The Palmetto Auburn Club couldn’t care less about living close to Lake Hartwell

The late Southern columnist and humorist Lewis Grizzard once remarked that Clemson was just Auburn with a lake, and every time the two Tigers tee it up that joke makes the rounds. Of course, Grizzard was a well-known Georgia fan and it was his way of tweaking both rivals.

But the programs do have strong similarities and a long history with each other, which was revived in the 2007 Chick-fil-A Bowl and regular season match-ups in 2010 and 2011. Auburn leads the series, which dates back to 1899, 34-12-2.

Auburn and Clemson claim two of the best stadium entrances in college football. Nova, Auburn’s War Eagle VII, circles Jordan-Hare Stadium pre-game and Clemson players touch Howard’s Rock — a rock from Death Valley, Calif., to Death Valley, S.C. as it goes — and run down the hill, which was once described as the most exciting 25 seconds in college football.

Nova, War Eagle VII, Auburn

Howard’s Rock, Clemson

The two schools have shared commonalities between their head football coaches. John Heisman became Auburn’s fifth head coach in 1895, leading the Plainsmen for five seasons before leaving for Clemson in 1900. He led the Palmetto State Tigers for four seasons before directing Georgia Tech for 16 (1904-1919).

Former Clemson head coaches Charley Pell (1977-1978) and Danny Ford (1978-1989), who led Clemson to its only National Championship in 1981, both played and coached for Bear Bryant at Alabama, and former Auburn head coach Pat Dye (1981-1992) coached under Bryant as well. Unfortunately, another commonality between these three was NCAA sanctions.

Finally, brothers Terry Bowden (1993-1998) and Tommy Bowden (1999-2008) led Auburn and Clemson, respectively.

John Heisman, arguably the most recognizable name in college football history, led both Auburn and Clemson

But perhaps the most important connection shared between Auburn and Clemson is that of Walter Riggs. The Auburn graduate participated on Auburn’s first football team in 1892 and is known as the “father of Clemson football” after arriving in 1896 to coach Clemson’s first team. He served as Clemson’s president from 1910-1924 and Riggs Hall, home to Clemson’s College of Engineering and Science, is named in his honor.

Clemson’s Tiger nickname is speculated to have been named after Auburn’s nickname with Riggs’ — and later Heisman’s — arrival, but that isn’t completely clear.

The two Tigers tee it up for the 49th time Saturday night in the second game of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic.

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