan led Auburn to its first national championship in 1957, when the Tigers went undefeated.
While that would be Jordan’s only outright SEC championship during his long Auburn career, he made a tremendous mark on the program. Pat Sullivan won the Heisman Trophy under his watch in 1971, and Auburn finished in the Top 10 nationally in four of his final six seasons. In 1973 — while he was coaching, mind you — Auburn put his name on the stadium.
Tommy Tuberville (1999-2008)
While he never claimed a national championship and didn’t have as many wins as Donahue, Dye or Jordan, Tommy Tuberville did something no other coach in Auburn history did — beat Alabama six straight times. The Tigers dominated the Iron Bowl rivalry for most of Tuberville’s tenure, which included an undefeated 2004 season and an SEC championship.
Auburn claimed at least a share of the SEC West in five of Tuberville’s 10 years with the team. His squads were known for stifling defense and efficient, ball-control offense. When those two sides clicked at the same time, they created magic moments inside Jordan-Hare Stadium.
SEC Country’s pick: Ralph “Shug” Jordan
Dye had more conference titles, but Jordan was the father of what Auburn football is today. He took the Tigers to the next level during his tenure with several Top-10 finishes and the program’s first national title. In his long run at Auburn, he only had two losing seasons. Jordan was a model of consistency at Auburn, and he laid the foundation for what the Tigers are today.