On Saturday, when visiting Auburn beat Georgia Tech 20-10, the second-longest rivalry in southern football came to a close. The teams first met in 1892 and have played annually since 1906, with the exception of one year during World War II. In 1992 the series will resume on a two-year-on, two-year-off basis.
Tech claims that a scheduling conflict necessitated the change. "We had to standardize our conference schedule and start playing Maryland in the middle of the season," says the Yellow Jackets' sports information director, Mike Finn. Auburn suspects that its superiority over the last decade—the Tigers hold a 47-39-4 series lead—is the reason that Georgia Tech decided to pack it in. "We didn't drop Tech when we got beat 13 times in a row from 1941 to '54," says David Housel, Finn's counterpart at Auburn. "We're very disappointed. The Georgia-Auburn rivalry is the only longer one in the South [their first meeting was nine months before the inaugural Tech-Tiger game]. It won't be the same when we start playing again. What if you had Christmas every four years?"
The competition between the two engineering schools has been intense. Before the game at Auburn in 1896, partisan fervor got out of hand when the first annual Wreck Tech Pajama Parade didn't end at the football field as planned. "The students went down to the railroad station and smeared pig grease all over the rails," says Housel. As a result the train carrying the Georgia Tech players slid right through Auburn, and they had to walk five miles back to town. It's believed that Auburn coach John Heisman, after whom the trophy is named, was behind the prank. Heisman was 3-0 against Tech when he coached the Tigers. Then, after a stint at Clemson, he became coach at Georgia Tech and went 5-10 against Auburn.
The Wreck Tech Pajama Parade remains a hallowed pregame tradition at Auburn. Each year students clad in pajamas march to Jordan-Hare Stadium chanting, "Wreck Tech, wreck Tech, wreck the hell out of Georgia Tech!" For a while in the 1920s the parade even had a road-game version. Tiger fans would lug a huge ball to Atlanta, and on the morning of the game they would roll it down Peachtree Street, yelling, "We're going to roll right over Georgia Tech!" Even as Auburn rolled on last week, a tradition came to a stop.
Football has proved to be the undoing of more than one college president. In 1985 Clemson's Bill Atchley tried to restructure the athletic department and was pressured to resign. Fred Davison and L. Donald Shields, the presidents of Georgia and SMU, respectively, departed largely because of the pressures generated by football-related scandals.
Now Joab Thomas is feeling the heat at Alabama. Thomas handpicked first-year coach Bill Curry at least as much for Curry's emphasis on academics as for his record (31-43-4) at Georgia Tech. 'Bama is 5-2, but a lot of its fans are unimpressed, even after Saturday's 41-22 win over Tennessee. While one bad season won't get Thomas—or, one assumes, Curry—fired, his comments on the subject last week gave little cheer to those who put scholarship first and athletics second. "The board of trustees wouldn't consider the record of a football coach in evaluating me," said Thomas. "Of course, I might find so much unpleasantness in a situation that I might not want to put up with it."
KEEPING THE BEAT
Miami was idle on Saturday, which made other teams happy. The Hurricanes have ripped through four opponents by the combined score of 154-52, thereby posing the question: At what point does winning big constitute running it up? After the 'Canes beat Maryland 46-16 two weeks ago, Terp athletic director Lew Perkins said, "Talk about classless. We will never again play Miami as long as I am athletic director."