Come Take a Trip Back in the Time Machine With Me: A Reminiscence on Georgia-Auburn 1992

Today we are just a little over a month away from the start of football season.  So for those of you who are getting a little anxious and wishing to see some gridiron action, here is a little fix for you courtesy of Youtube.  Hop into the time machine with me and prepare to blast back into the past.

The place:  Auburn, Alabama.  The year:  1992.

George Bush (Sr) was still in office.  Pink was still a color, not a pop singer or a Victoria’s Secret clothing line.  Nirvana was just starting to take off.  Britney Spears was still just a Mouseketeer, not yet known for her prowess at singing or at attacking cars.  And O. J. Simpson was still a well-respected member of society.  (Imagine that.)  And Georgia and Auburn were celebrating the 100th anniversary of their rivalry, one of the oldest in the entire country.

Georgia was celebrating the 100th anniversary of its football program’s existence.  And what a fortuitous time to be celebrating this: it was at this time that Georgia was at the pinnacle of such success as it would attain during the course of the Ray Goof era.  For Georgia was on its way to a 9-2 season which would finish with a trip to the Citrus Bowl.  Of course this team was expecting bigger and better things; with Eric Zeier, Garrison Hearst, and Andre Hastings at their prime, this team was hyped to contend for an SEC championship and possibly a national championship.  But heartbreaking losses to Tennessee and Florida had taken Georgia out of contention; both of these were games which better-coached teams would have won.

So here Georgia was at Auburn, reeling from a most disheartening loss to Florida just two weeks previous to this, and trying to salvage some semblance of a respectable finish with a win here.  A win would have put Georgia in first place in the SEC East by a half-game.  But that state of affairs would be temporary, because Florida was to play Vanderbilt the next week.  Win that one and Florida would move into a tie with Georgia, and Florida would win the SEC East by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker.  This was a foregone conclusion, and in fact this is exactly how things would play out.

Auburn, on the other hand, was dealing with its own issues.  The Eric Ramsey scandal had broken, and The Plains were crawling with NCAA investigators.  Auburn would wind up with some hefty sanctions; this would ultimately force the ouster of then-head coach Pat Dye.  This had not happened yet, but it was a foregone conclusion that he would be gone by the end of the season.  With all of this drama, it is not surprising that Auburn was in the midst of slogging to a second consecutive nonwinning season.

But Auburn acquitted themselves admirably in this game.  They held that fearsome Zeier/Hearst/Hastings juggernaut to just 14 points over the course of a 60-minute game.  And they had a chance to win it at the end.  Stan White and his peeps took the ball and moved it right down the field with ruthless efficiency, and set themselves up with 1st-and-goal with less than a foot to go and an eternity of 19 seconds in which to cover that distance.

Watch what happened next:

I was there at that game.  I saw the whole thing go down, up close and personal.  Well…not that up close and personal; I was with the band and we were sitting at the opposite end of the field from where all the action was, so the view was not that great.

I saw Stan White and his peeps go flying down the field like a bat out of hell.  I just knew that we were going to lose this game, and I could not bear to watch.  Of course I could not see very much even if I wanted to–just a mass of bodies moving at the far end of the field and clock running out.  And then…it did run out.  And we won.  With the game over, we played “Glory” one time through and then got the hell out.  (At that time, the infamous Hosing Incident of 1986 was still in the not-too-distant past; in order to prevent a recurrence of that, they had implemented strict limits on how long the visiting band could play after the game.)

So it was interesting to watch this video and see the reaction of the Auburn fans; they just stood completely still for several minutes after the game had ended, fully expecting the refs to come back out and straighten things out.

Those of you who are Auburn fans:  Remember that these things have a way of washing out in the end.  You won one in Athens under somewhat similar circumstances back in 2001, so don’t get upset with me for digging this one up.

P. S. Hope Gene Chizik works out OK for you this fall.