When a man wants the world to know that he is partial to the football team of the Alabama Polytechnic Institute—Auburn to you and me—he rears back and yells "WaRRR EEEgle" at the top of his lungs. When in Atlanta for a football weekend he tends to do this on or in the vicinity of Peachtree Street, the main stem, where he is most likely to raise the hackles of the greatest number of Auburn-hating Atlantans. Neither Atlantan nor Auburnite knows exactly why the cry is War Eagle; an Auburn scholar who recently decided to investigate the old mystery says he was persuaded to stop the quest by influential Auburn people who did not want to know. They just naturally wanted to yell "War Eagle" when the spirit moved them, and hang the egghead explanations.
Raised hackles were a penny a gross and scalpers' tickets $75 a pair last weekend in the city of Margaret Mitchell and Bob Jones. A big, roughhouse Auburn team, led by the eel-slippery sophomore Quarterback Bobby Hunt (left), came to town and just did defeat the previously unbeaten Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech 7-6. Followers of Auburn naturally War Eagled it far into the night, for this was a very special Tech team—a team very much like baseball's White Sox—which was accustomed to working tiny miracles and frustrating opponents with a magnificent defense.
Tech, although possessed of perhaps the proudest football heritage in Dixie, was widely ignored by preseason diviners of eminent teams. Consequently there was no little surprise when the Yellow Jackets buzzed off to consecutive victories over Kentucky (14-12), Southern Methodist (16-12), Clemson (16-6) and Tennessee (14-7), which had thumped mighty Auburn 3-0 to end the latter's streak of 24 games without a defeat. Such success was all the more surprising in view of Tech's great dependence on sophomores and its rather staggering sick list.
A visitor to the realm of the Rambling Wreck last week soon discovered that Tech was doing it not with mirrors but with 1) the scorched-earth policy of Coach Robert Lee Dodd, a man who is fast on the conversational drawl but far from impetuous in battle and is a mint-new member of the Football Hall of Fame for his quarterbacking at Tennessee in the late '20s; 2) a depth of useful raw material not uncommon in the tough Southeastern Conference; and 3) a flaming team spirit which, if Navy had not already patented the term in 1954, would make this squad known as Tech's Team of Desire.
This season all Dodd's chillun are infused with a quality of dedication and oneness that is something fierce.
"This is a team," declared George C. Griffin, dean of the 5,509 men and 47 coeds of Georgia Tech, "which says, 'We don't care how big you are or how small you are; just come on out here and we'll give you more than you can say grace over.' "
The phenomenal thing about Tech as it moved bumptiously into the season was the timeliness with which some of the unlikeliest players became heroes.
The team often made mistakes, as young teams will, and just as often made amends with spine-tingling heroics. And always at the calm center of the storm blowing out of The Flats, where history-rich Grant Field stands, downslope from the mixed bag of Romanesque, collegiate Gothic and contemporary campus buildings on The Hill, was a whale of a football center with the improbable name of Maxie Calloway Baughan Jr.
A slim-hipped, broad-backed, red-faced, hard-nosed young man who hails from the steel town of Bessemer, Ala., Maxie Baughan is the physical and spiritual leader of the Yellow Jackets. He'll never be a matinee idol, for beneath his crew-cut thatch of reddish hair is the face of a journeyman prizefighter; but handsome is as handsome does. Baughan put his steel-sinewed 218 pounds behind 94 tackles last year, 50 more than his closest Tech competitor.
Baughan enrolled on The Hill partly because of Tech's splendid football tradition and partly because he and his mother and daddy greatly enjoyed the baked chicken served to them at a training table meal during an exploratory visit. (Dietitian Helen Twiggs is definitely not the least important persuader in Dodd's recruiting program.)